While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Winger Bill Tupou has become the latest Vodafone Warriors NRL grand finalist to be chosen for the Kiwis' end-of-season tour incorporating Sunday's one-off Test against Australia and the 2011 Four Nations.
Brought in as a replacement for unavailable club-mate Krisnan Inu, Tupou (21) flew in from Auckland last night to link up with the Kiwis at their Sydney hotel.
His selection lifts the Vodafone Warriors' complement in the 2011 Kiwis back to seven as he joins team-mates Kevin Locke, Lewis Brown, Russell Packer, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino and Elijah Taylor. Another three of the club's players - Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Johnson and Inu - have been ruled out or have withdrawn after being selected.
After playing 12 games in his rookie NRL season in 2010, Tupou played 17 times this year, scoring five tries. He now has nine tries in 29 appearances. A product of the Bay Roskill and Marist clubs in Auckland, Tupou is yet another of the Vodafone Warriors' NYC graduates scoring 37 tries in 49 Toyota Cup matches from 2008-2010.
His inclusion means more than half the squad (12 players) have come through the Toyota Cup competition. The others are Gerard Beale, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Kieran Foran, Alex Glenn, Kevin Locke, Sam McKendry, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Kevin Proctor, Elijah Taylor and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
The Kiwis now have 22 players in camp in Sydney with Thomas Leuluai (Wigan) joining them when they arrive in England later next week.
The team leaves Sydney today (Wednesday) bound for Newcastle to continue preparations for Sunday's clash against the Kangaroos at Ausgrid Stadium.