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Warriors coming to the Manawatu

The Warriors will play the Gold Coast Titans in an NRL pre-season game in Palmerston North next year.

The Warriors will make their first trip to Palmerston North since 1995 when they host the Gold Coast Titans in a pre-season match in February.

The game is at CET Arena on Sunday, February 19 and will be their only trial match of the season in New Zealand.

The last time the club played a match in Manawatu was a trial against Central Districts at the Palmerston North Showgrounds on the original Auckland Warriors' national tour before their debut in the competition in 1995.

Warriors aside, the other recent major rugby league games in Palmerston North were when the Kiwis played six tests at the Showgrounds throughout the 1990s against Great Britain (three times), Australia, France and Papua New Guinea.

The February 19 trial against the Titans will be the second of the Warriors' two pre-season games, the other one to be played in Australia the previous weekend, where the opponent and venue are yet to be confirmed.

The NRL nines pre-season tournament is on February 4 and 5.

Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said the decision to play in Palmerston North underlined the club's commitment to take the team to the regions.

"Last season we had trials in Whangarei and Nelson, as well playing a NRL home game in New Plymouth and two away games in Wellington and Christchurch," he said.

"It's really important to us to visit other centres because we want to do all we can to connect with members and fans throughout New Zealand."

New Warriors coach Stephen Kearney, who is originally from Kapiti Coast, said it will be an important game because it is their last trial before the season starts.

"We'll definitely be looking to put out our best available squad to face Gold Coast and we'll be expecting a solid performance ahead of the season starting," he said.

If that's the case then most of the Warriors 2017 squad could feature, including Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Solomone Kata.

In line to appear for Gold Coast in Palmerston North will be superstar Jarryd Hayne plus former Warriors Konrad Hurrell and Aganatius Paasi, as well as Greg Bird, Ryan James, Josh Hoffman, Chris McQueen, Nathan Peats and Ash Taylor.

If Hayne plays in Palmerston North it will make it a high-profile game, with the superstar having been a big drawcard since his return to the NRL this season.


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