Warriors foursome off to Boot

Sixteen-year-old Sonny Fai is one of four young Vodafone Warriors named to attend the NRL?s first rookie camp in Sydney starting on January 30.

The three-day camp initiative was announced by the NRL late last year and will bring together 60 players from across the competition?s 15 clubs.

Back rower Fai, selected in both the Junior Kiwis and the New Zealand under-18 team last year, doesn?t turn 17 until March 20.

At 1.92m and weighing 100kg, the De La Salle College student is one of New Zealand league?s most exciting new talents.

Alongside him at the rookie camp will be three other teenagers including two ? Manu Vatuvei and Cooper Vuna ? who made their NRL debuts for the Vodafone Warriors last year.

Vatuvei (18), a 1.89m-109kg giant winger/centre, appeared five times in 2004 after making his debut midway through the season against South Sydney.

Winger Vuna was just 17 years and 47 days old when he debuted against Parramatta last August, making him the youngest player in the club?s 10-year history to play in the NRL. Not 18 until July, Vuna is returning to Otahuhu College this year.

The remaining player in the quartet is Frank-Paul Nuuausala, who turns 18 early next month.

At 1.85m and 107kg, he?s a back-row forward out of Auckland?s Mangere East club who turned out for Otahuhu Ellerslie in the Bartercard Cup last year. The two-times Junior Kiwi (2003 and 2004) gained selection for New Zealand A last year and also played for Samoa at the 2004 Pacific Rim Cup.

Several other New Zealanders have been named to attend the camp including Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Bronson Harrison (Wests Tigers), Frank Pritchard (Penrith) and Jack Afamasaga (Parramatta). Also included is Sia Soliola, the Junior Kiwi captain and centre who was in the 2004 championship-winning Roosters reserve grade side coached by new Vodafone Warriors assistant coach Ivan Cleary.

The rookie camp will provide an insight into all aspects of professional rugby league with sessions scheduled on marketing, sponsorship, cross-cultural awareness, collective bargaining, media work, alcohol education and the like.

There?ll also be some training sessions in an event incorporating input from NRL chief executive David Gallop as well as current or former players such as Craig Fitzgibbon, Scott Sattler, David Peachey, Michael Buettner, Tony Butterfield, Ricky Stuart, Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Mark Coyne.

Player list for the 2005 rookie camp:

Bulldogs: Cameron Phelps, Jamie Frizzo, Isaac Kaufman, Dallas McIlwain.

Cronulla: Luke Harlen, Keith Galloway, Rhys Lovegrove, Luke Douglas.

Wests Tigers: Benji Marshall, Bryce Gibbs, Bronson Harrison, Dean Collis.

Brisbane: Berrick Barnes, Sam Thaiday, Joe Clark.

Canberra: Michael Weyman, Todd Carney, Terry Campese, Alan Rothery.

Vodafone Warriors: Cooper Vanu, Manu Vatuvei, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sonny Fai.

Roosters: Ben Hannant, Sia Soliola, Sam Perrett, Micky Paea.

Newcastle: Kade Snowden, Riley Brown, Dane Tilse, Jarrod Mullen, Brad Tighe.

Melbourne: Steve Turner, Greg Inglis, Antonio Kafussi, Cooper Cronk.

South Sydney: Joe Williams, John Sutton, Roy Bell, Michael Greenfield.

Parramatta: Justin Tsoulos, Ben Smith, Ashley Graham, Jack Afamasaga, Joel


North Queensland: Brenton Bowen, Steve Southern, Matthew Scott.

St George Illawarra: Ben Creagh, Michael Ennis, Bryan Norrie.

Manly: Brent Stewart, Glenn Stewart, Kane Cleal, Travis Byrne.

Penrith: Ben Rogers, Ben Pomeroy, Frank Pritchard, Garrett Crossman.