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Coach Kimmorley with a captive audience

For some, it will be the first time they’ve travelled outside of Australia. For others, it will be their first time in New Zealand. And for all, it will be the first time they have played a curtain-raiser at a sold-out Mount Smart Stadium.

Seventeen of Wests Tigers most promising pathways players are today boarding a flight to Auckland. The teens, most of whom are 17 years of age, are jetting off on a five day Cultural and Development Tour of New Zealand.

The group of aspiring NRL stars will play a curtain-raiser at Mount Smart Stadium prior to Wests Tigers Round 16 match against the Warriors on Sunday.

Developing the Wests Tigers way into our Cubs

The match against the Warriors Under 18’s will be a feature of the tour for the boys, but they’ll also be kept busy away from footy. They’ll take in the sights and sounds (and smells) of Rotorua, where they’ll visit the thermal mud pools and spas at Hells Gate. They’ll also attend a traditional Maori cultural performance and enjoy a Hangi for lunch.

Rubbing shoulders with their NRL peers is something the Cubs are also looking forward to.  On Saturday, they will have their captain’s run immediately after the NRL team has its final session and will then have dinner with the NRL players in the evening.

Warriors most recent Mount Smart 'sell-out' against Raiders in 2018
Warriors most recent Mount Smart 'sell-out' against Raiders in 2018

Head of Pathways Matthew Betsey says it’s a great opportunity to learn more about life and footy.

“This was never about just going over and playing a game.  We wanted to make sure it was much more than that and I know all the players – and their families as well for that matter – are just so excited.”

It’s about helping them develop not just as footballers, but people. It’s about learning about a different culture but also a behind the scenes look at being a professional athlete. It should be a terrific experience for them.”

Matthew Betsey
Wests Tigers Cubs: Specialist positions session at Concord
Wests Tigers Cubs: Specialist positions session at Concord

Like many others Lachlan Galvin has never been to New Zealand. The Camden junior and member of Western Suburbs premiership-winning Harold Matthews team says he’s been counting down the days.

“We’re all really looking forward to it.  Most of us have never done anything like this before so it’s super exciting. 

It’s a bit like how I felt before my first school camp when I was much younger, a little nervous but excited.”

Lachlan Galvin

Training with a few of the NRL players last week was also a big thrill.  We learned a lot in a short time, and I know we are going to learn a lot more over in New Zealand about footy and much more.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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