Aspiring local rugby league players got the chance to throw a ball around and mix with some of their heroes at ASB Arena in Mount Maunganui yesterday.
A contingent from the Vodafone Warriors franchise including players Gerard Beale, Junior Pauga and Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck spent the afternoon in Tauranga ahead of the Warriors' NRL trial against the Melbourne Storm at Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday.
About 115 young league players took part in a skills and drills clinic led by the players, with some kids travelling from as far as Kawerau to be there.
Izaiah Kamana from Te Akau ki Papamoa School said he was "really excited".
"Just to do these drills and have fun and meet the players. I really love the Warriors; I'm a big fan."
The 11-year-old plays halfback for the Papamoa Bulldogs league club and said he had "heaps" to work on before the new season started.
It is Gerard Beale's first year at the Warriors, and he said this was his first community tour with the club.
The 27-year-old transferred from the Cronulla Sharks and is still recovering after breaking his leg while playing for New Zealand at the Rugby League World Cup last year.
Beale said he was pushing to be fit for the start of the NRL season and had been looking forward to this trip.
"I've played with and know a lot of boys who are from down these ways."
He said these kinds of events gave the players a chance to connect with the community and have fun with the kids while teaching them new skills.
"I know that the kids love it and they love it when the Warriors are in town, so I'm excited to be here."
The Vodafone Warriors contingent will be visiting schools in Rotorua today and tomorrow.