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FutureStarrNew Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers NRL Pre-Season 2023
The Warriors followed up their impressive opening trial win with an emphatic 48-12 triumph over Wests Tigers in Auckland. New recruits Luke Metcalf and Te Maire Martin put on a show, while Marcelo Montoya scored his hat-trick.
Viliami Vailea and Moala Graham-Taufa also scored late to help Wests Tigers secure a comfortable victory. This match served as a prime example of Andrew Webster's bullish playing style, with the Warriors looking to extend their lead in the NRL Pre-Season Challenge.
Metcalf made his NRL debut for the Sharks last year and delivered an impressive performance. He scored seven tries, kicked 13 goals, had five try assists and averaged 101 running metres per game.
This week Metcalf joined the Dolphins, giving him an opportunity to shine with the NRL team. A Coffs Harbour native, Peter O'Sullivan highly rated him.
By 2023, the 22-year-old is expected to be a full-time member of the NRL squad. He has already made an impact for their NSW Cup side and could make his first grade debut this season.
His performance during NRL Pre-Season 2023 was an inspiring highlight and testament to his potential. He played nine games last year and scored seven tries, demonstrating his versatility on both sides of the ball.
Metcalf is still young, but his talent can be seen in the NRL. It will be up to his coach to decide where he fits best, but it appears certain that Metcalf has what it takes to start at centre in Round 1.
On this night, the Warriors were a formidable unit with winger Marcelo Montoya scoring a hat-trick and Jackson Ford also contributing. Te Maire Martin set up Montoya for his opening goal with an excellent long-range cut-out pass that put them ahead early on. With that lead established, Te Maire Martin took control of the match early and put Leicester Tigers on the back foot early on.
Andrew Webster will have a difficult task selecting his halves lineup after Martin, Shaun Johnson and Ronald Volkman all made an impact against the Tigers tonight. With so many new faces coming into the NRL this year - many from outside of it - this was an encouraging sign for where they're headed in terms of depth.
This weekend, the 2019 NRL challenge kicks off and we can expect to witness many exciting teams from around the league competing for a $100,000 prize. Now is an important moment for NRL clubs as they gather their best players together in pursuit of victory in their inaugural trial match.
Martin's return to NRL is a timely boost for the Warriors. After missing three matches due to a brain bleed in 2019, the former Waikato fullback is given another opportunity in 2019 after signing a development deal with the Warriors.
Martin is a fiery Waikato player known for his strength on the ball. His experience with Taharoa Steelers will serve him well in his NRL comeback and should provide much-needed stability at No.6 this season. Last year, Martin joined Shaun Johnson and New Zealand to form an unbeatable combination; with eight try assists under his belt during that role with the Kiwis, Martin knows how to get people over the line with ease and precision.
He was the star of NRL Pre-Season 2023, scoring a hat trick and providing two assists as his Warriors side easily dispatched Wests Tigers 48-12 at Mount Smart Stadium on Thursday night. Wing Marcelo Montoya also had an outstanding game, while centre Viliami Vailea and new recruit Luke Metcalf also scored goals for New Zealand.
The Warriors were dominant in the opening half, winning 11 sets to take a 14-0 advantage at halftime. They were assisted by Jackson Ford's impressive strength - he made 52 tackles and kicked five penalties.
With the Tigers holding back their top line talent in order to gain experience, the Warriors' youngsters had a chance to shine. Tom Ale, Brayden Wiliame and Bunty Afoa all impressed as part of an energetic pack.
Martin was a major factor in the attack, drawing in defenders and creating an opening for Montoya to score off of a cut-out pass from the halfback. He then helped put the Warriors ahead again after Vailea's quick play-the-ball attempt.
On the bench were Siua Wong and Charlie Staines. Roosters fans will have kept an eye on Wong after leading SG Ball to a grand final and being touted by league guru Phil Gould as one of the next greats. He will look to impress at trials while other players like Smith and Kepu hope to make the cut come Round 1.
Viliami Vailea has had an outstanding start to his NRL preseason. He scored two tries and played an important role in keeping Wests Tigers at bay during the Warriors' opening trial match of 2023.
He was signed by the Vodafone Warriors at the start of this year after impressing with his performance for Aorere College in Auckland's renowned First XV rugby union competition. Additionally, he has represented feeder club Redcliffe in Queensland Rugby League's Intrust Super Cup.
Vailea is an impressive young player who has already demonstrated his potential in the NRL, with his two tries against South Sydney and Melbourne last season demonstrating his speed and strength. Vailea now has the chance to make even greater contributions this season as the Warriors look to build on their successful first season under new coach Luke Webster.
The Warriors capitalized on some missed chances against the Tigers, with Vailea making yards at will and finding gaps to score. He finished well in the corner after a sweeping move but Eiden Ackland's conversion attempt was no longer long enough to cross over the line.
After the break, the Warriors found their swagger again. Te Maire Martin drew in defenders and Brayden Wiliame provided Jackson Ford with a ruck to get into an opening. He finished well in the corner to put them ahead 21-0 with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Warriors made a promising start, but there was still work to be done. A strong performance was essential if they wanted to guarantee their place among the top four.
Webster must translate his vision into reality, and with young prospects like Tom Ale and Rocco Berry as well as development players Demitric Sifakula, Ali Leiataua and Jacob Laban having the potential to make the cut, there is an exciting chance for the Warriors to turn around their fortunes.
In 2023, the Warriors have a realistic chance to return to the top four. But it will take hard work from everyone involved for that goal to be achieved. But with Webster leading the charge and his team showing confidence and belief in one another, it would be foolish to think things won't improve.
The New Zealand Warriors and their fans enjoyed a triumphant opening match of the NRL preseason on Sunday afternoon. It was an opportunity for some of rugby league's brightest stars, including a Fiji Bati trifecta as well as several NRL big guns to be seen in action. But none more so than former St George Illawarra Dragons centre Brayden Wiliame - who will be looking to make his NRL debut after signing a two-year deal with them last December.
New Zealand boasts a formidable squad, featuring NRL stars Blake Lawrie, Moses Suli and Zac Lomax alongside NRL veterans Mikaele Ravalawa and Moses Mbye as well as NSW Cup gun Treigh Stewart and development list standout Connor Muhleisen. There are plenty of intriguing highlights in the Warriors' latest offering; it should be an entertaining start to their 2023 campaign if they can maintain their form against top tier opposition on Saturday at 7pm at 1300SMILES Stadium.