The Howick Hornets 2011 Fox Memorial Championship team are pulling the boots back on and have challenged the 2019 Premier squad in an exhibition match.
Ex stand-off Jason Tavita approached the club late last year with the idea but due to the Hornets going deep into the finals series, the game could not be arranged.
With the Pakuranga Jaguars pulling out of a pre-season trial match, an opportunity to stage the exhibition game was too good to miss.
With only a few exceptions, players Stephen Wakefield and Lee Wetherill, now living in Australia, and Anthony Gelling playing for Widnes in the UK Super League, the core group of players who played in the 2011 Grand Final winning team remain in Auckland and are up for the challenge.
Two current players Tony Tuia and Paulos Latu are expected to turn out for the 2011 team and will be joined by club legends such as halfbacks Troy Becroft and Leroy Faavessi, front rowers Aiden Howard and David Mu, centres Mark Lamalu and Andrew Kitchener, winger Warren (Wazza) Bray, loose forward Andrew (Doodles) Wharton, second rowers Blake Ewe, Bunna Savage and Mafoa Filipi,.
Club co-chairman Bruce Campbell believes the game will generate huge interest across the league community and is picking the 2011 Champions to be a handful.
“Most of the 2011 squad have only recently retired in the last two or three seasons and while they may be a little rusty, they always have an amazing winning culture.”
Current premier coach Shaun Clark, who played for Manurewa against the 2011 Fox Champions remembers them as a smart and very tough football team.
“I don’t really know what to expect from the match but it has been a real bonus having ex players involved and sharing their knowledge with the wider group”.
The 2019 season will be the Howick Hornets 10th consecutive season competing in Auckland Rugby League premier competition the Fox Memorial.
The 2011 Grand Final win over the powerhouse of rugby league, the Otahuhu Leopards, was the club’s first and only Fox Memorial Championship.
The current crop of players have gone close the last two seasons losing in the dying minutes of the semi-finals against the same team the Pt Chev Pirates. The 2011 team will be determined to demonstrate their Championship pedigree but expect the 2019 Premiers, who are fresh from being crowned champions in the annual ARL 9s tournament last weekend, to show they are one of the favourites this year to pick up the club’s second Fox Memorial.
The game is set to kick off at midday on Saturday, March 16 at Paparoa Park. The Fox Memorial trophy will be on display and all are welcome to come along to the club.