Vodafone Warriors standoff James Maloney will make his first appearance of the year in Saturday’s NRL trial against Queensland Cup side the Burleigh Bears at Whangarei’s Toll Stadium. After missing the Greymouth match against Newcastle, the club’s 2010 NRL Young Player of the Year was an original selection for last Saturday’s encounter with Parramatta in Rotorua, only to be ruled out through illness. Formerly with Parramatta and Melbourne, Maloney (24) had an outstanding 2010 season when he scored 188 points including 10 tries in his first full NRL campaign. It put him in contention for Dally M recognition and he was on the shortlist for the standoff of the year at the Rugby League International Federation’s awards announced at Eden Park last November. Maloney also won selection in the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII which travelled to Port Moresby to play Papua New Guinea. The Vodafone Warriors will again take their full NRL squad for this trial, as they did for the trips to the West Coast and Greymouth. Of the club’s four major signings three will play. The much-decorated Shaun Berrigan, used at hooker and in the centres in the match against Newcastle, will have his second outing for the Vodafone Warriors after being rested against the Eels while former Parramatta centre-winger Krisnan Inu will play his third straight trial as will forward Steve Rapira, back home after two years with the North Queensland Cowboys. The younger Rapira will have older brother and Kiwi international Sam with him again after they played together for the first time in a Vodafone Warriors team last weekend. Among the others playing for the third consecutive week are utilities Kevin Locke, the exciting Glen Fisiiahi (four tries in his first two NRL trials) and Elijah Taylor, back rowers Ukuma Ta’ai, Ben Henry and Matt Robinson, hooker Alehana Mara and halfback Pita Godinet. Taylor will hold special interest, having lived in Kaitaia (and played age group representative rugby union for Northland) before joining the Vodafone Warriors; Locke also has strong family connections in Northland. Playing for the second time will be prop Ben Matulino, who was in the Kiwis’ line-up for their victory against Australia in last year’s Four Nations final. Joining Maloney in his first trial this year will be prop Upu Poching while a special feature of the selection is the inclusion of three members of the 2010 NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors – standoff Carlos Tuimavave, winger Omar Slaimankhel and second rower Sam Lousi – who are all poised to play in the first-grade side for the first time. All three are again eligible for the NYC this year along with Henry. In all eight players in Saturday’s squad were key performers for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2010, the club’s first team to win a title. “We’re still keen to look at different players and combinations and this weekend we’re also looking to give Carlos, Omar and Sam a taste of playing at the next level. It’s a good opportunity for them,” said Vodafone Warriors coach Ivan Cleary. “Ultimately this is all about building towards our final trial against Manly (February 26 at North Harbour Stadium) and, above all, our first NRL game of the year against the Eels at Eden Park (March 12).” Captain Simon Mannering and fullback Lance Hohaia have been held out of trials action following their heavy commitments last season with both the Vodafone Warriors and the Kiwis. They’re expected to be used for the only time in the trials against Manly before the ‘Battle of Eden’ against the Eels on March 12.

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