Warriors booked for pre season tussle in Whangarei

By Mike Dinsdale

Northland rugby league fans can show their faith in the sport when the New Zealand Warriors play in Whangarei in February.
The Warriors will play at Toll Stadium on February 19 against top Queensland Cup side Burleigh Bears.
The game will kick off at 5pm, with the Junior Warriors, who won the NRL's under-20 competition this season, playing the warm-up game at 3pm against a side yet to be confirmed.
The Whangarei game will be the Warriors second pre-season game ahead of the 2011 NRL season and the first time the team has played in Whangarei since its foundation year, 1995.
Whangarei City and Districts Rugby League vice-president Sharon Bird was pleased the Warriors will be playing in Northland and hoped the region's rugby league fans would be out in force to support the game.
"It's awesome news," Ms Bird said yesterday.
Northland Events Centre manager John Lynch was delighted to have a team of the quality of the Warriors bringing top level rugby league to the community.
"There are a lot of loyal Warriors fans throughout the Northland region and we want them to enjoy having their team in their own backyard.
"Having the Warriors at Toll Stadium once again shows the diversity of events at Toll Stadium and is part of having a venue that has something for everyone," he said.
For the past two years the Warriors have played pre-season games at North Harbour Stadium and many Northlanders have made the trip south for those games.
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said his players are looking forward to playing in front of Northland fans.

"We are excited about bringing our club to such a beautiful part of the country. The Burleigh Bears are a strong Queensland club and started pre-season training at the same time we did.
"They will be prepared and I have no doubt will provide a stiff challenge for our team," Cleary said.
The Burleigh Bears are a feeder club to the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL and have a steep history in the Queensland Cup having won two premierships in 1999 and 2004 and being a dominant force since the inception of the Cup in 1997. The Bears' home ground has been a regular training venue for the Vodafone Warriors ahead of away encounters with the Gold Coast Titans.
The Burleigh Bears has produced many NRL Players including current internationals Sam Perret (New Zealand) and Darius Boyd (Australia).
Tickets for the game are $10 or $15 for adults, and $5 and $10 for children.
The Warriors will start their pre-season campaign with a game against Parramatta Eels in Rotorua on February 12 and against the Manly Sea Eagles at North Harbour on February 26.
It's hoped the Warriors' big-name new signings, Feleti Mateo and Krisnan Inu - both recruited from the Eels - will play in the warm-up games.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is the new head coach of the Eels.

- Northern Advocate

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