Lauitiiti back in club’s colours

Lauitiiti back in club's colours

Ali Lauitiiti’s dream of once again playing for the Vodafone Warriors in the NRL takes real shape on Saturday when he plays in the club’s colours for the first time in 12 years.

Now 36, the legendary Lauitiiti has been named in the front row to face the Illawarra Cutters in what used to be known as the New South Wales Cup but is now the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.

It will be a far cry from his glory days with the Vodafone Warriors before joining Leeds and then Wakefield in the English Super League. Instead of playing in front of thousands of expectant fans, Lauitiiti will most likely be watched by a crowd numbering no more than a few hundred.

Having missed the club’s trials last month, Lauitiiti will be playing his first game as a Vodafone Warrior since the last of his 115 NRL outings for the club against Canterbury-Bankstown in Wellington on April 16, 2004.

Back then Stacey Jones was one of his team-mates; this time he’s his coach for this WIN Stadium contest in Wollongong (3.00pm kick-off local times; 5.00pm NZT).

With a staggering tally of more than 400 top level games to his name, Lauitiiti is one of eight players with NRL experience in the line-up to face Illawarra. Fellow front rower Upu Poching has had a brief taste of first-grade football while back rowers Raymond Faitala-Mariner and John Palavi have also had NRL exposure. The outside backs all boast NRL experience with David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo on the wings outside centres Matt Allwood and Konrad Hurrell.

Three NYC-eligible players are included with Ata Hingano at halfback, Erin Clark at hooker and Marata Niukore in the second row. Fullback Tomas Aoake, new signing Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at standoff and interchange forwards Jazz Tevaga and Paul Tuli have only just graduated from NYC football.   

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS v ILLAWARRA CUTTERS

WIN Stadium, Wollongong

3.00pm, Saturday, March 05

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS

1 TOMAS AOAKE

2 DAVID FUSITU’A

3 KONRAD HURRELL

4 MATT ALLWOOD

5 KEN MAUMALO

6 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

7 ATA HINGANO

8 ALI LAUITIITI

9 ERIN CLARK

10 UPU POCHING

11 MARATA NIUKORE

12 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

13 JOHN PALAVI

Interchange

14 JAZZ TEVAGA

15 PAUL TULI

16 PAT SIPLEY

17 JAMES BELL

18 VILIAMI KAVEINGA

COACH | STACEY JONES

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