League: Warriors newcomer to step out tonight

Hooker Ian Henderson says he knows he faces a step up when he returns to the National Rugby League with the New Zealand Warriors.

The English-born, Australian-raised Scotland international will make his first appearance for his new club in a trial match against Newcastle in Auckland tonight.

Henderson had a brief taste of the NRL with the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta before joining English club Bradford in 2005.

He made an immediate impact with the Yorkshire side, playing in every match over the remainder of a Super League season in which the Bulls took out the grand final.

While happy to have grabbed the opportunity that Bradford had presented, Henderson said today that it was always his intention to return to the NRL at some stage.

Having achieved that by signing a two-year contract with the Warriors, he acknowledged the challenge that lay ahead.

"I think it's going to be a fair step up for me personally," he said.

"I've only played a handful of NRL games. To try to string together 24 in a row is going to be a big ask, so I have to prepare well and stand up to it the best I can."

Noted as a robust and gritty performer, Henderson has replaced the departed George Gatis.

He will share the dummy half duties with Nathan Fien, who is likely to be starting hooker against Newcastle at North Harbour Stadium.

The trial is one of two against NRL clubs for the Warriors, the other being against Manly on the Sunshine Coast on February 29.

The Warriors' major off-season signing, Kangaroo and former Brisbane back Brent Tate, who is returning from knee surgery, will sit out against the Knights.

So, too, will skipper Steve Price (calf), winger Michael Crockett (shoulder) and centre Jerome Ropati (hamstring), who have niggling injuries.

All four are expected to be in the squad to face the Sea Eagles.

Cleary said the main aim of the pre-season outings from the Warriors' perspective was to give players game time.

"Probably the biggest thing about trials is for individuals to get that first game and to get over any nerves they have from the build-up," he said.

"If you ask most players, they will say they like to play trials because it gives them the chance to play before it really counts."

The Warriors' open their NRL campaign with a Monday night fixture on March 17 away to defending champions Melbourne.

WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE
* North Harbour Stadium, Albany
* 8.00pm, Friday, February 15
* Referee: Shayne Hayne

- NZPA