Join Kiwis legends for lunch

16 April 2014

Here's a chance to rub shoulders with some some of the biggest legends of the game when a host of rugby league personalities gather to raise money for a great cause.

The Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust is hosting a fundraising luncheon for the League 4 Life foundation at the Ellerslie Events Centre on May 9.

There will be a mystery guest speaker and the MC is Knight of the Realm, Sir Peter Leitch. A number of past Kiwis players will be in attendance including Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki, Roger Bailey, Graeme West, Hugh McGahan, Dane O'Hara, Gary Clarke, Monty Betham, Gary Prohm, Jerry Seuseu, Duane Mann and Dean Bell.

Ex Kiwis coaches Bob Bailey, Graham Lowe, Brian McClennan will also be there.

A charity auction will take place and items going under the hammer include the boots worn by Benji Marshall in his last ever game for the Kiwis.

Whoever successfully bids for a signed Vodafone Warriors jersey will also get the chance to meet his or her favourite player.

Where: Guineas Room, Level 3,  Ellerslie Events Centre
When: May 9, 2014
From: 12pm
Tickets: $100pp

Buy a table (for ten) and receive two tickets to the Warriors v Raiders match at Eden Park on May 10, 2014.

Call 5713863 or (021) 532 483 to book  or email Phillippa Ivory at info@nzrl.co.nz

Click here for all the details of this fantastic event

Wellington to host Four Nations final

15 April 2014

Whangarei, Dunedin and Wellington have early opportunities to show they're ready for 2017 Rugby League World Cup fixtures, when they host games in this year's Four Nations tournament.

New Zealand Rugby League will stage three clashes in the international showpiece, including the final at Westpac Trust Stadium on November 15.

The NZ Kiwis face a Pacific Island team - either Fiji or Samoa - at Whangarei's Toll Stadium on November 1 and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on November 8.

They will kick off their campaign against archrivals Australia in Brisbane on October 25, as a curtainraiser to England taking on the Pacific champions.

"Bearing in mind we will be co-hosting the World Cup with Australia in four years, this is a great opportunity for us to show our capability," says NZRL chief executive Phil Holden. "But it's also a huge challenge, both on and off the field.

"On one front, we may be up against the other three semifinalists from last year's World Cup, with England, in particular, itching to avenge their semifinal loss to us at Wembley.

"And then we're looking for Wellingtonians to show their passion for rugby league and support what promises to be a memorable final.

"Auckland has already shown it's ready for major World Cup fixtures, after successfully hosting the NRL Nines. Wellington prides itself as a sporting Mecca and we're confident local fans can also support an international spectacle of this calibre."

Tickets will go on sale next month. Sign up to the NZRL database here to register for pre-sale information.

The full Four Nations schedule is:

October 25

Australia v New Zealand, Brisbane

England v Fiji/Samoa, Brisbane

November 1

New Zealand v Fiji/Samoa. Whangarei

November 2

Australia v England, Melbourne

November 8

New Zealand v England, Dunedin

November 9

Australia v Fiji/Samoa, Wollongong

November 15

Final, Wellington

Foran stands out in weekend's round

15 April 2014

With only three weeks until the Anzac Test in Sydney, NZ Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is encouraged by the performances of players in contention for team spots.

"For me, there were a few that stood out," he reflects on Round Six of the NRL.

Incumbent Kiwis five-eighth Kieran Foran (Kiwi #757) showed he's is rounding into form at just the right time to take on the Kangaroos, running for 117 metres in Manly's 24-4 romp over Cronulla Sharks.

"A couple of weeks ago, he had a game where he had been injured and came back to run for 150 metres, and was really good," says Kearney.

"He played really well again on the weekend, which is really positive from a New Zealand point of view."

Another making a strong bid for inclusion is veteran forward Adam Blair (Kiwi #732), who made 26 tackles in West Tigers' 16-4 upset of North Queensland Cowboys.

"With the way the Tigers are going at the moment, I've seen Adam playing football that first earned him a Kiwis jersey a few years ago," says Kearney.

And St George centre Gerard Beale was also impressive, clocking up 154 metres in the Dragons' heartbreaking 24-28 loss to Melbourne Storm after the final siren last night.

"Some of his defensive plays were really good," marvels Kearney.

But one player who seems unlikely to line up for the Kiwis on May 2 is Frank Pritchard (Kiwi #718), who missed last year's World Cup final through injury and tore a pectoral muscle (chest) in the Canterbury Bulldogs' 21-20 nailbiter over the NZ Warriors.

Let us know your favourite of the three and be in to win a prize from BLK. Click here for details.

Southern Zone enjoys continued growth

15 April 2014

NZRL Southern Zone chairman John Brimble reports on his zone's achievements during 2013...

It is gratifying, after three-and-a-half years of intensive work by the Southern Zone board and the general manager, to see the continual growth of the game within the South Island.

Since the inception of the Southern Zone, participation numbers have increased each year, with 2013 being no exception.

A 19.8% rise in population over the past year indicates that the game is not only capturing the imagination of the community, but is seen by those competing as a popular activity and pathway.

The fact that our strategies have result in a 50% increase in numbers involved in the game across all age grades is significant, and testimony to the hard work and dedication of all involved, from the zone board to the district governance, development officers, clubs and volunteers in a wide range of roles.

The consolidation of both Tasman and Otago, who had no league played in 2009, along with the continued growth of rugby league in Southland and the gradual re-emerging of Canterbury under new governance with revised procedures and strategies has seen the game strengthened in the South Island.

In particular, it is pleasing to see the major strides being made at school and junior level on the West Coast. The major challenge facing the Coast is retention of players at senior level.

One of the major strategic gains in 2013 has been the effort put into developing the game at junior level at both school and club.

New competitions have been created at primary school and club level, and in particular, at second school level, growing the base and providing for younger players through to representative level.

The number of schools participating in our skills development programmes has increased, with further opportunity to expand involvement throughout 2014.

This is an area that the South Island must concentrate and invest into all levels to ensure that, year by year, we retain those we have attracted to the game and attract new participants by providing them with a great experience and instil a love for the game.

We cannot maintain and extend our Impact and reach into the communities without the assistance and support of volunteers. They are the lifeblood of any sport.

In 2013, Southern Zone, working in partnership with the districts, up-skilled 238 volunteers through exposure to a variety of training opportunities.

This was a substantial increase on previous years, however more needs to be done in this area to attract and retain more and more volunteers.

Only by growing our base of volunteers, inclusive of coaches, administrators and officials, can we grow participation rates.

This is our challenge for 2014 and going forward - to consolidate what we have and to further build the base structure that can support the game.

I am indebted to my fellow board members for their support and commitment throughout the year, and especially acknowledge the work that is carried out by the Southern Zone general manager, Steve Martin, who devotes considerable energy, thought and perseverance to ensure that the annual goals set by the Southern Zone are not only achieved, but exceeded.

Steve is ably assisted in this by the team of regional development officers, who do an outstanding job and are the face of rugby league.

I also acknowledge and thank the work of the district chairs and their boards, along with those working, often unheralded, at club level to ensure that teams are fielded and that opportunities are provided for our communities to play and be involved in the "game".

Kiwis captain re-signs with Warriors

14 April 2014

Warriors and Kiwis captain Simon Mannering has underlined his commitment to the Auckland club by signing a new four-year contract to the end of the 2018 NRL season. Owner Eric Watson hailed Mannering's contract extension as critical.

"Simon's signing is a fantastic coup and a huge boost for the club," he said. "He is exceptional across the board as our record-holding captain, a player of the highest order and also a person of tremendous quality.

"I'm elated he is extending his career with us to what will be 14 seasons. Only a few in the game today can measure their dedication to one club in such terms."

The 27-year-old Mannering had attracted significant interest from other clubs.

"This is the biggest contract of my career because it could possibly be my last," he said.

"I love this club and always will. I'm keen to be a part of our future and have the greatest faith in the direction to the club is heading. We have much to offer this season and in years to come.

"It's not just about football, though. I also have my family to consider. That was a big part of the decision and I'm really happy it has all worked out."

Mannering, who made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old in 2005, lead the Warriors for the ninety-fourth time when they played the Bulldogs at Eden Park last Sunday April 13.

Now six games into his tenth season as an NRL player and his fifth as captain, his next win will be his fiftieth victory as captain, another first for a Warriors captain. He has a record of 49 wins and 45 losses so far while his predecessor Steve Price had a record of 42 wins and 47 losses with two draws.

As well as being set to become the club's first 100-game captain, he is also in line to become only the second player to play 200 games for the Vodafone Warriors.

He sits on 194 heading into round seven and is on track to hit 200 in the first home game at Mount Smart Stadium when the Warriors face Newcastle in June.