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Another big moment for the One New Zealand Warriors’ premiership-winning Harold Matthews Cup players when they’re presented to the Go Media Stadium crowd at halftime in the club’s NRL clash against the Storm today.

The young Warriors defied all predictions on the other side of the Tasman by stitching together three straight upset wins to claim the prestigious under-17 title on April 27.

Now the players are being reunited seven weeks later to celebrate the success in front of the Go Media Stadium faithful.

If co-captain Kaawyn Patterson and his teammates have found the past eight months a blur, it’s easy to understand why.

It was just last November that the then 16-year-old Patterson, a Westlake Boys’ High School student, came together with a group of like-minded players and staff for what became a rugby league journey like no other.

They were tasked with being the first One New Zealand Warriors side to play in the Harold Matthews Cup, a renowned under-17 pathways competition run by the New South Wales Rugby League since 1970. It has been the breeding ground for countless NRL careers.

The Warriors were heading into the unknown facing clubs which had long-established systems for developing players of tomorrow – but they were anything but perturbed about being at a disadvantage. Indeed, the excitement was palpable as they contemplated a season of home and away matches.

They kicked off preseason training at One Tree Hill College ahead of a short-form competition starting in February which sees teams playing eight regular season games with the top six sides qualifying for the finals.

Patterson’s leadership qualities quickly emerged with coach Thaine (TJ) Ashford appointing him one of the team’s two co-captains.

“Kaawyn was one of the standouts in terms of leadership during the preseason,” said Ashford when appointing him.

“The boys listen whenever he speaks. He has a calming influence on them and his footy IQ is right up there.”

The campaign began uncertainly with losses to powerhouses Parramatta (6-34) and the Sydney Roosters (18-28) but the young Warriors regrouped to win five of their last six matches to squeeze into sixth spot.

From there they played giant killers as they faced sudden-death matches in Sydney three weeks running.

First they gained revenge on Parramatta with an exceptional display in a 30-20 win and then reached the grand final by holding on to account for unbeaten minor premiers the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 12-10.

That set up a date with another strongly favoured side in Western Suburbs, which had also come through the season without a loss.

The occasion may have weighed on the Warriors as they fell behind 0-10 in the opening minutes but they quickly regathered themselves to dominate the contest by scoring 30 unanswered points en route to an outstanding 34-16 victory. They’d achieved history by becoming the first club since 1970 to reach and win the grand final on debut.

Patterson had the joy of being presented with the cup, triggering scenes of unbridled joy, all of this just two days after he had turned 17 on April 25.

It wasn’t over for him. On May 13 the Warriors’ under-17 and under-19 teams gathered for their awards presentation with Patterson capping an unforgettable season by being naming the Harold Matthews Cup team’s One New Zealand player of the year.

But, wait, there was more for Patterson. He was named the player of the tournament at the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Rugby League’s Rangatahi Tama under 15 and under 17s tournament in Rotorua over the King’s Birthday weekend.

Now he and his fellow teammates can be feted by the fans.


Gordon Afoa 8 1 0 4
Torbein Beauvais 4 0 0 0
Kairus Booth 9 5 29 78
Horouta Davidson 1 0 0 0
Ezekiel Davidson-Faaiuaso 10 5 0 20
Houma Fotu 8 1 0 4
Hudsyn Frost 11 3 0 12
Tyson Hansen 6 1 0 4
Ashton Ieremia 1 0 0 0
George Kite 1 0 0 0
Boston Krone 10 2 0 8
Dezman Laban 9 3 0 12
Jeremiah Lemana 10 2 0 8
Dreytin Marriott 1 0 0 0
Steven Moala 1 1 0 4
Siale Pahulu 8 2 0 8
Turama Paranihi 4 0 0 0
Kaawyn Patterson 11 4 0 16
Alexander Pua 1 0 0 0
Ambrose Puluno 3 0 0 0
Joseph Ratcliffe 11 2 6 20
Isaiah Savea 8 2 0 8
Militoni Sikuvea 11 2 0 8
Zion Sitani 2 0 0 0
Micah Sula 2 0 0 0
Deshontayne Te Wao 7 0 0 0
Jack Thompson 6 3 0 12
Lennox Tuiloma 9 5 0 20
Timau Utiaro 4 0 0 0
Romana Whitiora 10 0 0 0
Acknowledgement of Country

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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