Two Dannevirke junior rugby league teams hit the big time today when they take to the field in Wellington's Westpac Stadium to play the Curtain raiser to the Warriors' NRL match against the Cronulla Sharks.
The teams are the Dannevirke Tigers under 7s and under 9s. They will be playing teams from the Patea Warriors club.
While the Tigers and the Patea Warriors play in the same zone, they have not played each other before.
Dannevirke Tigers chairwoman Naioma Chase said the teams were very excited to have been chosen to play the Curtain raiser.
"They are excited on two levels - one to be playing at The Cake Tin and two to be able to run on to the field through the same tunnel the Warriors could be running out of."
The club was approached in February to see it was interested in having teams play the Curtain raiser against the Patea Warriors.
Not surprisingly the club was very keen, Chase said.
The Tigers finished their season in May but most of the players have maintained their fitness by playing rugby and in the last month have had league training sessions.
Chase says while the club has known about the game for some time, because the teams will be playing outside of their season, in winter, and in Wellington it has taken time to put everything in place.
Both the under 7s and under 9s are mixed teams. The under 9s have three girls playing, including Rikki Te Pou who was named the coaches' and players' most valuable player for the season. The under 7s have five girls in the team.
The curtain raisers cap what has been an excellent season for the club, says Chase.
The club has 10 teams playing in the Manawatū competition. The under 7s won their grade while the under 9s were runners-up. The club's under 11s also took out Manawatū honours.
"The club has done really this season. A Sky Sport team came down and filmed our club day at the end of the season and this was shown on the Kiwi League Show."
Today's game isn't the first time a Tigers' team has played a Warriors curtain raiser. In 2017 Dannevirke Tigers Under 7s, 9s and 11s played curtain raisers when the Warriors played the Gold Coast Titans in Palmerston North.
But for the teams playing tonight this will be a whole new experience.
The 30 players will travel to Wellington tomorrow by bus with their managers, coaches and assistant coaches, leaving from The Hub at 1pm.
Around 100 supporters made up of family members and friends will also be travelling to the game.
Both teams will play their games at the same time on the same field, kicking off at 6.45pm. The games will be 15 minutes each way.
The Warriors-Sharks match kicks off at 8pm.