With only four days to go until the Broncos take on the Yowies in the first friendly of 2016, head coach, Andrew Henderson, is relishing the challenge.
“It’s an historic occasion for the Yowies RL as they embark on their first UK tour, and we welcome them to London for the first time. I’m expecting the unexpected from the Yowies and I know they will be a very attack minded team. They have some quality players in their team – none more so than former NRL and origin star Nathan Merritt. We are really looking forward to an exciting and entertaining game of rugby league.
“Saturday night will be great for our fans to have a look at our new signings. The players are chomping at the bit to play and test themselves on our new pitch at Trailfinders Sports Club. The game will be an important part of our preparations for the challenge of the 2016 season ahead.”
The Yowies are an Aboriginal sporting association who participate in various sports, including rugby league, touch football, cricket and netball, and will play two matches in the UK – the first against the Broncos, and a second against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Nathan Merritt played 237 NRL games between 2002-2014, and boasts 154 tries to his name. Merritt also represented the Indigenous All Stars from 2010-2012, and NSW Origin in 2013.
Also included in the touring squad will be Paterika Vaivai, who signed with the Newcastle Knights academy in 2012, before making his NRL debut in 2014.
Captaining the squad is Stephen Gordon, who also debuted with the Newcastle Knights in 2007, at only 20 years of age. A bad run of injuries interrupted his next few seasons, and he has since been a mainstay of the Newcastle Rugby League Country divisional championship representative team.
A diverse playing group, the squad has Auckland 9s, Melbourne Storm academy, NSW Cup, QLD Cup, Gold Coast Titans and even rugby union (NSW Waratahs academy) experience between them.
A Yowies spokesperson said during their tour of the UK they are looking forward to an exciting game, and an entertaining style of footy.
“The trip gives our players the opportunity and experience of playing against elite players in the UK. It’s also a great opportunity for some of our boys – who aren’t used to playing at a professional level – the chance to test themselves, and open their eyes to other opportunities outside of the NRL.
“If some of the boys play well and get a shot at furthering their rugby league careers in the UK, then that would be great, but the main focus is for the boys to enjoy the experience and be competitive.”