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Rapira Brothers To Line Up Together For Vodafone Warriors

Rapira Brothers To Line Up Together For Vodafone Warriors For First Time

Auckland, New Zealand, February 8, 2011 – Brothers Sam and Steve Rapira are set to play together for the Vodafone Warriors for the first time after being selected in the club’s 22-man squad for Saturday’s NRL trial against the Parramatta Eels at Rotorua’s International Stadium.

Sam (23) and Steve (22) have previously played together for the Junior Kiwis in 2005 and also teamed up on numerous occasions for the Waicoa Bay in the old Bartercard Cup.

But they’ve never played together for the Vodafone Warriors despite being together at the club before Steve had two years with the North Queensland Cowboys in 2009 and 2010.

The closest they came was in an NRL trial against Newcastle at North Harbour Stadium in 2008 when Steve was named on an enlarged interchange bench but never made it onto the field.

Head coach Ivan Cleary said he expected the brothers would have time on the field together at some stage in Saturday’s trial.

“It’s exciting for them. They’re really looking forward to it,” he said.

The younger Rapira, who was in the club’s first NYC side in 2008, played his first match for the NRL side in last Saturday’s 22-22 draw with the Knights in Greymouth but Sam was rested for that match.

Steve said having the chance to play alongside his older brother was a key factor in returning to the club.

Three sets of brothers have played together for the Vodafone Warriors in official first-grade matches in the past. Tea and Iva Ropati did so during Iva’s seven-game first-grade career in 1996-1997 as did Vinnie and Louis Anderson in 2004 (before Vinnie headed to England). Current NYC manager and 132-game Vodafone Warriors veteran Jerry Seuseu had his brother Anthony alongside him in his only NRL game against Brisbane in 2001.

Ironically the Rapira brothers never ended up playing against each other in the Vodafone Warriors’ two regular season matches when Steve was with the Cowboys in 2009 and 2010.

Sam Rapira, now entering his sixth NRL season, is one of several of the Vodafone Warriors’ established NRL players named to make their first trial appearances of the year on Saturday. Joining him are winger Manu Vatuvei, centre Jerome Ropati, standoff James Maloney, hooker Aaron Heremaia and front rowers Ben Matulino and Russell Packer.

“We’ve got four matches to look at different players and combinations and this week helps more in that regard,” said Cleary.

“While last week’s game was very much about the occasion, there were aspects of the performance which weren’t so pleasing, especially the way we finished the game.”

With the exception of Feleti Mateo and Joel Moon (on All Stars duty in Australia), the Vodafone Warriors will again take a full squad on the road as they did in Greymouth last week. They arrive in Rotorua on Friday, holding a public training session at the International Stadium at 5.00pm followed by a signing session. A group of players will also be involved in a kids’ carnival at Puketewhero Park from 10.00am-12.00pm on Saturday.

Apart from Mateo and Moon other frontline players not named to play against the Eels are captain Simon Mannering, fullback Lance Hohaia, halfback Brett Seymour and utility Shaun Berrigan.

NRL players backing up after last week’s outing are Kevin Locke, Krisnan Inu (lining up against his old club), Alehana Mara, Jacob Lillyman, Jeremy Latimore, Lewis Brown, Steve Rapira, Ukuma Ta’ai, Sione Lousi and Micheal Luck – again the captain – as well as younger players Glen Fisiiahi, Elijah Taylor, Pita Godinet, Matt Robinson and Vodafone Junior Warriors captain Ben Henry.

The trial will be Parramatta’s first of the season and also a debut outing as head coach for Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney. They’ll be without captain Nathan Hindmarsh, who’s with the NRL All Stars for their clash against the Indigenous All Stars in Robina on Saturday night.

After the Rotorua trial, the Vodafone Warriors take on Queensland Cup side Burleigh in Whangarei (February 19) and Manly at North Harbour Stadium in Albany (February 26) to complete their trials programme.

The NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors will be on the same bill as their NRL counterparts this Saturday, playing the curtain raiser against the Wellington Schoolboys. They began their campaign with a 32-20 win against the Wellington Orcas last Sunday, a match which attracted a crowd of 3000 at Porirua Park.

VODAFONE WARRIORS v PARRAMATTA EELS
International Stadium, Rotorua
5.00pm, Saturday, February 12
VODAFONE WARRIORS
LEWIS BROWN
GLEN FISIIAHI
PITA GODINET
BEN HENRY
AARON HEREMAIA
KRISNAN INU
JEREMY LATIMORE
JACOB LILLYMAN
KEVIN LOCKE
SIONE LOUSI
MICHEAL LUCK (c)
JAMES MALONEY
ALEHANA MARA
BEN MATULINO
RUSSELL PACKER
SAM RAPIRA
STEVE RAPIRA
MATT ROBINSON
JEROME ROPATI
UKUMA TA’AI
ELIJAH TAYLOR
MANU VATUVEI

COACH: IVAN CLEARY

VODAFONE WARRIORS – 2011 NRL AND NYC TRIALS
Saturday, February 5 – Wingham Park, Greymouth
Vodafone Warriors 22 (Glen Fisiiahi 2, Bill Tupou, Pita Godinet tries; Krisnan Inu 3 conversions).
Newcastle Knights 22 (Joel Edwards, Chris Houston, Chris Adams, Simon Williams tries; Peter Mata’utia 3 conversions).
Halftime: 4-0 Vodafone Warriors.
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Tony De Las Heras.
Crowd: 6500.

Sunday, February 6 – Porirua Park, Porirua
Vodafone Warriors 32 (Vili Lolohea. Siliva Havili, Junior Leilua, Chris Ofanoa, Kenny Niko, Honeti Tuha tries; Siliva Havili 3 conversions; Mark Tuati conversion).
Wellington Orcas 20s 20.

Saturday, February 12 - International Stadium, Rotorua
3.00pm: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Wellington Schoolboys
5.00pm: Vodafone Warriors v Parramatta Eels
Pre-purchase tickets by February 11, 2011 and save $5 per ticket or even more with family passes. Tickets available from Ticketmaster outlets – 0800 111 999 or www.ticketmaster.co.nz


Saturday, February 19 – Toll Stadium, Whangarei
3.00pm: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Otahuhu Leopards (Fox Memorial)
5.00pm: Vodafone Warriors v Burleigh Bears
Tickets available from Ticket Direct (www.ticketdirect.co.nz or 0800 4 TICKET) and Toll Stadium reception. Grandstand: $15, Adult: $10, Child or Terraces and Embankment: $10 Adult, $5 Child. There are also hospitality options available for corporate and public guests.


Saturday, February 26 – North Harbour Stadium, Albany
4.00pm: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Auckland Vulcans
6.00pm: Vodafone Warriors v Manly Sea Eagles
Tickets will be available from Ticketek soon through www.ticketek.co.nz or 0800 842 538. Keep checking www.stadium.co.nz for updates.

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