Warriors' squad named for NRL Auckland Nines

By Te Kāea

It's exactly 14 days to New Zealand's most anticipated event which will showcase the world's greatest pool of rugby league talent. Today the build-up started for the NRL Nines, giving us a little taste of what's to come.

Women's rugby league has found a place in the NRL Auckland Nines.

Sarina Fiso says, “It was only a dream to have this opportunity. I never thought it would become real.”

“It's huge for us, it's an absolute game changer and quite historical in the fact that the biggest crowd ever will get to watch our girls,” says Rusty Matua.

The NRL Nines Board has acknowledged the effort that women have contributed to the game by including a three-test series between the Kiwi Ferns and the Australian Jillaroos.

Sarina Fiso says, “I guess our women, we've got a lot of flair, so that would give us the opportunity to use that, to show the world how well we are and how good we are at the game.”

Coach Rusty Matua says, “I want to beat Australia and my team wants to beat Australia as well. But I think from a holistic point of view, regardless of who wins it's going to be a major boost for women's rugby league.”

Len Brown announced the names of the pools, giving each a significant place name in Auckland. There are 16 teams playing for $2.6 million.

In the announcement today, head coach Andrew McFadden included some of the club’s biggest names in the preliminary squad of 22 players.

The team named includes:

Shaun Johnson (C)

Matthew Allwood

Nathan Friend

Ben Henry

Ryan Hoffman

Sebastine Ikahihifo

Solomone Kata

Ngani Laumape

Sam Lisone

Tuimoala Lolohea

Sione Lousi

Simon Mannering

Suaia Matagi

Ben Matulino

Ken Maumalo

Dominique Peyroux

Nathaniel Roache

Bodene Thompson

Sam Tomkins

Chad Townsend

Manu Vatuvei

Jonathan Wright 

This is the first time Manu Vatuvei will be competing in the tournament. However, it wasn't an easy decision for Andrew McFadden.

The Warriors made the semi-finals last year. With the well-known stars selected in the squad, coach McFadden says the Warriors are sure to win it.