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Strong Kiwi flavour feature of Redcliffe trial

If the Vodafone Warriors have brought their own slice of New Zealand to Redcliffe then the Gold Coast Titans will be adding a heady Kiwi flavour of their own to the mix when the two clubs meet in their final 2022 NRL trial at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday, February 26 (2.00pm kick-off local time).

Indeed, it will be akin to a New Zealand reunion – not to mention an added attraction for ex-pat Kiwi rugby league fans – when the two clubs come together for the hit-out.

Such is the make-up of the Titans’ roster they can now count five former Vodafone Warriors, four Kiwi internationals and three other New Zealand-born players.

Leading the quintet of ex-Warriors is front rower Sam Lisone now about to enter his eighth NRL campaign, his career tally standing at 119 appearances after 85 for the Vodafone Warriors (2015-2019) with 34 in his first two years with the Titans.

Erin Clark has revived his career with Gold Coast, making his solitary appearance for the Vodafone Warriors early in 2017 but spending three years off the NRL scene before his next first-grade outing when the Titans gave him an opportunity in 2020. Now he has 30 games to his name.

Centre-winger Patrick Herbert joined the Titans last year after 21 appearances for the Vodafone Warriors in 2019 and 2020 and now boasts 40 first-grade games.

Second rower Joe Vuna, a four-game Vodafone Warriors in 2018, re-emerged on the NRL scene last year after putting his career on hold to dedicate the next two years to his mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Returning to rugby league with the Tweed Seagulls in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup, he earned his first NRL outing in almost three years when he came off the interchange bench in Gold Coast’s clash against Melbourne in June and also lined up again the following round in the Titans’ cruel 34-35 loss to the Roosters.

The fifth ex-Vodafone Warrior on Gold Coast’s books this year is utility Paul Turner, who has joined the club after spending most of last season injured following his third and final appearance for his first NRL club.

Outside those five players Gold Coast has four Kiwis in vastly experienced second rower Kevin Proctor (275 NRL appearances), centre Esan Marsters  (81 games), middle forward Herman Ese’ese (96 games) and new signing Isaac Liu (203 games).

Rounding out the players with New Zealand links are 77-game Gisborne-born front rower Moeaki Fotuaika, Mangere East junior and 2021 NRL rookie Greg Marzhew – who scored six tries in his first eight appearances – and 19-year-old Dunedin-born winger Sosefo Fifita, yet to make his NRL debut.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS

Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe

2.00pm, Saturday, February 26

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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