The Vodafone Warriors and the Auckland Rugby League today announced they had reached agreement for the NRL club to take over operation of the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup.
Originally set up by the Mount Albert club as the Auckland Lions in 2007, the Vulcans have until now been run on a joint venture basis between the ARL and the Vodafone Warriors.
ARL chairman Cameron McGregor said the timing was right for the Vodafone Warriors to take control.
“Our original aim was to develop an outlet for local amateur players to play at the best level possible but stay in Auckland,” he said.
“A lot of our club players have benefited from the exposure with the Vulcans and have brought that valuable experience back into our Fox Memorial competition.
“Apart from players, the Vulcans have also provided a pathway for our local coaches, football staff, managers and match officials and we look forward to this continuing in the future.
“A highlight for everyone involved in rugby league in Auckland was seeing the Vulcans play in the 2011 New South Wales Cup grand final on a day when New Zealand teams lined up in all three grand finals.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed and have benefited from our involvement with the Vulcans and working with the Vodafone Warriors. However, the time is right for us to focus even more on our Auckland club football and rugby league at school level, especially on the back of the College Rugby League First XIII Competition’s hugely successful first season.”
Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah applauded the ARL for supporting a team which had helped to develop players and rugby league in the Auckland region.
“Without the ARL’s foresight we wouldn’t have had the Vulcans at all,” he said.
“We’re enormously grateful to them for making the venture possible and providing such valuable assistance in helping with the development of rugby league players and the game generally.
“After seven years it’s a good time for us to fully integrate the team into our organisation and provide a seamless transition from our development squad to the NYC, the New South Wales Cup and the NRL.
“This means the ARL’s financial contribution to the New South Wales Cup team will end immediately.”
New South Wales Rugby League chief executive Dave Trodden also complimented the Vulcans’ organisation for their contribution to the New South Wales Cup.
“They put in a lot of work to make it possible for us to have a New Zealand side in the competition,” he said.
“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. By having the Vulcans involved, our competition has grown considerably in its standing.
“The association with the Vulcans has been enormously beneficial to the New South Wales Cup and the other clubs by helping players experience the challenges of preparing for and coping with the travel demands involved in away games in another country. They’ve enjoyed the chance they’ve had of playing games outside New South Wales and we relished the chance to work with the Auckland Rugby League at executive level. We’ve built up a strong relationship with them.
“We now look forward to working with the Vodafone Warriors and we’re excited to have another NRL club fielding their own team in the New South Wales Cup.”
Scurrah said the highly-experienced Rohan Smith would soon be back at Mount Smart Stadium in his capacity as fulltime coach of the Vodafone Warriors’ New South Wales Cup side (he previously worked with the club in 2003-2004). Smith was assistant coach of the Penrith team which beat the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC grand final on October 6.
Scurrah said the Vodafone Warriors’ NSW Cup side would now give the club an official team for players not selected to play in the NRL as well as being used to develop NYC players (as it was this year for David Bhana, Siliva Havili, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Albert Vete and David Fusitua). Bhana, Havili, Faitala-Mariner and Vete have all been upgraded to fulltime NRL contracts for the 2014 season while Fusitua is still NYC eligible.
Scurrah said additional players would also be contracted to the NSW Cup side.
He said more announcements would follow about the squad including the launch of a new playing kit for the team.