Commitment to local talent took centre stage when the One New Zealand Warriors recently staged a pathways trial.
The event, showcasing emerging talent from across the country, reaffirmed the club's dedication to nurturing the best rugby league prospects within their ranks.
"A few weeks ago our PAC (Pasifika Aotearoa Collective) brothers selected two merit sides from their tournaments and those players are now competing against our Warriors invitational side," explained Sky Sport Future Warriors coach Tony Iro.
The PAC partnership helps to extend the One New Zealand Warriors' reach beyond Auckland.
The trial match featured 14-15 year-olds from various regions.
"It's about getting the best talent possible in our ranks early," said Iro.
"I think these are the best 14-15 year-olds playing rugby league in the country right now.
"We have players here from Wellington, Christchurch and Whakatane playing against, who we think, are the best players at this age level in New Zealand."
The trial match served as a platform for these aspiring athletes to make their case for a spot in the club's pathways system.
But beyond the on-field action, the week-long event provided valuable learning experiences also, Iro explained.
The players spent time with the club’s Harold Matthews Cup (under-17) squad, gaining insights into the next level of competition.
They also received exposure to high-level coaching, a crucial aspect of their development as aspiring professionals.
As the club continues to gear up for an exciting season with the introduction of new teams in New South Wales Rugby League competitions, Iro emphasised the long-term vision of the pathways programme.
"It's obviously an exciting time for the club with all the new grades coming in next season," he said.
"But for us as a programme, we're already looking to 2025, 2026 and 2027 when this group takes the next step and takes over.”
Ultimately, trials of this nature serve as part of the club's commitment to fostering homegrown talent and building a sustainable future for New Zealand rugby league, said Iro.