NRL: Fisiiahi to debut for Warriors

Glen Fisiiahi. Photo / Getty Images
Glen Fisiiahi. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has handed 20-year-old Glen Fisiiahi his National Rugby League (NRL) debut against the Parramatta Eels at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday night.

Joining Fisiiahi in their first appearances for their new club are experienced new signings Feleti Mateo and Shaun Berrigan, with Mateo named in the second row against his former teammates and ex-Brisbane utility Berrigan picked on the interchange bench.

The match will be the first Warriors home game in Auckland played away from Mt Smart Stadium since the club was formed in 1995.

Fisiiahi, new signing Krisnan Inu, Kevin Locke and Bill Tupou were all in contention for the right winger's spot throughout last month's trial matches, with Fisiiahi ultimately rewarded for his form just months after excelling for the Junior Warriors when they won the 2010 NYC grand final.

Playing at fullback, Fisiiahi scored 20 tries in 26 games for that side and went on to play for the Junior Kiwis in a two-match series against the Junior Kangaroos.

He featured in all four NRL trial games, scoring a double in his first two outings against Newcastle and Parramatta followed by a fifth try against Burleigh.

Fisiiahi had not expected his NRL debut to come so soon.

"The last few months have been unbelievable, winning the NYC premiership with the Junior Warriors, playing for the Junior Kiwis and then joining the NRL squad for the off-season," he said.

"It's been amazing training with all the top players we have at the club and playing with them in the trials.

"And now I've been given the chance to play my first NRL match already. I didn't expect this just yet but I'm so excited and looking forward to running out on to Eden Park on Saturday night."

Cleary is equally excited.

"There was certainly plenty of competition for the right wing, as there was for positions right across the park," Cleary said.

"But Glen deserves this chance for this game. So far he has done everything we have expected of him."

The match will mark successful Kiwis coach and former Warrior Stephen Kearney's first outing as an NRL head coach since being signed by Parramatta.

New Zealand Warriors: Lance Hohaia, Glen Fisiiahi, Joel Moon, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, James Maloney, Brett Seymour, Sam Rapira, Aaron Heremaia, Russell Packer, Simon Mannering (captain), Feleti Mateo, Micheal Luck.

Interchange: Shaun Berrigan, Jacob Lillyman, Ben Matulino, Lewis Brown, Steve Rapira.

- NZPA

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