Not only do we have an Aotearoa Warriors reserve grade team to face Western Suburbs Magpies over in Sydney, we can now finally suss out some Warriors Jersey Flegg footy. The Flegg lads will also head over to Sydney to face their Wests Tigers counterparts and I'm eager to follow the Warriors Flegg group closely as it's the low key best marker of the winds of change through Mt Smart.
I don't know a whole lot about the Jersey Flegg landscape, however the team named by coach Greg Boulous is absolutely jam-packed with talent. You need not look any further than the Jersey Flegg team to know that Aotearoa Warriors is now an undisputed monster in terms of recruitment and player development. Results at this level can't be leaned on too heavily, however I'm interested to see how the Warriors talent stacks up to the Australian clubs. Especially now that the Warriors have flipped their development scheme around so that there is a clear pathway; Flegg then a fair amount of time in Canterbury Cup and only then, NRL footy.
For those who aren't familiar with Boulous, he's a highly respected junior coach from Sydney who the Warriors snapped up prior to this season.
Here's the team Boulous has named for round one...
Fullback: Kayal Iro.
Wings: Selestino Ravutaumada, Harley Maynard.
Centres: Patrick Elia, Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega.
Halves: Paul Turner, Casey Smith.
Middles: Wes Veikoso, Phillip Makatoa, Tyler Slade.
Edges: Brody Tamarua, Isaiah Vagana.
Hooker: Sean Mullany.
Bench: Caleb Pese, Jyris Glamuzina, Junior Pua, Temple Kalepo/Sione Moala.
These are the most recent rep squads or national honours from guys in this team...
2018 Junior Kiwis
Aotearoa Under 18 Residents
Kayal Iro, Patrick Elia, Paul Turner, Caleb Pese, Temple Kalepo, Junior Pua Tyler Slade, Isaiah Vagana.
Aotearoa U16 Player of the Year
Aotearoa U18 Player of the Year
2018 National U17 Tournament Merit Team
Sione Moala, Jyris Glamuzina.
2018 National Secondary Schools Tournament Team
Selestino Ravutaumada, Junior Pua, Sione Moala (MVP).
Makatoa played in reserve grade last week. Aslo, the reserve grade team that played a pre-season trial vs Canterbury Bulls featured Makatoa, Pua, Slade, Veikoso, Iro, Elia and Smith.
As far as funky insight goes, we have confirmation that Mullany is with the Warriors and will be in action with the Flegg team. Mullany made the Junior Kiwis last year out of North Queensland Cowboys and featured in some pre-season Warriors footy, most notably the trial vs Melbourne Storm. If you are weary or concerned by any dummy half depth at the Warriors, just know that after Nathaniel Roache there is Mullany tucked away in Flegg.
Turner played fullback for the reserves last week and slides into the halves for Flegg, alongside Casey Smith. This allows for Kayal Iro to play fullback and in that trial vs Cantebury, Iro was in the halves alongside Smith.
Selestino Ravutaumada plays his first Warriors Flegg game on the wing after being the third notable recruit out of Rotorua Boys High School. I won't go too deep into the 1st 15 rugby backgrounds of all these lads because we know that most youngsters grow up playing union and league; Ravutaumada (RBHS), Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega (Kelston Boys) and Harley Maynard (MAGS) are examples of this.
As for the reserve grade, it's kinda bonkers how solid this team is and while they lost to Canterbury Bulldogs last week 14-19, the talent and depth on show is of greater intrigue than results. Here's the round two team to face Western Suburbs Magpies, named by Nathan Cayless (another coach recruited to the Warriors - peep the trend here)...
Fullback: Patrick Herbert.
Wings: Edward Kosi, Adam Pompey.
Centres: Gerard Beale, Taane Milne.
Halves: Hayze Perham, Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Middles: Chris Satae, Ligi Sao, Tom Ale.
Edges: Blake Ayshford, Leivaha Pulu.
Hooker: Karl Lawton.
Bench: Sam Cook, Paulos Latu, Clayton Williams, Preston Riki.
Ayshford drops back down from the NRL team and it feels like Ayshford is the perfect clubman. The idea of being an asset to the club without making major contributions to the NRL team may seem weird to those without much sporting knowledge, but Ayshford's ability to cover multiple positions and play his role within the club in terms of offering experience where it's needed is beautiful.
The backline has Herbert at fullback, with the inclusion of Taane Milne pushing Lewis Soosemea out as another new recruit Adam Pompey moves from centre to wing. I'm also keeping a close eye on Tom Ale (starting Junior Kiwis prop last year) who starts at lock and given his power/mobility, is one of the more intriguing middle forward prospects at Mt Smart.
Here are some notable stats from last week's loss to the Dogs...
Herbert: 16runs/168m, 1 line break assist, 4 tackle busts, 1 offload.
Sao: 14runs/142m, 3 offloads.
Ale: 1 try, 15runs/135m, 62 post-contact-metres (most for Warriors), 6 tackle busts, 1 offload.
Satae: 14runs/158m, 59pcm, 5 tackle busts, 2 offloads.
Perham: 16runs/111m, 1 line break assist, 2 try assists, 1 tackle bust, 4 offloads.
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Peace and love 27.