The Vodafone Warriors play the NRL's defending champions the Melbourne Storm at Rotorua International Stadium this weekend. Rotorua Daily Post sports reporter David Beck gives us his top reasons to get excited and get along.

First look at new faces

While superstars such as Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Isaac Luke are not in the Warriors squad for the Rotorua game, local fans will have the privilege of the first look at some of the side's new recruits.

Head coach Stephen Kearney's 23-man squad includes experienced Kiwi Peta Hiku, Cook Islands international Anthony Gelling, Mate Ma'a Tonga players Agnatius Paasi and Leivaha Pulu, Taupo-raised Matiu Love-Henry and 18-year-old Rotorua Boys' High School product Hayze Perham.


Given the disappointing end to the Warriors' 2017 season, nobody's place in the starting side is guaranteed and these new signings will be desperate to show they can help make a difference.

The Storm are a classy outfit

The Melbourne Storm system is one of the best in world sport, let alone the NRL. Head coach Craig Bellamy and football director Frank Ponissi have spent time with the All Blacks, NFL franchises and European football clubs, all in an effort to learn how the world's best sporting systems tick and secure long-term success.

This sort of advanced preparation has seen many of the Storm's young players successfully make the step up to first grade and impress from the get-go.

The Storm have named a strong side for today's World Club Challenge in Melbourne, so tomorrow will likely field a relatively inexperienced side, providing an opportunity to see some stars in the making.

History makes it hard to predict a winner

The Warriors have played the Storm more times than any other club (40) and their record is respectable - 16 wins, two draws and 22 losses, which when you consider Melbourne are a side that rarely lose, is actually quite impressive.

The Warriors have played the Storm in three previous trial matches, in 1999, 2009 and 2017, winning two and losing one.


One of the Warriors' most memorable victories was in the 2011 playoffs, when they played the Storm for a place in the NRL Grand Final. The Warriors controlled the match and sealed the Storm's fate with Johnson mesmerising the defence to send Lewis Brown in for the try that would send them to their second grand final, where they eventually lost to Manly.

These sides last met in round eight last year, with the Storm winning 20-14.

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Hayze Perham to debut at home

Rotorua fans will be well aware of what Rotorua Boys' High School product Perham brings to the table. Blessed with attacking flair, crunching defence and a fantastic attitude - when Perham is on the field he makes things happen.

To make his debut for the Warriors so early on - he only started training with them in December - will be a dream come true. To do it in the town where he grew up, in front of friends and family, will make it all the more special. Expect a large contingent of past and present Rotorua Boys' High School students to be there cheering him on.

This is our year (maybe?)

With a new season comes new hope. Speaking as a lifelong Warriors fan, I admit I have gotten my hopes up in the past and been burned. However, with the talent this squad comprises I cannot help but feel like if everything starts to click they could achieve great things.

Let's give them a chance, get out there and show our support this weekend and do all we can, as fans, to push this side towards success. As the song goes: "It's just a matter of faith".