New Zealand Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney has named 11 players with NRL experience in the 23-man squad for the club’s first 2019 trial against the Melbourne Storm at Kardinia Park in Geelong on Friday night.
Among them are experienced centre Blake Ayshford, new signing Lachlan Burr, 2018 Kiwi rookie Isaiah Papali’i, props Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone, Ligi Sao and Chris Satae plus 2018 Dally M interchange player of the year Jazz Tevaga.
Named to make his comeback from a long injury lay-off is hooker Nate Roache, who missed the whole of the 2018 season after making 20 NRL appearances in 2016 and 2017.
Kearney confirmed today that the 22-year-old former Warriors Rookie of the Year was set to be used for 20 minutes in the trial.
Others with NRL experience are hooker Sam Cook and standoff Api Pewhairangi, the former Ireland international who played for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side in 2015. He switched to rugby union when he played for Irish club Connacht 2015-2016 before returning to league with the London Broncos in 2016-2018.
Also selected are new signing Adam Keighran along with Chanel Tavita-Harris and Hayze Perham who are all competing to join Blake Green in the NRL side’s halves.
The other nine players comprise players in the club’s ISP and Jersey Flegg squads as well as players who have been training with the Warriors throughout the offseason and preseason on trial contracts. Among them is 2018 Junior Kiwis hooker Sean Mulaney, who has been signed from North Queensland.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
7.50pm, Friday, February 22
Kardinia Park, Geelong
HEAD COACH | STEPHEN KEARNEY