There are so many ways for you to catch the NZ Kiwis in action
during the Four Nations …
The year's international rugby league extravaganza is rapidly
approaching and diehard fans have plenty of options for showing
their support for the Kiwis, both in New Zealand and across the
Top of the list would be the official supporters' trip to the
doubleheader at Suncorp, hosted by none other than NZRL Patron Sir
Peter "The Mad Butcher" Leitch.
Experience Group are taking the official Kiwis supporters tour
to Brisbane for the Kiwis v Kangaroos/England v Samoa games on
October 25, staying at Brisbane's Mantra Terrace Hotel.
Leaving Auckland Friday, you'll arrive in time to attend the
'behind-closed-doors' Kiwis training, known as the captain's run.
That evening, there's an exclusive supporters function, where you
can mix with some of the Butcher's personal friends, who also
happen to be Kiwis legends
On Game Day, you will enjoy the match entertainment from the
comfort of Suncorp's Gold seating, before returning to Auckland on
Packages cost from $1325, but be in quickly - numbers are
limited. Contact the Experience Group at
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 09 304 0352.
Mai FM and The Rock FM radio stations are also offering lots of
opportunities to win trips and tickets right up until the
tournament kicks off. Keep an eye on their websites and an ear on
This week Mai is offering a trip for four to all four Kiwis
games, including the double header on the opening weekend. Just
register yourself and your mates, if all four answer the phone
"Thanks Mai for sending me to the Four Nations", you can start
packing your bags.
Check out their offer here.
Next week, The Rock FM, in conjunction with principal Kiwis
sponsor Pirtek, will launch a competition for two to attend the
Four Nations final in Wellington on November 15. Listen to the
Morning Rumble for details.
Meanwhile, six lucky winners have secured trips for two to
Brisbane for the opening games, courtesy of Fairfax Newspapers,
Tourism and Events Queensland, Air New Zealand, Next Hotel and New
Zealand Rugby League.
Those winners are Byron Wagstaff of Auckland, Neil Gordon of
Palmerston North, Lew Kahui of Hawera, Juliet Hunter of Amberley,
Matthew & Louise Down of Kapiti Coast and Emiel Fong of
Opportunities like this don't come along very often, but
Counties Manukau coach Rod Ratu is trying to remain calm ahead of
what could be a season-defining grand-final rematch against Pirtek
NZRL National Premiership champions Akarana on Saturday.
With a loss already to their names this year, the titleholders
teeter on the brink of elimination. Another defeat would be make
their chances of taking a fifth straight crown very remote
And that must be a mouth-watering prospect for the Stingrays,
who went unbeaten through the 2013 regular season, only to falter
against their archrivals when it mattered.
Victory now would be a huge boost to their hopes of going all
the way this time, but don't try telling Ratu that.
"This week could be our first big test," he says, after watching
his side dispatch three opponents by an average of 55 points
through the opening rounds.
"But, as staff, our focus is to stay focused on the things we
need to do get the team out on the field and play well.
"Akarana have been in this position before and found a way to
win. We're well aware that they will win the games they set their
minds to, so we're not reading too much into this situation.
"Their history speaks for itself. We expect to see a very
different team out there this week and a very different
But Ratu also issued a veiled warning to the rest of the
competition - we probably haven't seen the best of his players
"We're travelling well, but it has required a bit of management
from our part," he says. "Our boys are coming off a tough season in
the Fox Memorial [club competition], and some of our top players
and veterans have had to carry their teams through that.
"There are quite a few niggly injuries in the team and we've had
to carefully monitor recovery, so we probably haven't started the
campaign at 100%."
Fortunately, the Stingrays youngsters have proved more than
capable of navigating through a schedule that has protected them
from the top teams early on.
This encounter will end that soft run at just the right time, as
they begin their build-up towards the post-season.
After their loss to Canterbury Bulls, Akarana weren't that
convincing last week against Wellington Orcas and will need to lift
their game against the rampant South Aucklanders at Ellerslie
Elsewhere, the unbeaten Bulls are at home to Wellington on
Saturday, while the winless Northern Swords have perhaps their best
remaining chance of success this season, when they host Wai-Coa-Bay
PIRTEK NZRL NATIONAL PREMIERSHIP
Saturday, September 20
1.30pm Akarana Falcons v
Counties Manukau Stingrays,
Ellerslie Domain, Auckland
Stingrays: 1-George Edwards, 2-Raymond Taimale,
3-Lafu Feagaiga, 4-Filipine Jacob Aki, 5-Tomas Aoake, 6-Carlos
Hotene, 7-William Stowers, 8-Sione Feao, 9-Jethro Friend, 10-Zion
Tesese, 11-Dion Snell, 12-Jamel Hunt, 13-Eko Malu, 14-Terence
Phillips, 15-Joseph Price, 16-Matasi Sollins, 17-Uila Aiolupo
Referee - Aaron Kesha
Touch - Rochelle Tamarua & Chris McMillan
2.30pm Canterbury Bulls v
Denton Park, Christchurch
Bulls: 1-Ken Tofilau, 2-Sioeli Otufangavalu,
3-Erwin Sauni, 4-Jack Mundy, 5-Will Tafua, 6-Toi Sepuloni, 7-Izic
Placid, 20-JJ Smith, 9-Manu Weepu, 10-Chris Bamford, 11-Kyle Leka,
12-Corey Lawire, 13-Agaese Fiso, 14-Alani Kakoi, 15-Paradise Mann,
16-Paul Sauni, 17-John Tafua
Orcas: 1-Petera Rikiriki-Williams, 2-David
Saumolia, 3-Ben Tuia, 4-Raymond Lesoa,
5-Tomasi Mocevakaca, 6-Michael O'Brien, 7-Anthony Utanga, 8-Chance
9-Grayson Putu, 10-Robbie Mckenzie, 11-Mona Sio, 12-Robin Yates,
13-Nicholas Phillips, 14-Chozen Rameka, 15-Denzil Hokianga,
16-Joseph Apikotoa, 17-Paul Lemana
Referee - Tony Arnel
Touch - Jason Wilson & Daryl Maitai
Sunday, September 21
2.30pm Northern Swords v
Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Swords: 1-Israel Tahere, 2-Waipu Stone,
3-Wiremu Te Iringa, 4-Ross McFarlane, 5-Tumoana Halkyard, 6-Daniel
Fulop, 7-Dean Schreurs, 8-Chris Apoua, 9 Joel Freeman,
10 Michael Salase, 11-Adam Donaldson, 12-Manu Tuhoro,
13-Kelsin Harding, 14-Andre Lennox, 15-Jordan Hool, 16-Sharif
Mangu, 17-Patrick Tane
Stallions: 1-Caleb Heke, 2-Isaac Robinson,
3-Mounga Molisi, 4-Riki Collier, 5-Hohepa Monk, 6-Johnson Peri,
7-Hayden Karena, 8-Hone Love-Henry, 9-Raureti Grace, 10-Shaquille
Jakeman, 11-Terry Kopua, 12-Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano, 13-John Koko,
15-Callin Tereu, 16-Mosese Mafi, 17-tbc
Referee - Kiko Puhipi Hibbs
Touch - Chris McMillan
& Tane Kaiwai
Central Vipers bye
Six players have been added to the extended NZ Kiwis
squad, after the weekend's round of NRL playoffs.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has named Josh Hoffman and
Alex Glenn from the Brisbane Broncos to his training group, along
with Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris, and the Bromwich brothers - Jesse
and Kenny - from the Melbourne Storm.
Their inclusion brings the squad to 26, with several more
candidates still alive in the competition finals and yet to be
named. Cronulla Sharks wing Valentine Holmes, named last week, has
withdrawn from consideration to chase his fortunes with the Junior
The final selections for next month's Four Nations
tournament will be made after the NRL Grand Final on October 5. The
Kiwis begin their campaign against Australia at Brisbane's Suncorp
Stadium on October 25.
The train-on squad so far is:
Gerard Beale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Adam Blair
(Wests Tigers), Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Fa'amanu Brown
(Cronulla Sharks), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), David Fusitu'a
(Vodafone Warriors), Glenn, Harris, Siliva Havili (Vodafone
Warriors), Hoffman, Konrad Hurrell (Vodaone Warriors), Shaun
Johnson (Vodafone Warriors), Ngani Laumape (Vodafone Warriors),
Thomas Leuluai (Vodafone Warriors), Simon Mannering (Vodafone
Warriors), Suaia Matagi (Vodafone Warriors), Ben Matulino (Vodafone
Warriors), Matt McIlwrick (Canberra Raiders), Jason Nightingale (St
George Illawarra Dragons), Proctor, Sauaso Sue (Wests
Tigers), Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Martin Taupau (Wests
Tigers), Bodene Thompson (Wests Tigers), Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone
Meanwhile, Joseph Manu, Taane Milne, Braden Uele (Sydney
Roosters), Sam Manuleleua and Tulsa Saumamao (South Sydney
Rabbitohs) join the Junior Kiwis group, preparing for their test
against the Junior Kangaroos on October 18.
The squad is:
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Herman Ese'ese
(Canterbury Bulldogs), Jahrome Hughes (Gold Coast Titans), Sione
Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Manu, Manuleleua, Milne, Una Mohi
(Melbourne Storm), Niua Puaka (Melbourne Storm), Saumamao, Renouf
To'omaga (Canterbury Bulldogs), Uele
When Kiwi Ferns star Sarina Fiso attended the Dick Smith NRL
Auckland Nines this year, six-year-old son Luke scored a prized
souvenir - the trademark headgear belonging to Penrith five-eighth
"We ordered gold tickets that got us seats by the players'
tunnel," recalls Fiso. "It was a great experience and we were
looking forward to going again next year."
But the veteran international will have an added incentive to
attend next January/February, now that the NZ national women's team
have been confirmed for a televised three-game nines series against
their Australian rivals as part of the 2015 event.
The women's game enjoyed centre-stage at the Auckland Nines draw
in Sydney today, with Fiso (32) and Jillaroos counterpart Maddie
Studdon assisting with the ceremony.
Health and fitness allowing, she is a fairly good bet to be out
in the middle of the Eden Park, doing battle with the Aussies.
"I never dreamed we would get this kind of opportunity,
especially as part of an NRL tournament, with so many of the game's
top players involved," she says.
"It's like a dream come true. When I heard, I was overcome with
excitement at the thought of playing in that packed stadium.
"We don't get too many chances to come together as a team for
international fixtures, so the girls will be preparing hard to make
sure we make the most of this one."
Despite their relatively low profile on the sporting landscape,
the Kiwi Ferns have put together a proud record, based largely on
their own hard work and initiative. Moving forward, those efforts
will be supported by the NZ Rugby League high performance
The Ferns won three World Cups from 2000-08 and only lost their
grip on that trophy when they fell to Australia in last year's
final at Leeds. Fiso has been a part of the last two campaigns,
after debuting for the team in 2006.
Those two sides will meet again in 13-a-side action on November
9, when they play a curtain-raiser to the Australia v Toa Samoa
Four nations clash in Wollongong, and inclusion in the Nines may be
a catalyst to regular trans-Tasman competition.
"Opportunities like these will really help us grow the women's
game in New Zealand," says Fiso. "Hopefully, we can inspire more
girls to take up the game and continue the tradition we've
Today's draw placed the hometown Vodafone Warriors in a
pool that also includes Wests Tigers, Canberra Raiders and Gold
Coast Titans, none of whom made the NRL playoffs this
A feature of the draw is the renaming of pools after
Auckland tourist landmarks - Rangitoto, Waiheke, Hunua &
The men's pools are:
Rangitoto - Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea
Eagles, Newcastle Knights & St George Illawarra
Waiheke - Melbourne Storm, North
Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers & South Sydney
Hunua - Wests Tigers, Vodafone Warriors,
Canberra Raiders & Gold Coast Titans
Piha - Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos,
Canterbury Bulldogs & Cronulla Sharks
The New Zealand Universities and Tertiary Students Rugby League
Council has named Kenny O'Brien as its new national team coach
until March 2015.
After a playing career that included English second division
side Huddersfield, along with Canterbury in the South Island,
O'Brien switched to coaching in 2003, steering Canterbury and
Wellington, along with Linwood, Petone and the Victoria University
O'Brien, who is currently assistant coach of the Wellington
Orcas, is also actively involved in the New Zealand Rugby League
high performance programme at 16s and 18s levels, and is also
assisting the Wellington Rugby League with their coaching and
NZUTSRL chairman Rodney Moore said O'Brien's selection into the
role was done through a robust and transparent process by the
council, including consultation with NZRL.
"We were very pleased with the calibre and quality of the
coaches who applied, and we are keen to work with the NZRL to offer
university and tertiary rugby league as a pathway for players,
coaches and team support staff.
"Our focus is to put a programme in place to take us through to
the next Student World Cup in 2017," Moore says. "Our first game
will be as the curtain-raiser to the Kiwis v Great Britain test in
Dunedin on November 8, when we take on the South Island.
"This seems somehow fitting, as the city is the spiritual home
of university rugby league in this country, due to having both the
first university club, which turns 60 years this year, and being
the first venue where an NZU side played in 1967."
Meanwhile, O'Brien (50) says he was excited at the opportunity
to coach the NZ University and Tertiary Students team.
"I am aware of the history of university rugby league in this
country and am aware that quite a bit of work will be done for me
to select a team from students throughout New Zealand."
Due to the tight time frame, O'Brien says he will rely on his
network of coaches from throughout the country to tell him who
would be worthy of making the squad from more than 50 player
"We are in camp just three days before the South Island match
and, like them, we will not have much time to build up to anything
fancy," he says. "
Instead, I will be looking to have a simple game plan, based
around the players that I will have available, which could include
10 that are still studying and who travelled to England last year
with the New Zealand Student World Cup side."
O'Brien's appointment will also take in the proposed New Zealand
Universities and Tertiary Student's national nines tournament in
late January 2015, which would be used to help identify players for
"We are looking to re-establish our links with alumni, and build
up a network of past university and tertiary people from around the
country who can contribute to what we believe will be an exciting
future ahead for us," he says.