New competition for young players

New competition for young players

A new month-long competition organised by the Vodafone Warriors for elite under-16 and under-18 teams – including two Vodafone Warriors invitation sides – begins in Auckland this weekend.

Named the Ruben Wiki Challenge Shield in honour of the rugby league great, the competition brings together teams from Akarana, Counties-Manukau and Samoa as well as the Vodafone Warriors.

The four teams will compete in each of the under-16 and under-18 divisions.

“It’s a tremendous initiative and a real boost for the game in the wider Auckland area as well as for the Samoan community,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro.

“This is a great development opportunity for players already in our system as well as giving others a chance to bid for contracts with our academy and NYC squads. In fact, under-18 players will effectively be trialling for a spot in our NYC squad this season.

“Next year we’re aiming to broaden the concept by involving more teams.”

In this Saturday’s opening round Akarana plays Counties Manukau and Samoa faces the Vodafone Warriors in both grades. Games kick-off at 11.30am and 1.15pm at Cornwall Park.

Iro said Akarana and Counties Manukau, as the NZRL zones in Auckland, have first call on players including Vodafone Warriors-contracted players. The Vodafone Warriors will include players from zones outside Auckland in their teams.

The teams have been training since mid-January.

The full draw is (all games at Cornwall Park):

Saturday, February 27

Under-16 | 11.30am

Counties Manukau v Akarana

Vodafone Warriors Invitation v Samoa

Under-18 | 1.15pm

Counties Manukau v Akarana

Vodafone Warriors Invitation v Samoa

Saturday, March 5

Under-16 | 11.30am

Akarana v Vodafone Warriors Invitation

Samoa v Counties Manukau

Under-18 | 1.15pm

Akarana v Vodafone Warriors Invitation

Samoa v Counties Manukau

Sunday, March 13

Under-16 | 11.30am

Counties Manukau v Vodafone Warriors Invitation

Samoa v Akarana

Under-18 | 1.15pm

Counties Manukau v Vodafone Warriors Invitation

Samoa v Akarana

Saturday, March 19

Under-16 Final | 11.30am

Under-18 Final | 1.15pm

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