Wests Tigers will head to the far north of New Zealand this weekend to take on the Warriors in their only trial match of 2019.
After a long and intense pre-season under Head Coach Michael Maguire, Wests Tigers are no doubt ready to show what they can do in season 2019 and impress the fans and new coach alike with several positions still up for grabs.
Wests Tigers came within a whisker of breaking their finals drought in 2018 as they finished the regular season in ninth place, with the Warriors ending up one position better and breaking in to the top eight themselves for the first time since 2011.
Their improvements have led to a contract extension for Stephen Kearney, with the former Melbourne Assistant lining up against a former Storm coaching associate in Maguire, set for his first season with a club since leaving South Sydney.
The current Head Coach of the New Zealand national side, Maguire will certainly attract plenty of attention across the Tasman this week — along with the rest of Wests Tigers, who boast a number of Kiwi internationals including Benji Marshall, Elijah Taylor, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino and current Kiwis centre Esan Marsters.
All of those players will line up for Saturday’s trial in what is a near full strength side for Wests Tigers. Chris Lawrence (broken jaw) is the biggest casualty from pre-season so far, while Paul Momirovski remains the only other member of the NRL squad to not be named. Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah will start at both five-eighth and hooker, respectively, with Josh Reynolds and Jacob Liddle on the bench.
For the Warriors, it’s somewhat of a new-look side even if there’s not too many new faces compared to last year. The absence of Shaun Johnson will take some getting used to for rugby league fans, while Isaac Luke’s injury will see the Warriors field a much younger spine — the likes of Nathaniel Roache and Chanel Harris-Tavita are likely to have much more of an impact as the next generation come through.
It’s worth noting too, however, that just because some of the senior faces aren’t there, this Warriors side could still be just as potent in 2019 as they were previously and potentially even more than last year. Their memorable run to the Grand Final in 2011 was off the back of their success in the U/20’s competition in the years prior with a number of young guns leading the way, and New Zealand fans will certainly be hoping that this year’s crop can produce the same.
Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side, Western Suburbs Magpies, will kick off the action at Northland Events Centre with a trial match of their own beginning at 12:30pm AEDT, before the club’s NRL side take to the field at 3:00pm AEDT.
Both matches will be broadcast live via FOX League (Ch.502) and Kayo Sports, with a free live stream available on the club’s website from approximately 2:45pm AEDT.
Getting ready for Saturday's trial!
Date — Saturday, March 2, 2019
Time — 3:00pm AEDT (5:00pm local)
Venue — Northland Events Centre, Whangarei, New Zealand
TV — Live via FOX League (Australia only) and SKY Sports (New Zealand only)
Live Stream — Live and free on www.weststigers.com.au and Kayo Sports (sub.)
Referees — Adam Gee and Gavin Badger
Touch Judges — Chris McMillan and Viggo Rasmussen
1. Moses Mbye 2. Corey Thompson 3. Robert Jennings 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Robbie Farah 10. Ben Matulino 11. Luke Garner 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Elijah Taylor (Interchange: 14. Josh Reynolds 15. Matt Eisenhuth 16. Alex Twal 17. Michael Chee Kam 18. Mahe Fonua 19. Chris McQueen 20. Jacob Liddle 21. Thomas Mikaele)
New Zealand Warriors
(In alphabetical order): Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Blake Ayshford, Gerard Beale, Adam Blair, Lachlan Burr, David Fusitu’a, Blake Green, Tohu Harris, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Patrick Herbert, Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata, Adam Keighran, Karl Lawton, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi, Isaiah Papali’I, Hayze Perham, Adam Pomrey, Leivaha Pulu, Nathaniel Roache, Ligi Sao, Jazz Tevaga, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck