Those who fled: New Zealand warriors



This is the 13th article in the series where I will pick a squad of the best players who have walked away from a club since 2000.

Today it is the turn of the New Zealand Warriors.

The only criteria is that the named player must have debuted for the Warriors, left the club after 2000 and then played with another NRL club rather than simply retiring or heading for obscurity in the ESL or rugby.

The details in brackets are the year the player made his debut for the Warriors and the number of games played for the club.

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (2017, seven games)

Yes, he’s coming back to the Warriors next year, but they could have done with his power play over the past four seasons.

2. Cooper Vuna (2004, five games)

Like CNK, Vuna didn’t play much in the freshman league in his few years with the club, so it’s no surprise he headed to the Knights in 2007 before becoming a double national. tongan.

3. Paul Whatuira (2000, five games)

Another barely-started Warriors player, Whatuira played his best football with the Tigers and became a 16 Test player for New Zealand.

4. Konrad Hurrell (2012, 71 games)

The powerful center played well in his first three seasons with the Warriors before a dip in form saw him released to join the Titans in mid-2016. He’s just a good club player.

(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

5. Bill Tupou (2010, 64 games)

Tupou started his time with the Warriors well, but after playing every game in 2012, he found himself on the outside in 2013, playing just nine games as a freshman. He left the Warriors for Canberra in 2014 but didn’t fare much better, and it wasn’t until he moved to the ESL in 2015 that he found himself a permanent place in the higher category.

6. Tui Lolohea (2014, 52 games)

Lolohea has played all over the backline during his career, and perhaps his versatility and movement all over the park has kept him from establishing himself as a top player. He left the Warriors for the Tigers in the middle of 2017 and his career drifted thereafter.

7. Mason Lino (2015, 17 games)

I’ve always liked Lino’s look, but he struggled for freshman appearances during his time with the Warriors. He joined the Knights in 2019 and didn’t do much better there, eventually heading to the ESL in 2021. He was a player who was never able to fully utilize his talent.

8. Leeson Ah Mau (2009, two games)

It’s probably a little hard to expect a club to identify talent after just two games, but he’s certainly the one that got away. He made his debut for the Warriors aged 19, but was dropped from the squad after injuries ruined most of his first season. He headed to the Cowboys in 2010, where he gained a foothold as a freshman, then became one of the Dragons’ most trusted performers after joining them in 2012, playing 16 Tests for Tonga and nine for La New Zealand. He eventually returned to the Warriors in 2019 to end his career.

Leeson Ah Mau of Warriors

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

9. Silva Havili (2014, 14 games)

Havili struggled with consistency early in his career and played just 14 freshman games in his first two seasons with the Warriors. A move to the Dragons in 2016 was no more successful, and it wasn’t until he joined Canberra in 2018 that he established himself as a true first-year student.

10. Ben Matulino (2008, 212 games)

Matulino was a junior Kiwi before joining the Warriors in 2008, where he quickly established himself in the freshman team and became a regular selection for New Zealand the following year. He joined the Tigers in 2018 in order to catch up with coach Ivan Cleary but was unable to return to his best form. He retired at the end of 2019.

11. Isaiah Papali’i (2017, 63 games)

After making his debut for the Warriors in 2017 aged just 19, Papali’I became a top-grade regular over the next two years before Parramatta came under Warriors custody and signed him for 2021. He quickly established himself as one of the best backrowers in the game.

12. Lewis Brown (2009, 84 games)

Brown joined the Warriors in 2009 and, after overcoming a foot injury, played nearly every game for the next three seasons as well as five Tests for New Zealand. He was picked up by Penrith in 2013, where he spent the next three years while winning another 11 Tests for his country.

13. Elijah Taylor (2011, 67 games)

Versatile, talented and sincere, Taylor has become one of the most successful warriors ever after making his debut aged 21 in 2011. He also made his Test debut the same year. He was signed by Penrith in 2014 but injuries limited his first-year opportunities.

It’s an interesting but strange group of players. They were all good, reliable freshmen when they were with the Warriors, but there isn’t a single player among them that you’d classify as an outright star who walked away from the club.


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