Vodafone Warrior Erin Clark has collected the top rugby league accolade at the 2014 ASB Young Sportsman of the Year Awards.
Clark, who turned 17 in September, has made a host of representative teams during his career so far including captaining the New Zealand Secondary Schools team against New South Wales Combined High Schools two months ago.
The half-back also led Manurewa High School to semi-final finishes in both the NZRL New Zealand Secondary Schools Nationals and Auckland’s College Rugby League First XIII competition.
He named the Vodafone Warriors Player of the Tournament at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Nationals prize giving and captained Point Chevalier’s Under-20 side in the Auckland club competition.
Clark has joined the Vodafone Warriors’ NYC squad on a three-year contract.
The other finalists for the rugby league award were Mount Albert Grammar School’s Mattais Heimuli and Zion Ioka (Kelston Boys’ High School). Heimuli made his NYC debut for the Vodafone Junior Warriors this year.
As speculation grows over the introduction of a second New Zealand NRL franchise, Warriors CEO Jim Doyle says he doesn’t think Wellington could provide the fans.
Doyle pointed to football-franchise the Wellington Phoenix as having a small crowd, saying the capital lacks the support base.
However, he is confident New Zealand has the talent to support another franchise, which has been lobbied for by an Australian-based consortium.
“There’s certainly the talent here,” Doyle said. “If you look at Wellington, I’m not sure that they would have the support base.
“If you look at the Phoenix, they’ve got a relatively small crowd and there’s a lot more to running an NRL club than just having the talent.
“It will be interesting to see if a bid comes together, could it justify the corporate support and the ownership structure and all those sorts of things.”
The Auckland-based Warriors have played a number of their regular-season games in Wellington and are planning four around the country next year.
Doyle said the Warriors’ games in the capital could help build support for a second team.
The Warriors are heading to Rotorua next year, taking on the Penrith Panthers in an NRL trial match at the International Stadium.
The season draw is still to be released.
The Warriors’ appearance in Rotorua will be their first in four years, after having played two trial games there in the past. In 2011 they beat the Parramatta Eels 24-4 while in 2010 they accounted for the Sydney Roosters 26-8.
The 2015 Valentine’s Day match will be the central focus of a ‘Festival of Rugby League’, which will feature community activities across the weekend plus a nines tournament and age-group fixtures on game-day to help launch the northern region competition.
In his first full season in charge, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden welcomed the chance to have the team on show in Rotorua.
“It’s always good to get around the country and give members and fans the chance to see the Vodafone Warriors up close,” he said. Merchandise from the vodafone warriors official online store has also expecting a huge rise in fan support for it’s Vodafone sponsored warrior clothing line.
“It’s a while since the team has been to Rotorua and the players are looking forward to it and so am I.
“This trial will be really important for us because it will be our last against an NRL side before the season starts. We’ll be looking to field the best side available to give us a good look at how we are shaping for the year ahead.” stuff.co.nz