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Papali'i hopes Nines captaincy is no one-off

Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i will be using this week's NRL Nines in Perth to further push his aspirations to one day captain the club at first-grade level.

Papali'i, who turned 21 last September, has been named to lead the squad at the tournament and will become the youngest person ever to captain a senior Warriors team in the process.

The previous mark was held by club legend Simon Mannering who assumed the role at 23.

While the absence of many regular NRL skippers at the Nines will see a number of clubs use one-off captains, Papali'i isn't viewing his appointment as a token gesture.

"Yeah [NRL captaincy interests me] to be honest," Papali'i said.

"Just playing NRL is a dream come true, but you always want to strive to be better and any opportunity that is given to me I would happily take.

"If it's being a captain then yeah for sure [I'd do it].

"I was pretty surprised… when it was getting named I had no clue it was me.

"But definitely rapt and excited."

Kearney to make tough choice in halves

The decision to appoint Papali'i as skipper for the tournament ahead of more experienced squad members like Blake Green, Leeson Ah Mau and Agnatius Paasi is a show of faith from the club.

While he has only 48 NRL games to his name, Papali'i does boast some previous captaincy experience and led the 2018 Junior Kiwis side which included current Warriors teammates Chanel Harris-Tavita, Hayze Perham and Paul Turner.

Coach Stephen Kearney said despite his age Papali'i is already someone who leads by example at the club and is a member of the emerging leaders' group.

"He is certainly a player that we hold in high regard in terms of his leadership qualities, in terms of not only what he does on the footy field, but certainly off it," Kearney said.

"He's got a great character about him. He understands the mentality of the NRL in terms of continually wanting to improve and get better.

"He lives that pretty much every day and that's the quality that stands out for me."

While the Warriors made a habit of fielding star-studded squads at the previous four editions of the NRL Nines at Eden Park in Auckland, this time around they've named a group which features seven players who are uncapped at NRL level and a number of others who sit on the fringes of Kearney's top side.

"Obviously we want to field a competitive team," Kearney said.

"But I think it is also an opportunity for some guys that are new to our system, and a couple of guys that we've had in our system for a couple of years, to get some experience at that level.

"It should suit the likes of Hayze, young Rocco Berry is another one, Edward Kosi [too].

"They are very capable footballers and it's just an opportunity to be on a bigger stage."

The Warriors kick off their campaign in Perth with a match against the Knights on Friday before facing the Roosters on Saturday.

The club will also field a team in the women's section of the tournament, headlined by captain Georgia Hale and frontline Kiwi Ferns Apii Nicholls, Charntay Poko and Crystal Tamarua.

Official NRL Travel packages, including NRL Nines tickets, accommodation options and exclusive experiences with NRL Legends can be purchased via

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