Friday night's Warriors double header will be a family affair in more ways than one for mother and son pair Lorina and Isaiah Papali'i.
The duo will make history as the first mother and son to represent the same NRL club at the same time when Lorina runs out at Mt Smart Stadium for the Warriors women's side's first trial match against the Auckland women's representative team, before Isaiah lines up for the NRL clash against the Newcastle Knights.
The night will hold extra significance for the Papali'is with Lorina and Isaiah both looking to represent her uncle, Steve Tavita, whose hopes of an NRL career were cut tragically short while coming through the grades with the Knights during the 80s.
Lorina was also raised in Newcastle and the connection between club and family continued when Isaiah made his Warriors debut against the Knights in round one of last season, before making his second appearance against Newcastle in the round 22 clash at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"I'm really excited. [It will be] quite a sentimental night," said Lorina.
"My uncle, he's actually in a wheelchair from playing league. He was in the system for the Newcastle Knights.
"So having Isaiah play against the Newcastle Knights, that brings back memories of him and his campaign to play for Newcastle.
"I grew up in Newcastle so it's a sentimental night as well."
In just his second season of first grade, 19-year-old Isaiah has cemented himself as a starting second-rower in the Stephen Kearney coached side.
The former Mt Albert Grammar rugby star has quickly built a reputation as a tireless worker in defence and in recent weeks has been able to showcase his offloading and attacking skills.
He intends on altering his preparation to get to the ground early to make sure he can watch on and support his mum before worrying about his own game.
"It's a dream come true," said Isaiah. "Just seeing all the hard work she's put in I'm happy that it's coming true and I can't wait to go out there.
"I'll come a bit early and watch her play and it will be quite a big night for both of us.
"I'll have to watch Mum and see how she's going out there, and then take some tips from her game into mine."
For Lorina's side, the curtain raiser game presents the first chance to see how the players are gelling ahead of the new NRL women's premiership next month.
Coach Luisa Avaiki has appointed current Kiwi Ferns captain Laura Mariu as captain with the Warriors set to play against Brisbane, St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters during the NRL finals in September.
"This is a good time to see some combinations together, the first time we actually play together," said Lorina.
"It will mean a lot to see the combos, what the team's got, and how our training is paying off."
The Papali'is will have plenty of relatives supporting them from the stands – more than the club's allocation of tickets for both players could satisfy.
Those who were late in requesting free tickets have been told to sort their own ahead of match day so as not to disturb either Lorina or Isaiah's preparation ahead of kick-off.
"All of the tickets we own have gone," she said. "We've had to tell them all of the tickets are gone and to buy your tickets and organise them before so we can concentrate on the game."
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