Rugby league will mix with rugby union when the Vodafone Warriors field a squad of players from their Sky Sport Future Warriors development programme in this weekend’s under-18 World Schools Sevens tournament at Bell Park in Pakuranga.
Coming into the event as late replacements they’ve had sparse preparation but have benefited from a crash course in the nuances of rugby union’s abbreviated game courtesy of All Blacks Sevens legend D J Forbes, who’s on the team’s coaching staff this weekend.
The opportunity to be involved in the tournament came about through the intervention of rugby league great Kevin Iro.
The former Vodafone Warriors centre heard a team had withdrawn from the tournament so he called his brother and Sky Sport Future Warriors coach Tony to suggest the club might like to fill the vacancy.
With so few chances available to play football at the moment, the Warriors leapt at the chance despite the challenges of swapping codes for the weekend.
Playing as the New Zealand Warriors, they won’t be bereft of rugby union nous.
As well as having Forbes’ expertise on the coaching staff they also have some players fresh from playing First XV rugby union for their schools. Among that group is King’s College flanker Sebastian Su’a, son of former New Zealand Test cricketer Murphy Su’a.
The New Zealand Warriors are in Pool A. They play three pool games on Saturday against the Asian Dragons (10.10am), New Zealand Condors (11.30am) and Samoan Barbarians (2.50pm) followed by Cook Islands on Sunday (11.10am). The teams in Pool B are the New Zealand Barbarians, Tongan Barbarians, New Zealand Niue, New Zealand Fijians and New Zealand Cavaliers.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1 Timothy Tiatia (James Cook High School First XIII) 17
2 Raphael Sio (Kelston Boys’ High School First XIII, Point Chevalier Pirates) 16
3 Jarome Falemoe (Southern Cross Campus First XIII) 17
4 Allan Talataina (Mangere College First XV rugby union, Point Chevalier Pirates) 16
5 Sio Kali (St Paul’s College First XIII) 16
6 Short listed: Boston Josephs (Orewa High School, Hibiscus Coast Raiders) 18, Hirini Holmes (Pukekohe High School, Manurewa Marlins) 16
7 William Piliu (St Paul’s College First XIII) 17
8 Sebastian Su’a (Kings College First XV rugby union) 18
9 Jacob-David Auloa (St Paul’s College First XIII) 16
10 Elijah Leaumoana (Southern Cross Campus First XIII) 17
11 Leka Halasima (Southern Cross Campus First XIII, Point Chevalier Pirates) 16
12 Presley Seumanu (St Peter’s College 1st XV rugby union) 17
13 Lyrakai-Layke Posimani (Takapuna Grammar School, Ellerslie Eagles) 16
14 Te Waaka Popata-Henare (Mount Albert Grammar School 1st XV rugby union) 16
Coaches | DJ Forbes, Grant Pocklington, Tony Iro
Manager | Athens Henare
Trainer | Sam Ragg
Physio | Quentin Hokianga