Just one of Hawke's Bay's Niko brothers will play for the Warriors under-20 rugby league side against the Hawke's Bay Unicorns under-20s in Napier next week.
Eighteen-year-old Elijah Niko will get game time in both the frontrow and secondrow positions during the Park Island encounter which will be played in four 20-minute quarters. His 16-year-old brother and fellow forward, Kenny, has been ruled out of the match with an ankle injury.
"Kenny twisted his ankle during a wrestling training session a couple of weeks ago. He'll be back training again soon," Elijah said.
"As for me I can't wait to get down there and play in front of family and friends," said the former St John's College pupil and Hawke's Bay Ross Shield rugby player.
Elijah started a three-year contract with the Warriors in March last year. He got homesick so his younger brother Kenny and parents Petelo and Leoi joined him in March.
Kenny went along with Elijah to a few of his trainings and ended up scoring a four-year contract. Elijah had a couple of appearances for the Warriors under-20s in last year's Toyota Cup competition and hopes to be a regular member of the side this year.
He agreed the Warriors will start as favourites in the February 14 encounter against the Unicorns under-20s.
"But at the same time we will be showing them plenty of respect. Like all of us, those Hawke's Bay blokes want to enhance their chances of securing professional careers," said Elijah who has started a Diploma of Sports Management course at the New Zealand Institute of Sport.
He pointed out the Warriors team, which will be coached by former Kiwi Tony Iro and managed by Kiwi and Warriors legend Dean Bell, has been together since November.
"We had six weeks of fitness before our Christmas break and resumed training on January 6," said Elijah.
Key players in the Warriors side which will play in Hamilton on Thursday before travelling to Napier on Friday include prop Luke Laban, who was named New Zealand Rugby League's 2008 junior player-of-the-year, and fellow Junior Kiwis Thomas Ah Van, Meli Koliavu and Michael Afioga.
Numerous talent scouts from both sides of the Tasman, including former Kiwis and Warriors coach Frank Endacott and former Kiwi Peter Brown, will attend the clash.
Warriors under-20 squad: Michael Afioga, Junior Afualo, Thomas Ah Van, Kyle Bos, Anthony Bristow, Jason Cook, Gowan Duff, Simon Gibson, Shaun Johnson, Kurt Kara, Beau King, Meli Koliavu, Jerome Kutia, Luke Laban, Ryan Laurenson, Sam Limu-Franklin, Sione Lousi, Alehana Mara, Peter Mills, Elijah Niko, Brandon Nixon, Daniel Palavi, John Palavi, George Smith, Bill Tupou, Trent Wallace.