Auckland, New Zealand, August 01, 2018 – A 22-strong squad laden with current and former Kiwi Ferns has been unveiled today to represent the Vodafone Warriors in the inaugural NRL women’s premiership next month.

With former Kiwi Fern Lorina Papali’i (41) signed, the Vodafone Warriors create rugby league history with a mother and son representing one club at the same time.

Lorina’s son Isaiah (19) has this year established himself as a first-choice second rower in his second season in the NRL.

Among the others confirmed at the club’s headquarters are Kiwi Ferns captain Laura Mariu and another legendary international Sarina Clark (nee Fiso).

Mariu, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday awards, had contemplated retirement after the 2017 World Cup but returned this season to help the Counties Manukau Stingrays to win the national final. She was also a key figure as the Manurewa Marlins beat the Richmond Roses in the Auckland women’s grand final last Sunday.

Clark missed the World Cup last year to have her third child. She returned to the field recently and signed with the Vodafone Warriors just this week.

“This is such an exciting day for our club and for rugby league in this country,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.

“We were thrilled to bring Luisa (Avaiki) on board as the first women’s coach in the NRL and today we take another step forward with the announcement of our squad comprising solely New Zealand players.

“We have a group of talented players who are just so excited about being involved in this shot at history.”

Avaiki is delighted with the 22 players the club has been able to sign.

“We have some legends of our game in the likes of Laura and Sarina who are backed up by some fantastic players,” she said.

“This is a dream for all of us to be involved in the NRL women’s premiership and we’re all working hard to make the most of what is an amazing opportunity for rugby league.”

Avaiki, appointed in last March, had an illustrious international playing career from 1995-2009. She captained the Kiwi Ferns to victory in two women’s World Cup tournaments in 2003 and 2008 and was also in the winning side in the first World Cup in 2000.

Features of the squad named:

  • A total of 18 players are current or former Kiwi Ferns.
  • The four players yet to represent the Kiwis have all been included in a wider 2018 national squad named by new Kiwi Ferns coach Kelvin Wright.
  • A total of 16 players are from the Manurewa Marlins and Richmond Roses squad which met in the Auckland women’s premiership final last Sunday.
  • Lorina Papali’i and Isaiah Papali’i become the first mother and son pair to represent a rugby league club at the same time.
  • Two players Laura Mariu and Apii Nicholls – the New Zealand Rugby League’s 2017 women’s player of the year – were recently sworn in as constables with the New Zealand Police.
  • Several of the players have been national representatives in other sports apart from rugby league:
    • Sarina Clark has played kabbadi and touch for New Zealand.
    • Georgia Hale and Krystal Rota have both played touch and tag for New Zealand.
    • Amber Kani has represented New Zealand Maori at the tag World Cup.
    • Apii Nicholls has played sevens rugby union and tag for Cook Island.
    • Lorina Papali’i, the NZRL’s player of the year in 2014, has played tag for New Zealand and represented Samoa Mausina at two women’s rugby union World Cup tournaments.

The Vodafone Warriors will play NRL women’s premiership matches against Brisbane, St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters during the NRL finals in September.

They’ll warm up for the competition with a match against Auckland when the Vodafone Warriors stage a double header in their Women in League game day at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday, August 10.

The women’s game is scheduled to kick off at 6.05pm followed by the 22nd-round NRL clash between the Vodafone Warriors and the Newcastle Knights (8.00pm).

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS | 2018 NRL WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP

 

RAQUEL ANDERSON-PITMAN

 

Born: November 2, 1991

Birthplace: Tokoroa, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Halfback/hooker

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2017-2018), World Cup (2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Boiler operator, Oji Fibre Solutions

Personal Note:

 

 

SARINA CLARK

 

Born: November 11, 1981

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Fullback

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2006-2016), World Cup (2008, 2013), NRL Nines (2015, 2016, 2017), New Zealand Maori (2015), New Zealand kabaddi (2013-2015), New Zealand touch (2009), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Case manager, WINZ

 

 

LISA EDWARDS

 

Born: October 19, 1992

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Mount Albert

Position: Wing

Rep Honours: Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Receptionist, Crittal Armold

 

 

LUISA GAGO

 

Pronunciation: Loo-ee-sah Nung-or (Nung as in rung)

Born: November 8, 1993

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Second row/loose forward

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2017-2018), NRL Nines (2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Customer service, Smith & Smith

 

 

GEORGIA HALE

 

Born: August 9, 1995

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Halfback/standoff/hooker

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2015-2018), World Cup (2017), NRL Nines (2015-2017), New Zealand touch, New Zealand tag, Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Community coordinator, Vodafone Warriors

 

 

 

AMBER KANI

 

Pronunciation: Car-nee

Born: January 17, 1991

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Centre

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2015-2018), World Cup (2017), NRL Nines (2016-2017), New Zealand Maori (2014-2016), Tag World Cup, New Zealand Maori (2012), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Ambassador, Manurewa Business Association

 

 

ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA

 

Pronunciation: On-jar-lee-nah Lay-a-toe-ah

Born: December 1, 1995

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Otahuhu Leopards

Position: Centre/second row

Rep Honours: Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Warehouse assistant, Tupperware

 

 

HILDA MARIU

 

Pronunciation: Mar-ree-oo

Born: August 9, 1983

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Second row/centre

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2014-2018), World Cup (2017), NRL Nines (2015), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Health promoter, Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi Trust

 

 

LAURA MARIU

 

Pronunciation: Mar-ree-oo

Born: December 2, 1980

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Loose forward/halfback

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2000-2018), World Cup (2000, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017), NRL Nines (2015, 2016, 2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Constable, New Zealand Police

 

 

VA’ANESSA MOLIA-FRASER

 

Pronunciation: Var-ah-nessa Morleeah

Born: January 18, 1996

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Fullback

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2016, 2017), NRL Nines (2017), Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Student, AUT

 

 

APII NICHOLLS

 

Pronunciation: Ah-pee

Born: February 26, 1993

Birthplace: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Club: Otahuhu Leopards

Position: Fullback

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2017-2018), World Cup (2017), Cook Islands sevens (rugby union), Cook Islands tag, Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Constable, New Zealand Police

 

 

TANIKA-JAZZ NOBLE-BELL

 

Born: February 20, 1996

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Second row/prop

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns wider squad (2018), Kiwi Ferns (2017), NRL Nines (2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays, Auckland Vulcans

Occupation: Student, University of Auckland

 

 

ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA

 

Pronunciation: Noo-ow-sar-lah

Born: January 22, 1995

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Prop

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2016-2018), World Cup (2017), Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Customer/after sales support, Husqvarna NZ

 

 

LORINA PAPALI’I

 

Pronunciation: Law-ree-nah Par-par-lee-ee

Born: January 16, 1977

Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Second row/prop

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (1994-2005), World Cup (2000, 2005), New Zealand tag (2007, 2010, 2011), Samoa Mausina rugby union (2002 World Cup, 2006 World Cup), Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Office supervisor, Worth & Douglas

 

 

KAHURANGI PETERS

 

Pronunciation: Car-who-rung-ee

Born: February 23, 1994

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Prop

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2013-2018), World Cup (2013, 2017), NRL Nines (2015, 2016, 2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Mother

 

 

KRYSTAL ROTA

 

Pronunciation: Roar-tah

Born: October 3, 1985

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Hooker

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2008-2018), World Cup (2008, 2017), NRL Nines (2015, 2017), New Zealand Maori, New Zealand touch, New Zealand tag, Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Mother

 

 

AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY

 

Pronunciation: Ah-eee-shar-lee

Born: September 23, 1991

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Otahuhu Leopards

Position: Prop

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2017-2018), World Cup (2017), NRL Nines (2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Mother

 

 

MASUISUIMATAMAALII (SUI) TAUASA-PAUARAISA

 

Pronunciation: Sue-ee Toe-ar-sah Par-wah-rye-sah

Born: October 30, 1987

Birthplace: Motootua, Samoa

Club: Linwood Keas (Christchurch)

Position: Second row/loose forward

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns wider squad (2018),

Occupation: Clinical administrator, Christchurch District Health Board

 

 

CRYSTAL TAMARUA

 

Pronunciation: Tar-ma-roo-ah

Born: July 30, 1995

Birthplace: Auckland

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Second row/loose forward

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2017), Cook Islands (2017), World Cup – Cook Islands (2017), Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Postie, NZ Post

 

 

ALICE VAILEA

 

Pronunciation: Vie-lee-ah

Born: January 30, 1996

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Second row

Rep Honours: Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Teacher aide, Waikowhai Intermediate School (Auckland)

Personal Note:

 

 

LANGI VEAINU

 

Pronunciation: Lung-ee Vee-eye-nu

Born: November 3, 1993

Birthplace: Auckland

Club: Otahuhu Leopards

Position: Wing

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2016-2018), NRL Nines (2016, 2017), Counties Manukau Stingrays

Occupation: Mother

 

 

SHONTELLE WOODMAN

 

Born: September 2, 1986

Birthplace: New Plymouth, NZ

Club: Richmond Roses

Position: Centre/wing

Rep Honours: Kiwi Ferns (2014-2018), World Cup (2017), Akarana Falcons

Occupation: Teacher, Melville High School (Hamilton)

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