Tauranga's Carlos Savage, Ifor James and Tiwi Davies are making history, selected among the first touch players to represent New Zealand in the NRL Touch Premiership.
The trailblazing trio will play for the inaugural elite Warriors men's touch squad in this year's NRL Touch Premiership, facing teams aligned with Wests Tigers, Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos, Newcastle Knights and the North Queensland Cowboys.
This year is the first for the Warriors in the touch premiership, with the club entering both an elite men's and elite women's teams in the competition, which begins with a match between Eels and Cowboys this weekend.
Savage, James and Davies are no strangers to representing New Zealand in touch, having played for a number of national teams over their many years involved with the sport, but being the first, along with their teammates, to wear the Warriors' singlet in the competition is a major milestone they say they'll be able to look back on for many years to come.
"They're both pretty special to me, obviously New Zealand you're representing your country but this one's the first singlet for the New Zealand Warriors and the first year, so that's going to be something pretty special, too," Savage says.
"I don't know how many years this is going to go for but maybe looking back 20 years later you know, we could be talking to our kids saying 'I was in that first singlet 20 years ago', so that'll be something cool," he says.
"It's exciting to be part of the first [Warriors] team to play," Davies says.
"I'm very excited, especially being the first [Warriors] team to ever be in the competition," James says.
Savage and James are in the core 15-man Warriors touch squad, coached by Rahul Das, that will play the full season. At 19, James is the youngest in that squad.
The Warriors' first match will be a home game at Mount Smart Stadium on May 5, a date which clashes with this year's Touch World Cup, which Savage, James and the rest of the men's core squad are playing as part of the New Zealand Open Men's or Open Mixed teams.
This means a secondary Warriors squad have been given the call up to play the club's opening match of their first season, which Davies gets to be part of.
Davies, 26, will be the veteran of the young opening game squad, which he is excited about because the younger players will gain experience and build on the "huge talent already there", ultimately helping the future of the sport.
All three say joining the NRL Touch Premiership competition, which was formed last year, is advancement for the sport and hope it is the first step towards touch becoming a semi-professional sport and eventually, possibly, professional.
"Hopefully it promotes the sport," James says.
"I think it's huge, for the Kiwis, we'll be able to play at a higher level and I think maybe in the future it could be even bigger than what it is now. I think [the competition] will be huge for the sport, hopefully with years to come it can get into a semi-professional, or later on maybe professional, which would just be awesome," 24-year-old Savage says.
Touch is a major participation sport in New Zealand with 27,000 players in Auckland alone.
Like many others, Davies and Savage grew up around touch, naturally progressing towards it and playing it themselves. Both have spent many years representing New Zealand in the sport and have seen many players move on to other codes such as sevens, rugby or league because of the pathways offered in those sports.
If this competition helps create a pathway towards opportunities for touch players to pursue a career in the sport fulltime, then they believe it is likely to retain more athletes.
And it's a sport that has offered so much to all three including travel opportunities and meeting new people, with James citing "brotherhood" as the biggest highlight of his involvement
2019 Warriors Men's Touch Team
Rahul Das (Head Coach)
2019 Warriors Women's Touch Team
Leana Fox (Head Coach)
2019 NRL Touch Premiership
26 game days
Starts April 6