David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Sipley keen for Roosters challenge


Rookie Warriors front-rower Toafofoa Sipley is keen to test himself against Kiwis internationals Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa in Sunday's clash against the Sydney Roosters.

The 21-year-old will make his second NRL appearance off the interchange bench at Mt Smart Stadium, after impressing in a brief cameo in the round nine win over St George Illawarra.

Sipley is expecting a fired-up Waerea-Hargreaves to lead the way for the visitors as the Tricolours look to bounce back from last week's embarrassing 46-0 defeat to Melbourne and improve on their lowly 15th-place ladder standing.

The hard-running youngster insists he will not be overawed, as the ninth-ranked Warriors search for their third straight victory.


"It's a big pack but I'm really looking forward to this challenge," said Sipley.

"He'll be a big unit, but at the end of the day, he's got two feet, I've got two feet, and it will just come down to who uses them best."

Having starred for the Warriors under 20s over the last three seasons, Sipley captained the side last year and was on track to break into the NRL before suffering a horrific season-ending knee injury in his first reserve grade appearance.

A grueling recovery kept him sidelined for almost a year but the former St Paul's College student says his enforced layoff helped renew his love of the game.

"It was pretty tough, I did my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament) and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), so it left me out of the game for quite a while," he said.


"I've had elbow surgery a couple of times, but this was my biggest injury so far. It made me miss the game so much that I'd be happy wherever I came back to play, even if it was club footy.

"It's always been a dream as a youngster to represent the Warriors so the fact I get to play another game, I'm pretty grateful.

"To get a second NRL opportunity is a blessing."

Away from football, Sipley keeps himself busy completing the final stages of a Bachelor of Physical Education at Auckland University, alongside one of his front-row comrades.

"I'm doing the same degree as Albert Vete. This would have been my last year but I'm training fulltime so studying part-time, picking up two papers each semester.

"Hopefully I can finish this paper during my time here at the Warriors through next year and see where we go from there."

His diligence and work ethic is appreciated by Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman, who expects Sipley to make further strides in his second outing.

"He's a really articulate kid and he's got a good head on his shoulders," said Hoffman.

"With the potential he's got he could be a good player for us in the future. He's just a young kid working himself into first grade.

"He gets another opportunity this week and he showed against the Dragons, even though it was only a short stint, that he really enjoyed playing first grade so we're looking for him to take another step forward this weekend."

Toafofoa Sipley
Age: 21
Height: 1.85m
Weight: 107kg
Position: Prop, second-row
Rep Honours: NZ Residents 18s (2013), Junior Kiwis (2015)
Junior club: Richmond Rovers, St Paul's College

- NZ Herald

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