As seen on

Exciting second rower Jacob Laban ended something of a drought when he became One New Zealand Warrior #286 on NRL debut against South Sydney last Saturday.

Not since 2016 had a player with Wellington connections made his club debut with the Warriors.

That was Warrior #206 Issac Luke who, while Taranaki born and bred, had strong links with rugby league in the Capital through attending St Bernard’s College and Wainuiomata High School as well as playing for the Wellington Orcas at a junior level.

Now Laban, from one of Wellington’s best-known rugby league families, has added a new chapter.

While born in Samoa, Laban is Wellington through and through. Another St Bernard’s College product, he played for the Randwick Kingfishers before coming into the One New Zealand Warriors’ pathways system.

He moved to Auckland where he was initially signed in 2021 – along with Zyon Maiu’u – while finishing his schooling at Kelston Boys’ High School. Jacob’s younger brother Dezman, also a back rower, is in the Warriors’ Harold Matthews Cup (under-17) side for Sunday’s week one finals clash against Parramatta.

The Wellington influence on the Warriors began on opening night when two players with links with the Capital were there on March 10, 1995 – Warrior #8 Gavin Hill and #11 Stephen Kearney.

Players considered for this exercise qualify in a number of ways – by birth or living in the region at some point.

Former One New Zealand Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman, for instance, spent two years in the area when his father transferred on business; Hoffman junior attended Hutt Intermediate School and played age group representative rugby union during his time in Wellington.

Marc Ellis was born in Wellington and educated at Wellington College before his move to the University of Otago while Auckland-born Sione Faumuina went to Rongotai College.



#8 GAVIN HILL (Oriental Rongotai, Hutt Old Boys rugby union)
1995-1996, 14 games, 9 goals
#11 STEPHEN KEARNEY (Kapiti Bears, Randwick Kingfishers)
1995-1998, 79 games, 11 tries
#19 SYD ERU (Upper Hutt Tigers)
1995-1999, 59 games, 15 tries
#26 RICHIE BLACKMORE (Poneke rugby union)
1995-1996 & 2001, 35 games, 13 tries
#29 MARC ELLIS (Wellington College)
1996-1998, 36 games, 11 tries, 29 goals, 1 field goal
#54 ZANE CLARKE (Randwick Kingfishers)
1998, 5 games
#63 PETER LEWIS (Upper Hutt Tigers)
1999, 11 games, 1 try
#78 PAUL WHATUIRA (Wainuiomata Lions)
2000, 5 games
#98 SIONE FAUMUINA (Rongotai College)
2002-2006, 88 games, 18 tries, 33 goals
#106 VINCE MELLARS (Wainuiomata Lions, Petone Panthers)
2003-2004, 7 games, 1 try
#125 SIMON MANNERING (Te Aroha Eels, University Hunters)
2005-2018, 301 games, 63 tries
#142 BEN MATULINO (Te Aroha Eels)
2008-2017, 212 games, 17 tries
#162 ALEHANA MARA (St George Dragons)
2010-2012, 16 games
#175 SAM LOUSI (Hurricanes rugby union)
2012-2014, 3 games
#180 NGANI LAUMAPE (Hurricanes rugby union)
2013-2014, 30 games, 11 tries
#183 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
2013-2017, 40 games 1 try
#195 RYAN HOFFMAN (Hutt Intermediate School)
2015-2017, 60 games, 11 tries, 1 goal
#206 ISSAC LUKE (St Bernard’s College, Wainuiomata High School)
2016-2019, 78 games, 13 tries, 57 goals
#286 JACOB LABAN (Randwick Kingfishers)
2024, 1 game