They were unwanted by the Warriors and secured mid-season releases to head to Australia in search of a regular first grade spot – and a couple of clubs tipped to vie for the NRL wooden spoon in 2018 are glad they did after Round 1.
Tuimoala Lolohea, who left Auckland during 2017 to take up a deal with Wests Tigers, slotted a clutch sideline conversion with 90 seconds remaining to snatch a stunning 10-8 upset over the heavyweight Sydney Roosters.
The utility-back was dropped by Tigers coach Ivan Cleary during the trials and it seemed Corey Thompson would have the fullback duties for Round 1. But Lolohea earned a reprieve and came up with the goods after Thompson, playing on the wing, scored a brilliant score-levelling try in the corner.
Mid-2016 recruit Konrad Hurrell proved the match-winner for the Gold Coast Titans, who pegged back an 18-point deficit to pip Canberra 30-28 in the last match of Round 1.
The enigmatic centre capped a barnstorming performance by latching onto halfback Ashley Taylor’s grubber and diving over under the posts with less than two minutes on the clock.
Hurrell, who scored 41 tries in 71 games for the Warriors from 2012-16, will play his first game at Mount Smart Stadium in Titans colours on Saturday night in a clash between two unlikely opening-round winners.