Baldwinson and Tonks to face Wigan

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7th February 2014

Former Leeds Rhinos juniors Jordan Baldwinson and Mason Tonks will line up against Wigan Warriors for New Zealand Warriors in next Wednesday's trial match in Hamilton but Sam Tomkins will not face his old club.

The First Utility Super League champions are playing the Auckland club at Waikato Stadium in a warm-up match ahead of their World Club Challenge against Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium on February 22.

New Zealand Warriors coach Matthew Elliott, the former Bradford Bulls boss, has included just five experienced players in his 19-man squad as he concentrates on his club's attempts to win the inaugural NRL Nines tournament in Auckland next weekend.

Tomkins, whose transfer fee of around £700,000, will make his first appearance for the club in Sunday's opening friendly against the Gold Coast Titans in Albany before being held back for the Nines.

Tonks and Baldwinson, a former England academy captain who made his Super League debut for the Rhinos against Widnes Vikings last June, joined the Auckland club in the close season and are expected to play for their Under-20s initially.

Hamilton-born forward Sam Rapira has been confirmed as captain for Wednesday's game and will be joined by another four of the club's most experienced players in Jerome Ropati, Jacob Lillyman, Ben Matulino and Dane Nielsen.

"This might be a trial but there's something very special about it," said Elliott. "For one it's an historic event because we're taking on Wigan for the first time but it's much more than that.

"The Wigan Warriors come here as one of the game's greatest clubs and also bring wonderful credentials with them after winning both the Challenge Cup and the Super League Grand Final last year.

"The trial is vital for Wigan ahead of the World Club Challenge against the Sydney Roosters but it's also important for us as we build towards our final pre-season hit-out against Brisbane (on February 23).

"With this trial coming only three days after the Gold Coast match and three days before the NRL Nines, our depth is being tested this week but that's really what trials are about."

Wigan fly out to Auckland after playing their opening Super League match against Huddersfield Giants this evening.

They will transfer to Hamilton on Tuesday before returning to set up base in Auckland, where they will train and watch the Nines.