New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kia Toa Tiger, Josiah Mani (24) who unfortunately passed away due to a tragic accident on Saturday morning leaving behind his partner and many friends.

Mani helped win the region’s grand final last season for the Kia Toa Tigers. On Sunday, the Kia Toa Tigers team gathered at the Kensington Tavern to raise a glass, sing and release a single yellow balloon (team’s official colour) to honour the player.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family during this time.

A Give a Little page has been set up to assist with getting Josiah back home to PNG –https://givealittle.co.nz/cau…/josiah-mani-lets-get-you-home

It’s with great sadness that we announce, former New Zealand Secondary School and under-18 representative Zae Wallace, has passed away after being struck down with the flu.

The young sportsman who’s represented New Zealand at age group level returned to Auckland this year following a stint with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side and had been in an induced coma for four weeks.

At the beginning of the 2017 season, Wallace signed a contract with the Titans to play in the NYC under-20 competition. Wallace spent that season with the Titans then joined the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup.

Playing at halfback and being the youngest member of the squad, Wallace was one of the Akarana Falcons star performers in their National Premiership championship victory in 2016. That same year he was named Auckland Rugby League’s College Player of the Year.

He won selection following a standout season with the Mt Albert Lions in Auckland’s Fox Premier Rugby League Competition. He had returned to New Zealand to play with the Northcote Tigers and had only played one game when he became ill.

Wallace is described as a “lovely and cheeky” young man, who had a great sense of humour and a great bunch of friends. A givealittle page had been set up to raise funds in support of his courageous battle, one friend wrote, “Champions don’t stop, they dust themselves off and push on. This young man is all champion.”

Our deepest condolences go out to Zae’s family and friends, not only was he a rising league star with exciting skill and potential, he was loved by many. A young talent that will be sorely missed.

 

Photo – Photosport

As seen on nrl.com by Corey Rosser

 

The promise of a permanent spot in the halves was the key factor in Kodi Nikorima deciding to seek an immediate release from Brisbane and join the New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors announced the signing of Nikorima through until the end of 2021 on Friday, with the 25-year-old expected to debut for his new club against the Dragons during the NRL’s Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in round nine on Saturday.

Nikorima said the Broncos made it clear they saw teenager Thomas Dearden as their long-term halfback, at which point the positional security on offer at the Warriors became too good to turn down.

 

“[Brisbane] were pretty up front and honest in saying that Tom was probably their future half there,” Nikorima said.

“The Warriors came to me and said that they want me to play in the halves here … in the end it was the best decision for myself.

“At the end of the day it was just the fact that there’s a lot of security here, there’s a future for myself in a position that I want to play.

“The Broncos couldn’t offer me anything like that. I could have waited until the end of the year, but that contract that was on offer [from the Warriors] might not have become available then.

 

“I am grateful for the opportunity that [Brisbane] have given me [by releasing] me right now, and excited about the new journey and new chapter ahead.”

Nikorima said the Kiwi connection at the Warriors was also a crucial factor in his decision to sign with the Auckland-based club.

He was given his Test debut for the Kiwis by now Warriors coach Stephen Kearney in 2015, and he has strong relationships with a number of the squad through time together in camp with New Zealand.

“Knowing Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] and Issac Luke, who form part of the spine too will definitely help me in transferring from the Broncos into the Warriors’ system,” Nikorima said.

“And also having that relationship with Steve Kearney should help as well.

“That played a big part too. I have had a pretty good relationship with Mooks [Kearney], we have kept in touch over the years and I am really excited to play under him again.”

Nikorima also revealed he and future halves partner Blake Green had already held discussions about the roles they will play in the side, with Nikorima at pains to insist he wouldn’t be attempting to emulate Shaun Johnson’s style.

“I just spoke to Blake briefly before his game [against the Knights] and he sort of said that he wants me playing both sides and just playing off him, I guess playing more of that six role,” Nikorima said.

 

“Things aren’t going to click straight away … it might take time.

“I don’t really see it as replacing Shaun. What Shaun’s done here has been incredible and I don’t want to compare myself to him, nor will I compare myself to the past players like Stacey Jones.

“I have come here to be who I am. I’m Kodi Nikorima, I’m no one else and I won’t ever try and be anyone else.”

 

 

New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #373 Duncan MacRae who played three Tests for the Kiwis in 1956.

His contribution to New Zealand Rugby League will not be forgotten.

 

 

It was a trip down memory lane for Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith, and a once in a lifetime experience for 48 kids at the Waiheke Island Holiday Blast.

A Waiheke Rams junior, Smith has in recent years become a key part of the Melbourne Storm’s NRL side and a capped Kiwi international.

This week marked the first time the Auckland Rugby League has taken its school holiday programme to the island, and Smith said as soon as he found out it coincided with his visit to Waiheke, he was keen to be part of it.

“What stood out to me was the attendance, to see so many happy faces, it reminded me of when I was a junior,” Smith said.

“I loved being here at the rugby league club when I was younger, so just seeing the amount of kids with smiles on their faces, you can tell they are having a really good time.”

Smith spoke to the attendees and took part in activities with them, and believed the programme was a great way to grow rugby league.

“This is something that can help grow the sport moving forward on the island,” he said.

“I gave up my time because I really want to help rugby league grow here in New Zealand, not just on Waiheke, and I believe it starts from grassroots rugby league.”

Auckland Rugby League CEO Greg Whaiapu said it was great to see a local player giving back to his community.

“For Brandon to do this and spend his free time helping the next generation of Auckland footy players, speaks volumes about the person he is,” Whaiapu said.

“It’s always special to meet your sporting heroes, and even better when they come from the same club you are playing at.

“We are very grateful for Brandon’s time and effort – he’s left a bunch of kids with an experience they will never forget.”

The Manurewa Marlins made it back-to-back Farrelly Photos Women’s Premiership titles, after coming out on top in a thrilling Grand Final on Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium #2.

Up 20-14 with three minutes to go, Manurewa then leaked a try under the sticks and the game looked destined for extra time, only for the conversion in front to ping off the crossbar.

With first-choice kicker Alice Vailea nursing a leg injury picked up late in the game, Richmond fullback Shannon Muru was called up to attempt the kick, with the effort not having the required power, effectively handing Manurewa another title.

The win was a deserving reward for Manurewa at the end of a brilliant 2018 season, which saw them go undefeated.The Rusty Matua-coached Marlins had raced out to a 10-0 lead early against Richmond, thanks to four-pointers from Krystal Rota and Kararaina Wira-Kohu.

A quick play-the-ball from TJ Noble-Bell laid the platform for Rota’s effort, before Wira-Kohu rushed from five metres out to find a hole and crash over.

Richmond hit back on the half hour through Vailea, but when Louisa Gago wrapped around for a try in the middle of the park, which Kere Matua converted, Manurewa had a 16-4 to take to the break.

In the second half, tries to Lorina Papali’i and Johreena Sekene, one of which was converted by Vailea, cut the gap to 16-14, with both tries coming off kicks, the first from Shontelle Woodman and the second a pinpoint grubber from Vailea.

But when Manurewa’s Christyl Stowers executed a left-side shift to score with 12 minutes left, Richmond’s dream of a comeback appeared over.

Following long stoppages in play for a couple of injuries, Annetta Nuuausala powered over from close range to score a try which should have forced extra time, with a couple of centimetres on the ensuing conversion denying the central Aucklanders a shot at a memorable victory.

Earlier in the day the Ponsonby Ponies ran out convincing 54-18 winners over Mt Wellington in the second-tier Grand Final, with backrower Mele Toki starring with three tries.

Manurewa 20 (Krystal Rota, Kararaina Wira-Kohu, Louisa Gago, Christyl Stowers tries; Kere Matua 2 goals) Richmond 18 (Alice Vailea, Lorina Papali’i, Johreena Sekene, Annetta Nuuausala tries; Alice Vailea goal). At Mt Smart Stadium #2.

The battle lines have been drawn, with Auckland and the Tonga New Zealand Residents to clash in a representative blockbuster this Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Following on from Mate Ma’a Tonga’s stunning run at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, a sea of red will once again converge on Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, June 2, as both sides vie for the Upright Access Mann Cup (2.30pm kick-off).

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The Auckland Maori U20 will also meet the Toa Samoa Invitational U20 in a curtain-raiser to the main game, which kicks off at 12.30pm.