The Vodafone Warriors were out in force helping major sponsor SKYCITY to put smiles on faces at the annual Kidz First Christmas Party at the SKYCITY Convention Centre on Sunday.
Almost every one of the club’s 37-strong NRL squad joined more than 200 Kidz First Children’s Hospital day-care patients along with their parents and caregivers.
Also present was Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott, head strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings and strength and conditioning coach Ruben Wiki.
They linked with New Zealand Breakers who also had their coach Andrej Lemanis in attendance along with assistant coach Judd Flavell and star veteran Dillon Boucher; Elliott and Lemanis spent some time together exploring ways the two franchises can look to work together.
Other sporting stars providing some Christmas cheer were professional boxer Shane Cameron, Olympic rowing champions Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond and Joseph Sullivan, bronze medallists Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown as well as fellow Olympic rower Emma Twigg and some Blues rugby union players.
The Vodafone Warriors put themselves about mingling with kids in a number of activities (including face painting), signing autographs, having photos taken and giving out goodie bags. They also joined Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the other sporting stars to sing Silent Night to the guests of honour.
Finally it was time for the big man to arrive, Santa and his helpers giving the stars of the day plenty to smile about.
The Kidz First Christmas Party rounded off a packed week of community and promotional appearances for the Vodafone Warriors, highlighted by the four days the players spent working on projects in the Otara area (mainly in schools) from Monday through to Thursday.
Manu Vatuvei, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell and and Carlos Tuimavave appeared at a VIP event staged by sponsor Bendon at its Newmarket store on Tuesday night while Simon Mannering, Thomas Leuluai, Feleti Mateo, Todd Lowrie, Elijah Taylor and Shaun Johnson were in attendance at the Vodafone Warriors’ Christmas function for their sponsors at Bellota at SKYCITY on Thursday night.
All players, staff and their families attended the club’s Christmas function on Friday afternoon and the entire NRL squad and staff were among the crowd to support Manu ‘The Beast’ Vatuvei when he made his successful Fight for Life debut against rower Eric Murray at Trusts Stadium in Waitakere last night.