The Vodafone Warriors are not only playing in the Capital this season but they’ll also be kitted out in Wellington colours for their historic NRL encounter with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, May 11 (7.30pm kick-off).
The club has unveiled a one-off Canterbury of New Zealand jersey based on the strip Wellington rugby league teams wore in the 1970s.
Black and gold and sporting rugby league’s traditional league vee on the jersey, the kit has been modelled by Vodafone Warriors captain Simon Mannering, prop Ben Matulino and hooker Alehana Mara for the club’s marketing and advertising campaign for the match dubbed ‘The Capital Clash’.
Wellington’s Matulino (24), the club’s 2012 Lion Red Player of the Year, is fizzing about the prospect of wearing the special strip in the first home game outside Auckland in the Vodafone Warriors’ history.
"It’ll be awesome wearing the jersey at home. It looks cool," said Matulino.
"I’ve played at Westpac Stadium for the Kiwis before (against England in the 2010 Four Nations) but it’s always been my dream to play for the Vodafone Warriors in my hometown as well.
"I can’t wait for the chance to run out for my club in front of all my family and friends. It’s going to be a massive night for us and for rugby league in Wellington."
St Bernard’s College product Matulino, who started his career with the Te Aroha Eels in Lower Hutt, last year became the first NYC (National Youth Competition) graduate from all 16 clubs to appear in 100 NRL matches.
After starting 2008 with the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC’s first season, he became Vodafone Warrior No 142 when he made his NRL debut against Cronulla the same year.
Mara (23), a St Patrick’s College old boy, played for the St George Dragons in Wellington before being signed by the Vodafone Warriors to play in the NYC. He has played 16 NRL games since his debut in 2010.
Napier-born, Nelson-raised Mannering was living in Wellington and playing for the Orcas in the Bartercard Cup when he was picked up by the Vodafone Warriors. With 165 appearances since 2005, he’s the most experienced player in the club’s squad this season.
Packages for ‘The Capital Clash’ - including the chance to buy the Vodafone Warriors’ Wellington jersey - were made available on an exclusive pre-sale basis to the club’s Warriors members from Wednesday morning. Tickets go on sale to the public through www.ticketek.co.nz on March 14.
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