27 May 2022
The mighty Black and White is back.
To celebrate, NZRL is gifting the ultimate die-hard NZ fan + nine of their friends and whānau with a corporate table at the June 25th NZ v Tonga Test Double Header at Mt Smart Stadium.
Seem like a bit of you? Here’s how to enter:
Show us you’re the loudest and proudest New Zealand supporter there is.
Be as creative or detailed as you like; send us a video, photos or stories; we want to see it all.
How to enter:
Comment on our post who you’d take.
Post your entry or direct message us on NZRL socials – @nzrugbyleague (Insta) or @nzkiwis (FB).
Email your entry to [email protected]
The competition closes Thursday 9th June.
Celebrate the return of rugby league to Aotearoa in style with a prize valued at nearly $3000.
Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns fans, show us you’re the loudest and proudest there is. It’s been too long, we’ve missed you.
April 28 2022
After over two years without Test match rugby league, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce, the international game is finally returning home.
Saturday 25 June will see Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium play host as the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns line up against Pacific rivals Tonga in a blockbuster double-header worthy of the wait.
The rugby league spectacle coincides with Matariki – the Māori New Year, falling on the inaugural public holiday weekend. The long-awaited international clashes will celebrate the return home to Aotearoa and the re-uniting of players with their New Zealand fans and communities.
Fourteen years have passed since the Kiwi Ferns faced Tonga women, where they earned a 40 point victory at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Both nations will now meet again off the back of 2020 victories; the rookie lead Kiwi Ferns earned a 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa, while Tonga women had a dominant 66-8 performance over Niue.
As both teams take the field come June 25, NZRL aims to achieve a new world record crowd attendance for a women’s rugby league match, which currently sits at 18,000.
Pre pandemic, the No.1 ranked Kiwis were hot off a series win against Great Britain and a 34-14 victory against their Tongan rivals in 2019. Despite their loss to the Kiwis, Tonga achieved a historic 16-12 upset over the Kangaroos in the same year.
After a two year hiatus, Saturday 25 June will see the return of arguably the biggest rivalry in international rugby league, as both nations will look to assert their dominance ahead of the October Rugby League World Cup.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this has been a long time coming.
“What a great feeling to finally have our Ferns and Kiwis back on the park, and even better at home. To celebrate Matariki weekend with an international Test double header that unites our fans and communities in celebration is special.”
Peters adds, “We have been working with the NRL for some time now to produce an international weekend on both sides of the Tasman during the origin window. June 25 will also see Samoa play Cook Islands and PNG face Fiji in Campbelltown before Ampol State of Origin the following day.
“We encourage everyone to make their way to Mt Smart come June 25 to break the crowd attendance record for a women’s Test and celebrate the return of international rugby league to New Zealand shores after some challenging years.”
Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf says, “We are excited about the opportunity to represent the proud nation of Tonga for the first time since the successful campaign against Australia and Great Britain back in 2019.
“This opportunity has been a long time coming, so we can’t wait to face the Kiwis again. This will be an important match for us as we look to reunite the team and also give some of our young players a chance to represent their country ahead of the World Cup,” Woolf concludes.
Hon. Poasi Mataele Tei, Acting Prime Minister of Tonga, says, “This is very exciting news for Tonga, and we welcome the opportunity with open hearts. It has been a tough ride for all Tongans around the world, especially the last three months, but this match between New Zealand and Tonga will certainly uplift Tongan spirits as we look forward to another successful World Cup campaign in England.”
Auckland Unlimited Head of Major Events, Chris Simpson, says the excitement’s building in Tāmaki Makaurau for what will be a fantastic event.
“Aucklanders are avid rugby league supporters, and to have New Zealand and Tonga play at Mt Smart will be exhilarating,” says Simpson.
“We encourage league fans from across New Zealand to make Mt Smart and Tāmaki Makaurau their destinations of choice this Matariki long weekend – it’s going to be huge!”
International Rugby League Chair Troy Grant says, “It is great to see international rugby league back on the menu in the Southern Hemisphere, and what a blockbuster to go with. I think the whole world is waiting to see clashes such as the Kiwis against Tonga as it’s the appetiser for what is to come at the World Cup and then on a regular basis from 2023 onwards.”
Te Hokinga Mai | Toe Foki Mai
Saturday, 25 June Mt Smart Stadium Auckland
3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga
5:20pm NZT Kiwis v Tonga
LIVE on Sky Sport 4 and Channel 9 for Australian viewers.
Tickets on sale Tuesday from Ticketmaster, NZRL to release ticket link in the coming days.
February 9, 2022
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce key partner and principal sponsor of the Kiwis, Pirtek, has extended its partnership with NZRL for another four years.
A market leader in the provision of on-site hydraulic and industrial hose and fitting products and services, Pirtek’s partnership with NZRL is set to span well over a decade, with Pirtek being one of the most recognisable supporters of rugby league across the Tasman.
This extension means Pirtek will have been principal sponsors of the Kiwis through five World Cup tournaments, including this year’s rescheduled World Cup in England and the 2025 France Rugby League World Cup.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this partnership extension is a special milestone.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been no international rugby league for over two years, yet Pirtek’s support for our Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns has never wavered.
“Despite Covid disrupted seasons, Pirtek’s franchise network has provided invaluable support for our grassroots and inaugural women’s and 20’s competitions, coupled with the involvement in our community activations across the country to encourage more tamariki to get involved in rugby league.
“Our partnership is special. The entire team at Pirtek have been loyal members of our NZRL whānau for well over a decade. They have been front and centre of our greatest international achievements and have shown invaluable support throughout our more challenging times,” Peters adds.
“I look forward to the team at Pirtek remaining integral members of the NZRL whānau as we enter an exciting new era of rugby league.”
Chris Bourke, CEO Pirtek, says, “Once again our national Pirtek team is excited about our re-signing as Principal Sponsor of NZRL. We, like all Rugby League fans, are looking forward to the return of international matches in 2022 and beyond.
Although the past couple of years have been a challenge for all concerned we have worked closely with NZRL and their team to provide appropriate support where practical.
Sponsorships and partnerships like ours involve loyalty, just like we appreciate from our long term customers throughout New Zealand.
We all look forward to working closely with NZRL over the next term of our partnership”.
14 December 2021
Despite another Covid riddled year, this has not deterred the passion of our rugby league communities across the motu. A plethora of talent and staff committed their best towards the game as NZRL is pleased to announce the 2021 NZRL Grassroots Awards.
The Grassroots Rugby League Club of the Year Award for 2021 was highly contested. NZRL would like to recognise runner up clubs; Turangawaewae, Bell Block Marist, Whiti Te Ra and the Timaru Outlaws. Each club has significantly contributed to the growth of the game and its opportunities in their respective regions.
The Otara Scorpion’s dedication and commitment both on and off the field saw them awarded the prestigious Grassroots Club of the Year Award for 2021.
Situated in the heart of South Auckland, the Otara Scorpions have done incredible mahi to cater towards its staff, players and community. As a club, they managed to open new clubrooms, start a Junior Academy development programme and most notably, organise several high-profile drive-thru vaccination events that saw thousands of their community members rally together to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
CEO of NZRL Greg Peters says, “In what was another testing year, Otara RL Club put the needs of their communities above all else, epitomising our More Than A Game and Kiwi Way philosophies. Thank you to all involved in the club for their important mahi; they’ve had a widespread and positive impact on the wellbeing of our communities.”
The Men’s National Competition Player of the Year was awarded to Upper Central Zone’s Tony Matautia. Matautia’s Stallions side came away with the National trophy after his scintillating hat-trick in the final, earning him Player of the Match.
After a stellar season with Canterbury, Kiwi Fern #144 Charntay Poko was named the National Women’s Competition Player of the Year. Poko brought her international professionalism and leadership, guiding her Canterbury side to a Sky Sport Women’s championship victory.
The NZRL 16s Youth Competition Player of the Year went to Mid-Central’s Kylem Vunipola. Described by his coaching staff as ‘effective, well-mannered and considerate,’ Vunipola starred both on and off the field, making the fullback spot his own each week.
Tome Poona of Upper-Central Zone took out this year’s NZRL 18s Youth Competition Player of the Year. The NZRL School’s representative captained his side to a grand final success earning the Player of the Final accolade. Poona showed exceptional leadership in a difficult, Covid interrupted season.
The National 20s Player of the Year went to competition MVP Zyon Maiu’u. The Kelston Boys product led his undefeated Auckland Blue side right to the grand final, where they were unable to overcome an inspired Central Districts outfit.
After that fairy-tale run to the trophy, Central Districts Head Coach Daniel McEwan received the National 20’s Coach of the Year Award.
Upper Central Head Coach Jeremy Siulepa took home National Coach of the Year, and Mid-Central Vipers 16s Head Coach Shaun Egan was awarded the National Youth Coach of the Year. Both coaches successfully led their sides to competition titles throughout several regional lockdowns.
Paki Parkinson took home Match Official of the Year for the second year running after refereeing the National Competition Final.
The 2021 Pirtek Volunteer of the Year was awarded to July winner Raymond Greaves.
Four years ago, Raymond began volunteering for Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL); he brings passion and vitality at every opportunity, investing hours into creating, planning, and executing disability-specific programmes for PDRL players.
Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented, “Although he has only been a volunteer for the past four years, Raymond provides a truly positive experience for Physical Disability Rugby League and the people involved. Raymond is now Head Coach and exemplifies the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way, being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful and humble.” NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “These awards recognise exceptional work in our grassroots, domestic and community space both on and off the field. We congratulate each recipient on their outstanding achievement.
“Thank you to those in our rugby league communities who continue to go above and beyond for our game. In what was another challenging year, it’s the dedication of our people that keep rugby league thriving – thank you.”
2021 Grassroots Community Award Winners
Club of the Year – Otara Rugby League Club (Counties Manukau)
Men’s Competition Player of the Year – Tony Matautia (Upper Central Zone)
Women’s Competition Player of the Year – Charntay Poko (Canterbury)
16’s Youth Competition Player of the Year – Kylem Vunipola (Mid-Central Zone)
18’s Youth Competition Player of the Year – Tome Poona (Upper Central-Zone)
20’s Player of the Year – Zyon Maiu’u (Auckland)
20’s Coach of the Year – Daniel McEwan (Central Districts)
Youth Competition Coach of the Year – Shaun Egan (Mid Central Zone)
National Competition Coach of the Year – Jeremy Siulepa (Upper Central Zone)
Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson
Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Raymond Greaves (Physical Disability Rugby League)
Jahrome Hughes (Kiwi #819) has been named the 2021 Kiwis Player of the Year, Isaiah Papali’i (Kiwi #817) took home Young Kiwi Player of the Year, while James Fisher-Harris (Kiwi #801) was awarded the inaugural NZRL People’s Choice Award.
Hughes was a standout for Melbourne, who won a record-tying 19 games in a row thanks to the Kiwi’s leadership and consistency in the halves. Hughes ended the 2021 NRL season with nine tries, 19 try assists and 13 line-break assists, cementing his status as one of the competition’s premier players.
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says the Player of the Year award was no easy decision.
“Kiwi boys across the competition have led their teams to new heights in 2021; the likes of Fisher-Harris, Brandon Smith, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and Joey Manu were all standouts for their clubs. However, Jahrome’s growth into a leader at the Storm saw him deserving of this year’s accolade.
“Jahrome’s consistency in the spine was evident; he led his team to a record win streak and saw them through to the semi-final. His improvement over the last couple of years has been exceptional, and his game management and kicking game reached a new level in 2021.
“He has solidified himself as one of the game’s best halves and is well-deserving of the Kiwis Player of the Year title,” Maguire concludes.
Isaiah Papali’i (Kiwi #817) was awarded the 2021 Young Kiwi Player of the Year after his breakout season with Parramatta, making 109 tackle breaks and 809 tackles for the year. The young Kiwi’s trophy cabinet for 2021 also includes the VB Hardest Working Player of the Year and Dally M Back Rower of the Year.
Head Coach Maguire says, “From the first time I had Isaiah in the Kiwis squad, to now, he’s grown into one of the game’s most dangerous back-rowers.
“His performance this year stood out; he really stepped up at Paramatta, and he’s well-deserving of the accolades he’s received in 2021.”
Maguire adds, “What’s exciting about his growth is that Isaiah is still young, he’s got years of footy left in him, and he’s well on track to being one of New Zealand’s best players.”
This year, NZRL also introduced the inaugural People’s Choice Award, where fans had the chance to vote for their best Kiwi player of the 2021 season.
It was a tight race to the finish between Hughes, Smith and Fisher-Harris, but a late surge by voters saw the Penrith stalwart, James Fisher-Harris take home the title.
Fisher-Harris had arguably his best season, earning 154 metres a game, averaging 100 post-contact metres in the lead up to his maiden NRL Premiership and second Dally M Prop of the Year accolade.
Head Coach Maguire says, “I know how competitive these awards are, so there’s no surprise it was a tight race to the finish. James is extremely deserving of this; he had an exceptional season, he’s the best prop in the game and an asset to our Kiwis squad.”
Maguire adds, “This year, we have watched many Kiwi players play their best seasons. The depth we are seeing, plus the calibre of football on display is exciting. I’m looking forward to a busy 2022 International season and seeing these boys come together for their country once again.”
11 November 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce that the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership will take place from the 26th March, with the final set for the 16th April ahead of the mid-year Kiwi Ferns Test and again in October as part of the wider 2022 National Competition.
This year, the Women’s Premiership and Championship were amalgamated into a singular Women’s National Competiton without the Auckland teams due to Covid-19 restrictions.
2022 will see the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership coincide with the rescheduled NRLW in March, allowing players unable to relocate to Australia the opportunity to bid for a place in the Kiwi Ferns squad.
Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says, “It’s really exciting for our girls to have an opportunity early in the year and then again come October, not only for Kiwi Ferns prospects but all women involved in our game.
“Having an enriched calendar, especially after this Covid riddled year, means women and girls across the country will further develop, grow and strengthen their skillsets due to the increased playing opportunities we can provide.
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their above and beyond support of our women’s game and commitment to its growth across the country,” Avaiki concludes.
2022 will also see NZRL introduce a series of inaugural tournaments for the 16s to 18s Girls age group, including the District 9s Tournament (February – April), NZRL Secondary Schools Girl’s Tournament (August) and NZRL Girl’s Youth Tournament (October).
GM of Football and High-Performance, Motu Tony, says, “It’s great to be able to showcase a women’s rugby league calendar that reflects the growth our female game continues to experience.
“Female participation has nearly tripled since 2016, and youth participation for girls has increased 14%.
“Being able to offer a District 9s competition, Youth Tournament and Secondary School Tournament for young female players is a huge milestone that will only see this space further accelerate with momentum.
“These tournaments will enable us to field NZ Girl’s representative teams and provide an opportunity for our future NRLW and Kiwi Ferns players to excel in the game.
“Next year will be the biggest year yet for our women’s game, and we have every reason to be excited.”
14 October 2021
Our oldest living Kiwi #341, 98-year-old Raymond James Cranch, 1951-52 Kiwis tourist, former Auckland prop/second-rower and one of rugby league’s most beloved figures has sadly passed away.
Cranch, 98, was New Zealand’s oldest surviving Kiwi. And by virtually every account of anyone who knows the genial stalwart, he’d be a guaranteed starter in a hypothetical grand final of the game’s friendliest people.
Cutting his teeth in rugby league with the Parnell-based Akarana club as a 13-year-old in 1936, Cranch joined Mt Albert the following season and became one of that club’s greatest servants.
Cranch went on to serve in WWII, training in Maadi in Egypt and fighting in Montecassino in Italy. He received a Year of the Veteran Certificate of Appreciation for his Service given to New Zealand during World War II by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister Helen Clark.
On his return, Ray helped Mt Albert to Fox Memorial success in 1947 and scored a try against NSWRL grand final winners Balmain in an ‘Australasian’ showdown of club champions.
Cranch became an Auckland representative regular (and captain in 1950), starring in the province’s 1948 win over the Kiwis, who had just returned from a gruelling tour of Britain and France. Three years later, he received the opportunity to make a Northern Hemisphere trip of his own, selected in the 1951-52 Kiwis squad.
The presence of indomitable front-row pairing Cliff Johnson and Bill McLennan, crack second-row duo Frank Mulcare and Charlie McBride, and outstanding Canterbury lock Alistair Atkinson kept Cranch out of the Test side – with the quintet playing all five internationals against Great Britain and France – but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless.
“They were just coming off wartime food rationing, and there was not much good meat around,” Cranch told revered New Zealand journalist, author and historian John Coffey.
“Only the team that was playing the next game got the good stuff. The midweek players, the ‘ham and eggers’, got the rest. We played the continuous tackle rule, and the English teams would keep the ball for 10, even 20, minutes.”
Mediocre nourishment and dour football notwithstanding, the tour produced the customary off-field shenanigans for Cranch and his teammates.
“I remember Cyril Eastlake and Andy Berryman, with napkins on their heads, doing their doctor and nurse act performing surgery on a banana. It was hilarious,” Cranch recalled.
“Over in France, we were travelling down a long narrow road with poplar trees on both sides when (co-manager) Dave Wilkie popped up and asked, ‘Where’s Henry’ (Des White)? He was missing. We had to go another five miles before we could turn the old bus around.
“Going back the other way, we met up with a taxi and Whitey hopped out. He had slept in. When he went down to the hotel reception the girl said, ‘Kiwis are gone’. Des didn’t know any French but he managed to get a taxi and set off after us.”
An elbow injury suffered during the French leg cut Cranch’s tour short and provided him with ongoing problems, but he played on until 1954 before hanging up the boots.
Cranch could then begin the next and most enduring chapter of his rugby league story, moving into administration. He was made chairman of the Auckland Schoolboys Rugby League board of control in 1960 and managed the first New Zealand Schoolboys team on their tour of Australia four years later. Roles with the ARL senior board of control and as manager of the 1973 New Zealand Colts, again touring Australia, followed for the ever-popular Cranch.
“Mt Albert said they would like to nominate me for the Auckland schoolboy board of control. I felt I should put something back into the game, and that’s where it all started,” he said modestly.
An Aucklander and Kiwi through and through, Cranch’s genial nature meant that he wasn’t averse to helping out the ‘enemy’ on the odd occasion.
When the great Australian forward Dick Thornett appeared for Auckland as a guest player in a match against New Zealand in 1969 to mark the NZRL’s diamond jubilee, his boots were ruined after leaving them in the Carlaw Park boiler room to dry.
Requiring size 13 boots, Thornett was in a jam until Cranch, who worked in the footwear industry, came to the rescue with a new pair.
Cranch’s selflessness and enthusiasm to take on roles with rugby league is legendary.
Secretary-manager for the Auckland Leagues Club for more than 20 years, Cranch later served as president and was made a life member. He was a long-serving selector and manager of Auckland teams, filled gaps on judicial committees and worked with referees.
Away from his first sporting love, Cranch also played softball and was involved with the Piha Surf Life Saving Club.
An Auckland Rugby League life member, Cranch received his NZRL life membership in 2003 and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Ray Cranch will forever live on as one of rugby league’s most admirable servants, a proud Kiwi and a selfless hero, who, if you ever had the privilege of meeting, would have made an everlasting and memorable impact.
May you rest in peace Ray, thank you for your years of love and service to our great game.
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.” Ray Cranch, 2021
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.”
07 October 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup Wider Squad.
Despite the absence of international football over the last two years, 2022 will be the busiest international calendar in recent time, as NZRL work towards a June Pacific Test and Trans-Tasman clash, all before the October 2022 World Cup campaign.
After his impressive club season, Premiership-winning Panther and Dally M Prop of the Year, James Fisher-Harris unsurprisingly made the list, as did Dally M Backrower of the Year and Eels’ golden buy, Isaiah Papali’i. Papali’i is joined by fellow Parramatta playmakers Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.
Star Rooster’s centre Joey Manu had one of his best seasons with 12 line breaks, ten tries and 141 metres per game. He joins veteran Kiwi prop and Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who made 1280 post-contact metres in 23 appearances for 2021.
Melbourne’s Reimis Smith locked in his selection with 14 tries this year, as he joins a plethora of Kiwi Storm talent, including standout half Jahrome Hughes, who was instrumental in a well-oiled Melbourne side that ran rampant throughout 2021.
Corey Harawira-Naera returns after a dominant performance in his first full season at Canberra, and departing Shark Shaun Johnson is joined by Cronulla teammates Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Briton Nikora.
Fresh names to join the frame include Bronco’s back-rower and former Junior Kiwis captain Jordan Riki, who enters the squad after a solid debut season. Titan’s Hooker and former Manurewa Marlin Erin Clark gets the call up alongside dynamic youngster Josh Schuster and Waikato born Morgan Harper after a breakthrough seasons with Manly.
“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team”, says Head Coach Michael Maguire.
“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”
The 2021 season saw many Kiwi eligible players stamp their mark on the NRL, encouraging selectors to name a ‘Notable Players’ list that Head Coach Maguire has deemed “the future of the Kiwis team.”
“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team,” says Maguire.
“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.
“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”
06 October 2021
Fighting through tears, an emotional Benji Marshall has called time on one of the most memorable careers of the modern era.
After 346 NRL games (the most of any Kiwi), 19 seasons, 31 Tests for New Zealand, four clubs, five shoulder reconstructions, a couple of last hurrahs, one title and a famous flick pass that spoke to hundreds of equally audacious plays, Marshall is officially done – morphing him from a teen pin-up to elder statesman.
The 36-year-old confirmed his retirement on Wednesday afternoon on the Gold Coast, 10 minutes from the Keebra Park High School stomping ground where those twinkling toes first came to rugby league’s attention.
“I feel privileged and honoured with what the game has given me and the life it has given me. I want to thank the NRL for letting me be part of this great game,” he said.
“I would’ve been retired seven years ago if it wasn’t for Wayne giving me the opportunity at Brisbane.
“I started as just a young kid from Whakatane who was chasing his dreams and will leave as a better man who reached those dreams. I cannot thank rugby league enough for everything it has given me.
“I am extremely proud of my career. I’m proud of the longevity of playing 19 seasons, proud of winning a premiership, proud to represent my country and to win a World Cup, and I’m proud of winning a Golden Boot too.
“But the thing of which I’m most proud is the countless times I have had to pick myself up and fight back from the many setbacks that were thrown at me throughout my career.”
A unique attacking talent whose arrival electrified the NRL and international scenes, Benji Marshall spearheaded some of New Zealand’s greatest Test triumphs from five-eighth and enjoyed a four-season stint as skipper.
Marshall later broke the Kiwis record for most Tests as captain (21) and equalled the mark for the longest Test career span (15 seasons) after memorably ending a seven-year hiatus from the national side in 2019.
The Whakatane-born touch rugby prodigy took up a rugby league scholarship with Keebra Park State High at the age 16 after starring in an impromptu trial appearance while on a school excursion to the Gold Coast.
The sliding doors opportunity would have an enormous impact on the code on both sides of the Tasman. An 18-year-old Marshall represented Australian Schoolboys and made his NRL debut for Wests Tigers – who were linked to Keebra Park – in 2003.
Marshall’s mesmerising footwork, speed and instinctive ball-playing caught the public’s imagination from the outset, but a shoulder injury cut his 2004 season short after just seven first-grade appearances.
But everything came together in 2005. After a sizzling start to the year with the Tigers – and still with only 15 NRL games under his belt – Marshall was called up to New Zealand’s Anzac Test squad. The 20-year-old’s eye-catching display was hailed as the biggest positive of the Kiwis’ 32-16 loss in Brisbane.
Marshall then set about compiling an astonishing highlights package in steering the unheralded Tigers to their first finals series and an unlikely premiership triumph. The hot-stepping No.6 scored 15 tries in 27 games, while he produced one of the most iconic moments in grand final history in the 32-16 defeat of North Queensland with a long break and an audacious flick pass to set up Pat Richards’ try.
Shoulder surgery ruled Marshall out of the Kiwis’ victorious Tri-Nations tour at the end of ’05, but he was selected on the bench for the 2006 Anzac Test despite a fractured cheekbone and dislocated shoulder disrupting the start of his NRL season. Genuine concerns emerged about Marshall’s future, though, after ongoing shoulder problems ended his 2006 campaign in June and caused him to miss half of 2007. He was unavailable for New Zealand’s end-of-year international series in both years.
The Kiwis boasted two of rugby league’s most dynamic young superstars in Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams but ultimately the pair lined up together just twice – in the 2006-07 Anzac Tests, with Marshall featuring at five-eighth in the latter. He was again absent for the 2008 Centenary Test against Australia at the SCG through injury but recovered to play in the Tigers’ last 16 games of the season.
Marshall scored two tries in a World Cup warm-up Test against Tonga and started all five of the Kiwis’ matches at the Australia-hosted tournament. He scored a match-sealing try in the 32-22 semi-final victory over England, before playing a leading hand in the 34-20 boilover against the Kangaroos in the Brisbane final. Marshall’s burst and offload set up a fortuitous first-half try for Jerome Ropati, he was on hand to scoop up Australian fullback Billy Slater’s errant pass and score a pivotal four-pointer after the break, his bomb led to Adam Blair’s late clincher and he booted two goals.
The Kiwis installed Marshall as their new captain in 2009. The early-season loss to Australia in Brisbane was to be the first of 18 straight appearances as Test skipper, leading New Zealand on its Four Nations tour of England and France at the end of the year.
Fourth in the 2010 Dally M Medal count as the Tigers returned to the playoffs for the first time since their grand final success, Marshall subsequently enjoyed arguably his finest hour on the international stage. He scored a try and kicked four goals in the Four Nations-opening win over England in Wellington, booted another eight goals in a heavy defeat of Papua New Guinea in Rotorua and brilliantly set up two tries in a late comeback as well as slotting four goals in a loss to Australia at Eden Park.
But Marshall almost singlehandedly lifted his side to a 16-12 triumph over the Kangaroos in the final as the Kiwis again reigned at Suncorp Stadium. He put Shaun Kenny-Dowall over for New Zealand’s only try of the first half, cut the deficit to two points via a breath-taking grubber for Jason Nightingale to score, and produced two magnificent touches in the extraordinary 65-metre match-winner finished off by Nathan Fien in the 79th minute. Marshall capped a banner year by becoming just the third New Zealander to win the Golden Boot award.
Marshall was named Dally M Five-eighth of the Year in 2011, took out his second RLIF Five-eighth of the Year honour (a gong he also collected in 2009) and was named the Kiwis’ Player of the Year, but five Tests garnered just one win – against Wales during the Four Nations. He led the Kiwis in both matches of a minimised 2012 schedule: Tests losses to Australia in April and October by eight-point margins.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney announced in February 2013 that Marshall would no longer be captain, while an injury ruled him out of contention for the Canberra clash with the Kangaroos two months later – ending a run of 24 straight Tests. Meanwhile, his relationship with Wests Tigers unravelled and he sought a release to join the Blues Super Rugby franchise. It was a sad conclusion to a decade-long tenure with the Tigers that saw him become the first player to bring up 1,000 points and the third to make 200 appearances for the joint venture. The code switch also quashed any prospect of Marshall being picked in New Zealand’s RLWC squad.
The 29-year-old was back in the NRL with St George Illawarra by May 2014. He finished equal-second in the Dally M Medal count as the Dragons reached the finals in 2015.
After an impressive season as a back-up half/utility under Wayne Bennett at the Broncos in 2017, Marshall accepted a deal to return to the Tigers. He had lost a yard or two of pace and the mind-blowing attacking wizardry was less frequent, but the veteran’s calm leadership and direction was invaluable for a rebuilding club.
Unlucky not to get a call-up in 2018, the 34-year-old was named by Tigers and Kiwis coach Michael Maguire for the 2019 mid-season Test against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium. Marshall’s outpouring of emotion during the New Zealand national anthem was the indelible memory of the match, but he was also a strong performer at halfback in the 34-14 win.
Marshall – who also became just the fourth New Zealander to play over 300 NRL games during 2019 – rounded off a remarkable renaissance by being named Kiwis captain at the end of the season for the Tests against Australia and Great Britain. The third-oldest Kiwis player in history, he broke Gary Freeman’s record for most Tests as New Zealand skipper and equalled Kurt Sorensen (1975-89) for the longest Test career span.
Date of Birth: 25 February 1985Place of Birth: Whakatane, NZPosition: Five-eighth/HalfbackHeight: 183cmWeight: 92kgJunior Club: Keebra ParkClubs: Rabbitohs (2021); Tigers (2003-13, 2018-20); Broncos (2017); Dragons (2014-16); Auckland Blues RU (2014)NRL Games: 346 (22 for the Rabbitohs, 257 for the Tigers, 54 for the Dragons and 13 for the Broncos. Also played six Super Rugby matches for Auckland Blues RU)NRL Points: 1232 (from 12 points for the Rabbitohs [three tries], 1181 points for Tigers [84 tries, 416 goals, 13 field goals], 35 points for Dragons [eight tries and three field goals] and four points for Broncos [from one try]. Also scored ten points for Auckland Blues RU from one try, one conversion and one penalty goal)NRL Debut: Tigers vs Knights, Campbelltown Stadium, 27 July 2003 (Rd 20)
NRL Premierships: One (2005 – Tigers)Rep Honours: 31 Tests for New Zealand (2005-19); World Cup (2008-champions); Four Nations (2009-11); four games for NRL All Stars (2010-13); one game for Maori All Stars (2021)Awards and Honours: 21 Tests as New Zealand captain (2009-19); NRL most capped New Zealand-born player of all-time (346 games); Golden Boot (2010); Dally M Five-eighth of the Year (2011); RLIF Five-eighth of the Year (2009, 2011); Inducted as a Life Member of Wests Tigers (2013); Wests Tigers player #70; Brisbane Broncos player #226; St George Illawarra Dragons player #181; South Sydney Rabbitohs player #1167; New Zealand Kiwis player #717
27 September 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the National Youth Tournament returns for 2021, albeit in a revised weekly competition format to cater to Covid gathering restrictions.
The 2021 National Youth Competition will take place over three weekends instead of its usual one-week tournament format, kicking off this Saturday, 2nd October.
Despite pandemic setbacks, the best of New Zealand’s rangatahi talent will be on display as Zones battle it out for the highly contested 16s and 18s age group titles.
Both 16s and 18s competitions for this year will comprise of two pools:
Pool A – South Island Scorpions, Wellington Orcas, Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions and Northern Swords.
Pool B – Counties Manukau, Akarana Falcons and Auckland Vulcans.
Pool A will kick off this Saturday 2nd October, while Pool B can only begin once Auckland is in Level 2, subject to the October 4 announcement.
The 2021 Youth Competition Final will see the top of Pool A take on top of Pool B, in both 16 and 18 age groups, on Saturday, October 30.
Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL says, “We were close to having to go two years without the Youth Competition due to Covid disruptions, but to see it ready to kick off in 2021, albeit a new format, is a great accomplishment.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for these age group players, as it can be a steppingstone to NZ representative teams, our 20s competition and potential professional pathways. The high number of Kiwi NRL debutants this NRL season who have played in our national tournaments and representative teams has been pleasing. This shows how important it is to hold our national tournaments as it provides our rangatahi with opportunities that can positively impact their lives on and off the field.”
Tony adds, “Thank you to the Zones, Districts and all NZRL staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the Youth Competition was possible. I’m looking forward to seeing the calibre of our young talent on display come October.”
Over the past ten years, the NZRL Youth Tournament has been home to some of the biggest NRL and Kiwi names such as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Fisher-Harris, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Dylan Brown and many more.
NZRL will release the full National Youth Competition draws early this week.
No crowds are permitted at National Youth Competition games while at Alert Level 2.
24 September 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the 2021 National Competition will kick off this weekend, albeit in a revised format.
This year’s National Competition amalgamates both Premiership and Championship divisions into a singular competition consisting of regional pools.
The regional pool format means teams outside of Auckland can begin playing this weekend, while Auckland teams can join when Covid levels allow, without disrupting the flow of the competition.
The 2021 Men’s National Competition consists of three regional pools:
Monday, October 4, the government is set to make a decision on Auckland’s Alert Level. If Level 3 is extended, the Northland / Auckland pool will not compete in this year’s National Competition.
Saturday 30 October will see 1st Men’s Central take on 1st Men’s South Island and 2nd Men’s Central take on 2nd Men’s South Island. If the Northern pool cannot compete, this will be the Men’s National Competition final and runner up match.
If the Northern pool can compete due to a successful Alert Level change on October 4, the winner of the 1st Central v 1st South Island final will go on to play 1st place in the Northern pool on Sunday, November 7, to which the winner will be crowned National Men’s Champions.
The 2021 Sky Sport Women’s National Competition follows a similar format where both Premiership and Championship divisions have been amalgamated to form a singular competition consisting of two regional pools.
The Central pool will kick off next Saturday, October 2, while the Northland pool will kick off Sunday, October 17, subject to Auckland successfully moving down Alert Levels, post-October 4 announcement.
The Sky Sport Women’s National Competition Final will take place before the National Men’s Final on Sunday, November 7.
If the Northern pool cannot compete due to an extended Level 3, the Women’s National Competition Final will see 1st play 2nd of the Central pool. If Northern can partake, the final will see top of the Central pool take on top of the Northern pool, to which the winner will be crowned Women’s National Champions.
NZRL is also exploring the possibility of running the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in Q1 of 2022 if the Northern pool cannot compete this year.
Motu Tony, GM of Football and High Performance at NZRL, says, “Despite the disruptions the pandemic has brought, for the second year in a row, it’s exciting we can present a 2021 National Competition.”
“Thank you to Sky Sport for their continuous support of our game, as well as all our Zones and Districts who have been understanding of the task at hand. Restructuring the National Competition is no easy feat, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without everyone’s input and co-operation.”
“We look forward to seeing players take the field for their regions after disrupted seasons across the country, and fingers crossed Auckland can join down the line”, he adds.
“We encourage everyone to continue to follow health and safety protocol and thank all of our communities for their ongoing patience and understanding during these times.”
The South Island Men’s pool kicks off this weekend when the West Coast Chargers take on the Southland Rams, Saturday 25th September, 2:30 pm at Wingham Park, Greymouth.
The Central Men’s and Women’s pools kick off next Saturday, October 2, with a doubleheader at Davies Park, Huntly. Waikato Men will take on the Wellington Orcas, following the Upper Central Zone Women v Wellington Women.
Not all National Competition games will be televised live on Sky Sport; NZRL will provide further information on where and how to watch each game when the complete draws are released early next week.
Northland has decided not to compete in this year’s 2021 National Competition, however, we look forward to seeing them return in 2022.
No crowds are permitted at any Men’s or Women’s National Competition games under Alert Level 2.
21 September 2021
Kiwi #749, Issac Luke is saying goodbye to rugby league after 43 tests, 5 tries and 22 goals for his country, including one historic 08 World Cup and two Four Nations triumphs, forever cementing him a New Zealand Rugby League great.
“My dream was to always be a Kiwis player. The All Blacks are the pinnacle in New Zealand as it was always rugby throughout school, but I was told I couldn’t play 1st XV because I played too much like a league player, so I bled Black and White well before I put it on.”Issac Luke
“My dream was to always be a Kiwis player. The All Blacks are the pinnacle in New Zealand as it was always rugby throughout school, but I was told I couldn’t play 1st XV because I played too much like a league player, so I bled Black and White well before I put it on.”
Luke decided to hang up his boots, after a career where he achieved almost everything possible.
League has been his entire life since he was a teenager when he left Taranaki to chase his NRL dreams in Sydney.
“My goal was to give kids from where I came from pathways,” Luke tells the Herald. “I wasn’t big, or tall, but I had a bit of mongrel and skill.
“For someone from Hawera, even getting one [NRL] game was special. So getting to 286 and 43 tests, I am pretty content with what I have done.”
“Rugby league is all about playing for pride. I took Taranaki everywhere with me, the maunga often gave me energy. For me it was all about playing for your people, if I make it, Taranaki makes it, when I made the Kiwis, they made the Kiwis.”“With the Kiwis it’s all about leaving the jersey in a better place and I believe I did that.”Issac Luke
“Rugby league is all about playing for pride. I took Taranaki everywhere with me, the maunga often gave me energy. For me it was all about playing for your people, if I make it, Taranaki makes it, when I made the Kiwis, they made the Kiwis.”
“With the Kiwis it’s all about leaving the jersey in a better place and I believe I did that.”
Luke was a unique talent.
He had rough edges but was a wonderful player. Luke is arguably the best Kiwis hooker in history (Brandon Smith may take that mantle, but not yet) and was a dominant No 9 in the NRL.
He was a fearless competitor, who helped to change the sport with his dummy half running game, and at times even managed to overshadow Cameron Smith at his peak.
“I was fortunate to coach Issac at both club and at international level. He was a player that loved playing for the Kiwis as he was a very proud New Zealander. He always represented his family and country with great passion and will retire as one of the greats to wear the Black & White. Issac was also a great club man that helped South Sydney to their 21st GF win after 43yrs. “I will always remember Issac for his speed and deception around the ruck terrorising an opposition.”Kiwis Head Coach, Michael Maguire
“I was fortunate to coach Issac at both club and at international level. He was a player that loved playing for the Kiwis as he was a very proud New Zealander. He always represented his family and country with great passion and will retire as one of the greats to wear the Black & White. Issac was also a great club man that helped South Sydney to their 21st GF win after 43yrs.
“I will always remember Issac for his speed and deception around the ruck terrorising an opposition.”
He was part of a golden period for the Kiwis, with the 2008 World Cup victory and the 2010 and 2014 Four Nations triumphs. Luke was also a key figure in the Rabbitohs revival, which culminated in the 2014 grand final win, and he scored 50 tries and kicked 205 goals across his NRL career.
“If I was being picky, there are two things I wanted to achieve; get that milestone of 300 and go to the Dally M’s and bring something home,” says the 34-year-old.
“But I won an NRL premiership, a World Club Challenge, the NRL Nines, the Four Nations and a World Cup. I think I achieved enough.”
Luke rates Cameron Smith as his toughest foe and was proud to be recognised as the international hooker of the year (ahead of Smith) in 2013.
Jonathan Thurston was the toughest competitor – “by a country mile” – and Sam Burgess his best teammate.
“It was uncanny, from the first game I looked at him and he just knew what I was going to do,” says Luke. “From then on, every time I moved, he moved.”
Luke made his debut in 2007 against the Melbourne Storm.
“They got a tip during the week, ‘a young fella named Issac Luke was going to be debuting – he can’t tackle so run at him’. They sent all their forwards at me; I put Jeff Lima on his arse twice and Ben Cross once.”
Luke was Souths’ first choice rake before his 20th birthday and had some stunning seasons, including the nine-try 2010 campaign. The Rabbitohs reached consecutive preliminary finals in 2012 and 2013, before the 2014 breakthrough, though Luke was infamously suspended from the decider.
“When I heard ‘guilty’ my focus went on helping Api [Koroisau] get ready,” says Luke. “But I rang my dad and once I heard his voice I broke down. That was what we always dreamed about, one of his kids, or even someone from Taranaki….so to make it that far and not get to play was hard.
“It was tough, definitely tough. People even say today, I can’t believe you missed out on the grand final. But we won, so I’m all good with that.”
Luke will never forget the 2008 World Cup final, when the Kiwis shocked Australia, who had Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Smith, 34-20 at Suncorp Stadium.
He says it’s one of his favourite memories in the Black and White jersey.
“In 2005 I was playing Junior Kiwis with Sam Rapira, Greg Eastwood and Sika Manu and that night we were all the [interchange] bench,” says Luke. “I was 21 and we beat possibly the best Kangaroos team they have ever assembled.”
The 2014 Four Nations campaign was also special, as was captaining the Kiwis in 2015 and 2018.
That 2018 season – especially the early streak – and the haka for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the Dally M awards are his favourite Warriors memories.
Luke will stay close to the game in retirement, especially mentoring his kids.
His eldest son Adaquix (14) is a fullback at the Broncos academy, while Cruz (13) is with the Panthers and daughter Ava (11) has gained a league scholarship to Marsden State High, south of Brisbane. Frankie (5) and Remi (3) might be future prospects.
“I’ll be in that space where I can help, coach my kids or be a part of a team that needs my knowledge,” says Luke, who is happily settled in Brisbane, where his wife’s family are based.
Luke will always be a special story, from an unlikely background to the top of his sport.
“When I was growing up I had a lot of mates who were so talented but they were ‘them’, smoking in the in-goal, then get on the field and be man of the match,” says Luke. “What brought me to where I am is that I didn’t want to be like them…I pushed myself in different areas.
“My Dad always told me when I was little it’s either you or them…that still rings in my ears. Sometimes I would get run over but I would get back up and go looking for you.”
Rabbitohs (2007-2015) – 188 NRL gamesWarriors (2016-2019) – 83 NRL gamesDragons (2020) – 3 NRL gamesBroncos (2020) – 12 NRL games
NRL record: 286 games, 50 tries, 205 goals.
Kiwis debut: v Australia, 2008.Kiwis record: 43 tests, 5 tries, 22 goals
“I’m happy to be a part of this Kiwis family forever”Issac Luke
“I’m happy to be a part of this Kiwis family forever”
Adapted from Michael Burgess’ NZ Herald feature piece
09 August 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has committed to growing the game of Kiwi Tag across the country, building on what Auckland Rugby League has achieved to establish the Kiwi Tag sport in the Auckland district.
Kiwi Tag is a fast-paced territorial game based around the common laws and rules of rugby league, minus the contact. With eight aside, Kiwi Tag is exciting, friendly and free-flowing, suitable and safe for all ages, genders sizes and skill levels.
Two inaugural Kiwi Tag Tournaments will be held in Hawkes Bay and Christchurch from the 22nd – 26th November this year.
The first-ever North Island Kiwi Tag Tournament will take place at Mitre 10 Park in Hawkes Bay on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd November, while the inaugural South Island Tournament will be held at Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch on Thursday 25th November and Friday 26th November.
These tournaments are aimed at Year 9 and Year 10 students and are open to both males and females.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “It’s exciting we can offer these inaugural Kiwi Tag Tournaments to provide a platform for rangatahi throughout the North and South Island to showcase and develop their skills.”
“We are committed to growing Kiwi Tag opportunities throughout the country, as it’s an inclusive game that encourages people of all ages and skill levels to stay active, have fun and on some occasions participate in a team sport for the first time.
“The growth of Kiwi Tag is also reflective of our commitment to Sport NZ’s Balance is Better philosophy.”
27 July 2021
Kiwi #779 and Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was yesterday granted an immediate release from his club contract, sparking the end of a highly decorated rugby league career.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s last game for the Warriors was against the Penrith Panthers, where he had to depart with a concussion. He was set to return to play against the Wests Tigers this weekend before the decision was made to head home.
Tuivasa-Sheck was the only Warriors player to spend all of last season without his family. His commitment to the club went above and beyond. He played a significant role in holding the Warriors squad together throughout the pandemic. Sharing the announcement with his teammates on Monday, Tuivasa-Sheck said, “It was tough holding it all back”.
“I’m pretty sure they were quite disappointed and although they’re supportive that I get to chase a new challenge and dream of mine, it was tough to hold back the tears.
“It’s a sad way to end my time at the club, especially when my last game was with a concussion and not being able to play in front of all our fans back at Mt Smart.
“It is a sad way to [end] but I’m just grateful to have the club supporting me along the way.”
Apia-born, Auckland-raised, Tuivasa-Sheck has had an amazing career in the Black and White jersey. Debuting at Kiwi #779, playing 20 test matches with 56 test points.
He became a schoolboy star in rugby league and union for Otahuhu College. Sydney Roosters recognised his talent and lured him across the Tasman at the end of 2011. Named in the 2012 NYC Team of the Year, the 19-year-old featured in the last six games of the Roosters’ NRL campaign. He represented the Junior Kiwis and was named NZRL’s Junior Player of the Year.
In the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, Tuivasa-Sheck became one of the main stars at the tournament. On debut, Tuivasa-Sheck scored a try on the flank against Samoa – the first of eight tries he scored at the tournament, a tally that included a dazzling double in the epic semi-final win over England.
Tuivasa-Sheck took over from retired club legend Anthony Minichiello as the Roosters’ fullback in 2015 and immediately assumed the No. 1 jersey in the Kiwis’ line-up, starring in their rousing 26-12 ANZAC Test triumph in Brisbane and all three Tests on the post-season tour of England. Setting new standards for metre-eating productivity, he also collected the Dally M fullback of the year award.
At just 23 years of age, he was incoming Warriors coach (and former Kiwis mentor) Stephen Kearney’s surprise choice to captain the club in 2017. But Tuivasa-Sheck responded by winning the first of three straight Warriors Player of the Year awards. He was a try-scorer in the last mid-season Anzac Test in Canberra before playing in all four of New Zealand’s RLWC matches and scoring three times to set a new mark for World Cup tries by a Kiwi (11), while also collecting NZRL’s Kiwis Player of the Year honour.
Tuivasa-Sheck led the Warriors to the finals after a seven-year absence in a phenomenal 2018 campaign, becoming the club’s first Dally M Medal winner – and just the third New Zealander (after Gary Freeman and Jason Taumalolo) to collect the prestigious honour as the premiership’s best and fairest.
While the Warriors slid down the NRL ladder, Tuivasa-Sheck’s performances in 2019 remained top-shelf. An absolute workhorse for his side, the skipper topped the competition for running metres and set a new NRL record for metres gained in a game (367), while still managing to produce his trademark game-breaking brilliance on a regular basis. He finished equal-fifth in the Dally M Medal count – first among players from teams that missed the finals.
‘RTS’ scored a try in the Kiwis’ mid-season win over Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium to take his Test tally to 14 in just 17 matches. Tuivasa-Sheck featured in New Zealand’s loss to Australia and both victories over Great Britain at the end of the year; he was particularly influential in the tough 12-8 win against the Lions at Eden Park, setting up the opening try for Jamayne Isaako with a breath-taking flick pass and coming up with several vital defensive plays in the tense dying stages.
A nominee in 2015, Tuivasa-Sheck’s excellence in the international arena was recognised via the 2019 RLIF Golden Boot award. The 28-year-old joined Hugh McGahan (1987), Stacey Jones (2002), Benji Marshall (2010), and Shaun Johnson (2014) as the only New Zealanders to collect the gong in its 28-year history, solidifying his status as an all-time Kiwis great.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s exceptional, inspirational and selfless role as the skipper of the Warriors’ Australia-based campaign in 2020 attracted universal admiration and a richly-deserved Dally M Captain of the Year award.
Tuivasa-Sheck will switch to rugby union with the Auckland Blues for the next Super Rugby season and set his sights on playing for the All Blacks at the 2023 World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates and extends their appreciation to Kiwi #779 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for an astonishing career with the New Zealand Kiwis. Wishing him all the best on his next journey and future achievements to come.
22 July 2021
The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) today informed the International Rugby League (IRL) and Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) organisers that Australia and New Zealand will not compete in a 2021 World Cup because of player welfare and safety concerns.
The ARLC and NZRL have again requested the RLWC2021 be postponed until 2022 to minimise risk of players contracting COVID-19 and ensure the best outcome for player wellbeing.
The decision to withdraw from the RLWC2021 comes after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL Telstra Premiership players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup. The ARLC and NZRL have resolved, that in the present environment the risks to athletes and officials travelling to the UK to participate in the tournament this year are too great, and it is unable to endorse Australia and New Zealand participating in the RLWC in 2021.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys AM said player wellbeing and safety must come first.
“Not participating in this year’s World Cup is not a decision the Commission has taken lightly, but we must put the best interests of our players and officials first. Protecting them is our absolute priority,’’ he said.
“In the current environment, the risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of the players and officials travelling from Australia to participate in the tournament this year are insurmountable. The majority of NRL players are currently living away from home under difficult biosecurity protocols. They would then be required to remain under protocols and away from home for the duration of the tournament before again quarantining on return to Australia. This is too much to ask our players and officials to do.
“We have again requested the IRL and Rugby League World Cup consider postponing the event until 2022 to enable all players to participate.”
NZRL CEO Greg Peters said the decision to withdraw was in the best interests of players and officials.
“The safety and wellbeing of our people is the main priority, and unfortunately, that cannot be guaranteed to our satisfaction,” he said.
“There are stark differences between how the pandemic is being managed in the UK compared to Australasia and recent developments have highlighted how quickly things can change.
“The tournament organisers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the Covid-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and it’s simply too unsafe to send teams and staff over.
“We understand how disappointing this is for fans and those involved; however player and staff safety remains paramount.”
29 June 2021
Congratulations to the following who received Distinguished Service Awards at the recent 2021 NZRL AGM
George Tuata Tahapehi has been involved in the game since 1978, coaching the Putaruru Dragons, Ngongotaha, Pacific Sharks and the Tokoroa Devils. Tahapehi also coached Tokoroa High School and won the final of the Telecom Cup. George, a founding Life Member of Midland Masters Rugby League Tokoroa, is still playing at 73 and received Gold Shorts Kiwi Player in Australia in 2016.
Tahapehi enjoyed a spell as Midland Rugby League President from 1980-90 and has been a vital figure in the club. He served as a Junior Schoolboy Co-ordinator, youth representative coach and administrator for most of the Senior Grades. He coached the u15s, became a premier referee and an Honorary Member of Midlands Rugby League Club. George Tahapehi has had an enormous influence on the district and fabric of the club.
On a national level, the Midlands man has been involved in the NZRL Schoolboys Council, the New Zealand Schools u15 council, Kiwis Schoolboys coach in 1991 and North Island Rugby League coach in 1980.
George has served the game he loves for 43 years and did the mileage that has allowed the rugby league community in Tokoroa to survive. Tahapehi continues to serve the community holding barbecues for the annual Children’s Day in Tokoroa and also collecting boots that he can provide tamariki and rangatahi to which they often wouldn’t have been able to afford.
Alana Lockhorst has been a significant member of the Southland rugby league community. She has been a key person for Cooks Rugby League Club in Invercargill for the past ten years and has divided her time into making sure the club is well resourced, active in recruiting and retaining players and undertakes a majority of key roles in organising the club.
Alana has been the heart of Southland Rugby League for the past ten years. She has held various roles in the district, including secretary, treasurer, and at times has led the organisation and managed the Premier representative team, the Southland Rams.
She has almost single-handedly promoted and created opportunities for rangatahi in the game. She runs competitions and organises funding and resourcing for 14s, 15s, 17s, and girls representative teams.
She currently organises and manages the senior competition and is always involved in any events and activities hosted by Southland Rugby League.
She works closely with the managers of club and representative teams to upskill them whilst also managing age-grade teams where required.
Without her contribution operationally, Southland Rugby League would not have provided the level of rugby league that they do to their community.
Alana managed the NZ Secondary Schools Team in 2017 and the NZ Residents Team in 2017 and 2019.
An NZRL historian and long-serving member of the Wellington Rugby League Referees Association, William “Bill” Mann has been serving the rugby league community since 1943. Mann began coaching in 1957 before moving to Porirua and co-founding the Western Suburbs RLC, which later changed their name to Porirua City.
He joined the WRL Referees Association in 1963, working his way up to a senior referee and then treasurer of the association between 1969 and 1972, rules critic from 1975-80 and referee’s delegate on the WRL Board of Control and Chairman in 1980-81. Mann retired from his position in 1981 and was made a Life Member of the WRLRA in 1985.
Bill Mann was a pioneer in the rugby league and referee’s space in Wellington and created a better game in the region. His efforts will not go unnoticed and are still felt to this day.
Desmond O’Sullivan is also a member of the Wellington Rugby League Referees Association, beginning his relationship with the game more than 50 years ago as a coach of junior side Marist-St Joseph’s school in Auckland – picking up the whistle in 1967 at age 17.
Between 1967 and 1993, O’Sullivan officiated 95 representative games, had 16 international appointments and refereed two Wellington club grand finals in 1986 and 1988. He officiated the Tusk Cup, Rugby League Cup, National Tournament and other representative honours also.
In 1972, Des moved to Wellington and was voted into the association in September of that year; after fixtures as a touch judge, O’Sullivan had his first provincial refereeing appointment on September 11th, 1976. In 1978, Des was made an Assistant Rules Critic of the WRLRA before becoming Deputy Chairman in 1981. The following year O’Sullivan was elected Chairman, of which he served until 1990.
During this period, Desmond was a part of the NZRL Test Panel for two years and ran numerous lines and the reserve referee. A year before he stood down from refereeing in 1993, Des was made a Life Member of the Wellington Referees Association. He later got involved in writing and running the first level three referee’s course at Hopuhopu in 1997 and even received a Queen’s Service Medal for his contribution to rugby league, rotary and to the New Zealand Police.
His last honour came in 2011 when he was made a life member of the Wellington Rugby League and has been a patron of the WRLRA since 2010.
Barrie first got involved in Rugby League in 1985. He became a member of the Korodale Rugby League Club, becoming the assistant manager in 1986, for the Trentham Camp Rugby League Club, which at the time was affiliated to the Korodale Rugby League as the Trentham Army Team or Korodale Army. Barrie held the position of manager in 1987.
Upon posting to Burnham, Barrie relinquished his roles and simply supported the Burnham camp team in the Canterbury competition.
When Barrie returned to Trentham, on Army posting, he again took over as the Trentham Team manager and club chairman (1993 – 1996). The club was known as the Upper Hutt Army or occasionally as Trentham Tigers and was affiliated to the Upper Hutt Rugby League Club, fielding the club’s senior second’s team. The club went from strength to strength over this period where the Trentham Camp team under the Upper Hutt Tigers colours won 2 grand finals, 1994 and 1996 and were semi-finalists in 1995.
For a short period, Barrie was also Vice Chairman of Upper Hutt (six months) just before posting to Waiouru in November 1996.
On posting to Waiouru, Barrie took up the reigns of the Waiouru “Bobcats” Rugby League Club, where he again was the manager and club chairman. During his tenure, and with assistance from rugby league enthusiasts in the Waimarino district established a small junior rugby league group where games were played on a turn-up and play basis. Many weekends were spent travelling with the premiers on Saturday and with the juniors on a Sunday. During this period, the Waiouru Bobcats went through many structures and eventually settled on a Premier Reserve Team where they won 2 grand finals in the Manawatu competition.
Barrie relinquished these roles when he posted to Linton in 2002. Barrie supported the Linton Army Rugby league club, Linton “Cobra’s”, from 2002 and remains an avid supporter. During his time with the club, he held the role of Chairman over the period 2013 To 2019.
Under Barrie’s guidance and with assistance from other military rugby league enthusiasts incorporated the women’s game into the fold at Linton with a strong contingent of army and community members joining the team to participate in the Wellington Women’s Rugby league Competition. The club also grew to include junior playing teams during his time as Chairperson.
Law held the position of Chairman NZ Defence Forces Rugby League and, when not hosting, has been an executive committee member. Barrie has been referred to within Army and NZ Defence Force as Mr Rugby League.
Barrie was instrumental in producing the first strategic plan for NZ Defence Forces Rugby League, which approved two matches a year, something no other sports code in Defence had at the time. He was also instrumental in having the NZ Defence Forces Rugby League approved by NZRL as an official NZ representative side.
Barrie was awarded the NZ Army Colour for Sport in November 2004.
Congratulations to all of the above who received Distinguished Service Awards at the recent 2021 NZRL AGM. We thank you for your years of service and dedication to the great game of rugby league.
28 June 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) held its annual general meeting on Saturday, 26th June.
The AGM reflected on an encouraging financial performance and a strong rebuild post the initial impact of Covid, as NZRL (parent) announced a $750,000 profit and $1m when consolidated with the seven Zones.
CEO Greg Peters said, “We are finally in a stabilised financial position following significant losses in 2017/18 and 2018/19 and after an improved performance in 2019/20.
“The recent announcement regarding our renewed and improved partnership with Sky combined with other new revenue lines will see significantly increased investment into the grassroots game via our Zones. This is the first substantial increase for many years.”
However, Peters was quick to note the Covid risk is still very present.
“Although positive we aren’t out of the woods yet. There are ongoing risks, and we know how quickly things can change; nevertheless, we are now in a position where we can better grow the game and its opportunities throughout the country.”
The 2021 AGM also saw Reon Edwards retire from his role as NZRL Chairman while long-serving Director Hugh Martyn was appointed as the new chair of NZRL.
Newly elected Chairman, Hugh Martyn, had served on the NZRL board for three years as deputy chair and as Acting CEO for six months in 2018; he brings significant governance experience coupled with a dedication to rugby league and an admiration for its impact.
“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Reon on the huge contribution and leadership he’s provided during his time as Chair and Director,” says Martyn.
“His outstanding service and dedication over the last six years have seen him guide and lead the organisation successfully through some trying times. It’s an honour to be given this opportunity; however, Reon will be sorely missed, I wish him all the best with his future endeavours.”
Martyn adds, “In my three years, I have learnt so much about what a difference rugby league can make. The rugby league community has inspired me with the passion and heart that they bring to the game and the good the game does.
“I’m grateful to be able to play an ongoing part in the direction and growth of rugby league in New Zealand, as collectively, we look to achieve great things for our game, communities and people. It is a privilege to be appointed as NZRL’s Chairman.”
Natasha Tere was elected as Deputy Chair of NZRL. She boasts over 15 years of strategic and operational management experience and is passionate about sports administration.
Tere was on the Board of Canterbury Netball for eight years and Chairperson of the Canterbury Tactix. She brings rugby league knowledge at a grassroots level, sitting on the Southern Zone board since 2017 and is driven to improve stakeholder engagement and cultural and social diversity.
The AGM also welcomed two new director appointments in Jeni Pearce MNZM (Independent) and Justin Leydesdorff (Knowledgeable).
Jeni Pearce is an internationally recognised New Zealand sports scientist who has worked in the high-performance environment in both New Zealand and England for the past 13 years.
Pearce is also a well-respected published author, authoring 12 books and selling over 170,000 copies. She doubled as a university and public lecturer and was awarded a Member of the New Zealand of Merit in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Sports Nutrition.
Justin Leydesdorff brings with him over 20 years of experience in governance and senior leadership positions surrounding the delivery of sport and recreation in New Zealand.
Leydesdorff worked as an independent Board member and Chairperson for Counties Manukau Rugby League from April 2015 to July 2020 and joined the Zone’s Risk and Audit Committee from July 2020 until April 2021.
NZRL Chairman Hugh Martyn says, “Jeni brings with her an abundance of governance experience, and her accolades and honours are a testament to the value she provides.
“Justin is well respected in the rugby league community, and his experience, passion and connection to our game make him a valuable addition. We are very fortunate to have two candidates of this calibre join our team.”
To conclude the AGM, NZRL awarded the following with Distinguished Service Awards: Des Michael O’Sullivan, William ‘Bill’ Mann, George Tuata Tahapehi, Alana Lockhorst and Barrie Robert James Law.
The NZRL Board is Hugh Martyn (Chair), Natasha Tere (Deputy Chair), Tawera Nikau, Grant Stapleton, Paula Kearns, Jeni Pearce, and Justin Leydesdorff.
23 June 2021
New Zealand Rugby League and NRL action will be live on Sky for many years to come. Today Sky confirmed an exciting partnership with NZRL and it’s so much more than a broadcast deal.
Sky will continue to bring sports fans every fantastic match of the NRL and State of Origin, and all the NZRL-run matches involving the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns. But it’s more than this.
Through this partnership, Sky have committed to working even more closely with the NRL and NZRL to grow the game of Rugby League in New Zealand.
Sky will promote and support wāhine toa, and do everything to engage with and develop the next generation of League fans and players from grassroots to high performance. Together there is a keen focus on the future of the game.
This digital partnership means together all entities can deliver great fan moments and experiences to all New Zealanders in ways that work for them.
Sky have also committed to making some important matches available free-to-access, to ensure as many Kiwis as possible can enjoy the wonderful game of Rugby League.
Andrew Abdo, NRL Chief Executive says: “This is an exciting deal for rugby league fans in New Zealand and highlights Sky’s ongoing commitment to growing our game. It ensures every Premiership and NRLW game will continue to be broadcast live, along with the Finals Series and State of Origin.
“Sky’s increased commitment for the duration of this deal will assist in expanding our reach in New Zealand including coverage of our emerging development competitions. There’s around 1 million Kiwis who follow rugby league and partnerships like this play a vital role in growing our fan base and ensuring even more coverage of the one of the world’s most entertaining and exciting competitions. We have some of the best athletes in the world and a growing number of those players are from New Zealand.
“This deal also highlights the importance of the New Zealand Warriors. Despite the Warriors not having played in Auckland for over a year, Sky were committed to not only extending their deal, but significantly broadening it.”
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO says: “Sky has been a long-term supporter of Rugby League for over 25 years now, and the nature of this renewed partnership enhances and deepens this to a new level.
“Against the backdrop of our current sponsorship agreement, coupled with added value over the next seven years, this enables us to support the game in ways we haven’t seen before, from grassroots to high performance.
“This kind of partnership signifies a new era and is a real milestone for Rugby League. Thank you to Sky Sport for sharing our vision and supporting us in such a significant capacity.”
More than 1.1 million New Zealand fans have tuned into the NRL this year alone. In 2020, League lovers and occasional sport fans alike enjoyed 276 matches, across NRL, the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns, State of Origin, the NSW and QLD Cups and the National Premiership Men’s and Women’s.
Sky, NZRL and the NRL will continue to support the game in New Zealand – together we can do great things.
 Source Nielsen TAM, 2021 Year To Date 22/06/21, AP5+ including Prime
16 June 2021
The much loved Sky Sport NZRL Rugby League Roadshow is back and will be visiting Canterbury Agriculture Park in Christchurch next Saturday, June 26th.
The Roadshow will run alongside scheduled Mini Mod games and will kick off around 9 am.
The Roadshow is then scheduled to visit Timaru on July 30th and Hawkes Bay on August 28th; NZRL will release further information on the upcoming destinations in due course.
In association with the Vodafone Warriors and Sky Sport, the Roadshow aims to promote rugby league in the regions to showcase our great game and encourage new registrations.
There will be plenty of fun games, giveaways and spot prizes on the day for participants.
The Roadshows can also provide local league clubs with the opportunity to have a presence at each activation to connect more directly with community members to find their future players.
In addition to this, Kiwi League Kids (12 and under) who register with a club will later receive a Sky Sport starter pack which includes a brand new OPRO mouthguard, Kiwis/Ferns poster, rugby league ball, and ball bag.
NZRL General Manager of Community Ani Cherrington says: “We are excited to see the Roadshow return as it’s an important way for us to showcase and grow our game. It’s great we can do this in partnership with Sky Sport and the Warriors, and we to hope see our communities turn out in force.”
The Roadshows are a free event and open to all members of the community.
Christchurch Canterbury Agricultural Park | Saturday June 26th | 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Timaru | Ashbury Park |July 30th | 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Hawkes Bay | TBC | August 28th | TBC
01 June 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is pleased to confirm a busy NZ16s and NZ18s representative schedule for the year in liaison with New Zealand Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) and Auckland Rugby League (ARL).
NZRL recently announced the selection of an NZ18s Girls Schools team off the back of the inaugural NZRL Secondary Schools Girl’s Competition in August. The NZ18s Girls will take on the Auckland 18s Girls on Sunday, 3 October.
The Auckland 18s side will be selected off the back of the Auckland Rugby League (ARL) Region of Origin. The ARL Region of Origin provides a pathway for players unavailable to participate in the NZRL Secondary Schools or NZMRL Rangatahi Tournaments to represent Auckland in a trial game against New Zealand Secondary School Girls.
ARL CEO Greg Whaiapu says: “It’s really exciting to be able to offer up these opportunities for our local Auckland players and we’re looking forward to being part of the NZRL’s annual competitions.”
“The girls-specific grades are the fastest growing area of our game right now and it’s an important next step that we continue to offer more opportunities for our players and coaches in those grades to earn honours at a higher level.
“We also want to encourage and help the other districts around New Zealand to keep growing the female game.”
New Zealand Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) will select a squad to participate in the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective Tournament (15th – 17th October) off the back of their NZMRL Rangatahi Tournament over Queen’s Birthday weekend in June.
John Devonshire, NZMRL Chairman, says, “This is an outstanding opportunity for our seven foundation member nations to come together in an inaugural Pasifika Aotearoa Collective (PAC) rangatahi side.”
“For so long we have competed against each other at many levels, the opportunity for our Cook Island, Fijian, Niuean, NZ Māori, Samoan, Tongan and Tokelauns to play together side by side is incredible. We are grateful to Motu Tony and the NZRL for this opportunity to create our own PAC history.”
From there, NZMRL will then finalise their 18s Kotiro team to take on the NZ18s Girls at the NZMRL Tuakana Tournament in Rotorua on October 23rd.
John Devonshire, adds, “For our Māori Kotiro 18’s side to participate in this historical match is right. NZ Māori, along with the ARL have been the key drivers in the kotiro space. The match is a reflection of the momentum that kotiro rugby league is having in NZ. Well done Lui and the NZRL; this has been a long time in the making, it is here now – bring it on!”
The NZMRL Tuakana Tournament will also play host to a clash between the NZ Resident 16s and the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective 17s (Boys).
The NZ Resident 16s team will comprise of the best players from the NZRL National Youth Tournament held in early October, while the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective 17s will be the merit team selected from the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective Tournament.
Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says the new representative clashes are huge milestones for the game.
“It’s so exciting to provide these playing opportunities which reflect the hard mahi going into growing and developing our women’s space across the country.”
“Thank you to ARL and NZMRL, who have pioneered the girls game for many years now. It’s exciting to come together and provide opportunities for girls to play rugby league at a representative level. It adds a layer of incentive and fosters further pathways that encourage participation growth and player development.
“I can’t wait to see what the girls produce come the end of the year.”
NZ18s Schools v Clubs also returns for its second year, which will see the best 18s players from the NZRL Secondary School Competition and NZRL Youth Tournament face off in October. NZRL will release further detail on the clash in due course.
19 April 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has been given a once in a generation opportunity to improve and transform the code as part of the Government’s COVID-19 Sport Recovery Package.
Of this recovery package, Sport NZ’s ‘Strengthen and Adapt’ phase aims to help sector organisations make changes necessary to ensure they are future-proofed in order to operate successfully in the post-pandemic environment.
NZRL completed an in-depth research process involving key rugby league stakeholder groups to determine the code’s current positioning, gaps and pressure points.
Using the feedback and insights gained, NZRL created its ‘Strengthen and Adapt’ response plan, ‘Ngā Ringa Āwhina’ – an initiative designed to support increased capability across the rugby league network at all levels in New Zealand.
Sport NZ will contribute $750,000 towards NZRL’s Ngā Ringa Āwhina project over 18 months (April 2021 – June 2022). NZRL will be supplementing this amount to ensure the programme is sustainable and also can continue to exist past the initial Sport NZ funding period.
The kaupapa of Ngā Ringa Āwhina is ‘the helping or supportive hands’ and encapsulates the concept of working alongside Zones, Districts, Clubs and communities, as a partner, in a mana enhancing way.
In short, Ngā Ringa Āwhina aims to establish initiatives of trained (and externally supported) specialists deployed into regions as agreed with Zones, Districts and Clubs following an analysis of needs, to support their existing personnel in making improvements, and leave resources in place for long term sustainability.
The four main components of Ngā Ringa Āwhina are as follows:
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this is a massive opportunity for rugby league.
“The desired outcome of Ngā Ringa Āwhina is a rugby league network that is consistent, confident, credible, and professional. A safe, supportive environment reflective of and integral to our communities. This has the potential to have a significant long-term impact on the game in New Zealand.”
Sport New Zealand CEO, Raelene Castle says, “We have worked alongside Greg and the NZRL team in the development of Ngā Ringa Āwhina and we are excited about the opportunity this represents for the Rugby League community.
“Sport New Zealand’s strengthen and adapt programme aims to support our National Partners to rebuild post-Covid-19 and make changes to operate successfully post-pandemic, strengthening their capability and capacity and creating a better future for the communities they serve. We look forward to seeing the programme hit the ground.”
10 April 2021
Despite the pouring rain at Opaheke Park, the 2021 National 20s Grand Final was one to remember. Central Districts were crowned 2021 NZRL National 20s Champions after upsetting Auckland Blue 18-14 in a dramatic final showdown.
Auckland Blue were dominant throughout the first half as Viliami Finau opened the scoring after just five minutes with a try in the corner. Central Districts hit back but Auckland’s Jeremiah Schuster’s scored before the break giving the home side a 10-4 lead at half-time.
Minutes into the second half Central Districts scored through Lennix Tovo and for the following half hour dominated most of the match, aided by Auckland wing Albert Fifita being sent to the sin bin with 25 to go for a professional foul.
Further tries to Wyatt So’otaga and Herman Seumanufagai, both of which were converted by Brooklyn Herewini, stretched the Central Districts lead to 18-10.
The late try to Taufa gave Auckland a chance at a dramatic comeback with less than one minute remaining, but Central Districts held on handing Auckland Blue their first loss of the competition.
Congratulations to Central Districts the 2021 NZRL National 20s Champions.
09 April 2021
Aspiring Her Game Developer 2021 is the first female-only game developers programme created and implemented by Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, Luisa Avaiki.
Aspiring Her has been created to strengthen and widen the female talent pool in rugby league both on and off the field.
The development programme looks to call on current wahine in the game carrying out various roles and connect them with a wider community of aspiring women.
NZRL in liaison with Zone General Managers and Development Officers, have identified a pool of influential females and volunteers throughout the regions to work as Aspiring Her Game Developers.
These Aspiring Her Game Developers consist of female coaches, administrators, managers, leaders, match officials, trainers, and board member. Their task is to mentor and empower females in their respective regions, both on and off the field, to reach their full potential.
In its pilot year, the programme will run for 12 months and will provide support at all levels, all-female lead and facilitated. This includes regular zoom workshops, mentoring sessions as well as an annual conference, coupled with ongoing Zone and Regional support, NZRL Game Developer support and the facilitation of individualised personal development plans.
The inaugural Aspiring Her Game Development Conference is taking place in Auckland this weekend (9-11 April) which is designed for the newly identified Aspiring Her Game Developers and trainers to implement a support plan for the year.
Ultimately the programme’s objective is to see a well-established National Female Developer Network that strengthens the female game through increased opportunities that empower female participants in rugby league associated roles.
Going forward, Aspiring Her Game Developers will also look to identify other females capable of stepping into mentorship roles, further widening the influence pool and support network.
Programme Founder and Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, Luisa Avaiki, says this is one of the first female led game development programmes of its kind.
“This kind of development network for our women has never been seen in rugby league. We are making exciting progress in our female space regarding growing playing numbers and new women’s competitions, so it is essential to capitalise on this by enhancing the capability and opportunities for women across the board, both in a football and administration capacity.
“The Aspiring Her Programme will look to implement a system that enables regions to strengthen and develop their people, so the momentum is felt across all levels and in all districts throughout New Zealand.
“The power of our programme comes from women inspiring women. It’s a privilege to have such influential wahine in our game who are willing to share their skills and expertise and ultimately pave the way for generations of successful women in rugby league.”
09 March 2021
Due to Auckland being in Alert Level 3, where all rugby league activity (playing, contact and non-contact training) remains postponed for the remainder of the week (pending Government update), the NZRL National 20s competition schedule has been rearranged.
This Sunday, 7 March, the 12 pm match between Central Districts vs. South Island at Jerry Collins Stadium in Wellington will go ahead as planned WITHOUT CROWDS.
The two other Round Two games (Northland vs. Auckland White and Waicoa Bay vs. Auckland Blue) have been rescheduled to take place on Friday, 2 April in Opaheke, Auckland.
As a result of the reschedule, the grand final has now been moved to Saturday 10April, 12:30 pm at Opaheke, Auckland.
Unfortunately, Takahiwai will no longer host any 20s games for the year; however, Northland will get a home game at Trigg Arena (Whangarei Stadium) on Saturday 27 March, 2:30 pm vs. Auckland Blue.
All of the NZRL National 20s games can be viewed live on Sky Sport 4, as well as Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for Australian viewers.
For those OUTSIDE AUCKLAND, rugby league activity is permitted ONLY if clubs and facilities can abide by all of the below health requirements:
NZRL will provide further guidance regarding return to rugby league activity for Auckland and any further update on the National 20s competition when possible (subject to Government updates).
The health and wellbeing of our communities remain the priority. Please wear a mandatory face mask if taking public transport and continue to abide by the above health and safety requirements.
Thank you for your ongoing co-operation and understanding during this time.
February 26, 2021
Rugby League and other New Zealand sports are coming together to walk alongside the rainbow community in the Auckland Rainbow Parade next month, celebrating diversity and inclusion.
We’re delighted to announce that the Rainbow Parade in Auckland has been rescheduled for Saturday 13th March 2021.
The parade was originally planned for earlier this month but was cancelled due to the recent COVID-19 community cases – but thanks to some quick work from the organisers a new date has been confirmed.
All participants, supporters, and communities from across New Zealand sports are invited to pull on their club colours, matchday kit or sports outfits and come together in a show of unity and support for our rainbow communities.
The Auckland Rainbow Parade will be an uplifting event with a carnival-style atmosphere, dancing, performances, and plenty of music and noise!
The Auckland Rainbow Parade details:
Saturday 13 March, Parade begins on Ponsonby Road.
6.00pm-7.00pm, followed by Ponsonby Street Festival which runs from 7pm – 10pm.
We invite our rugby league communities to join and walk with sport at the parade, if you’re interested in being involved, please register your details here and we’ll be in touch | https://bit.ly/3qGQYsn
Those best dressed (most rainbow and rugby league) will be up for great rugby league prizes including signed Kiwis and Ferns jerseys, rugby league balls, mouthguards and NZRL apparel.
New Zealand Rugby League, alongside other sports from across the country, is committed to supporting and celebrating our people in sport and pursuing diversity throughout our game. For more details of how you can be involved, please email us at [email protected]
24 February 2021
New Zealand Rugby League will kick off its inaugural National 20s Competition this Saturday 27 February when Auckland Blue take on Central Districts at 2pm Opaheke Auckland, followed by Waicoa Bay v Auckland White at Rotorua International Stadium 4pm.
Sunday 28th will see the South Island take on Northland at 12pm down at Nga Puna Wai Stadium in Christchurch.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport 4, and for Australian viewers games available on Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL.
NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony says: “We have been working hard to improve the pathways we provide for our young rugby league players in New Zealand.”
“Our rangatahi are vital to the domestic and professional success of the code, the average age of an NRL debutant is now 21, so it’s crucial we are developing and strengthening this age group as much as we can at home. This competition also allows coaches, managers, trainers and match officials to gain further development and experience.
“The 20s Competition allows us to foster budding rugby league talent from up and down the country and the potential NZRL 2022 SG Ball team adds another layer of incentive for our young players.”
Saturday 27th FebAuckland Blue v Central Districts – 2pm Opaheke Auckland Waicoa Bay v Auckland White – 4pm Rotorua International Stadium Sunday 28th FebSouth Island v Northland – 12pm Nga Puna Wai Christchurch
22 February 2021
The most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years have been crowned and four rugby league greats have been honoured in one of the most prestigious sporting lists.
Dubbed The Little General during his standout career with the Warriors and the Kiwis, Jones was, according to broadcaster Dale Husband, “so popular he could have been Prime Minister”. Played 48 tests and 238 NRL games for the Warriors before turning to coaching. Ex-Warriors and Kiwis teammate Wairangi Koopu said Jones transformed both teams. “The small rarea bird flies up high in the kahikatea tree. That’s how you’d sum up Stacey Jones.”
The star of the Kiwis’ only Rugby League World Cup winning team in 2008, Benji Marshall is about to enter his 19th NRL season, having played over 300 first grade games. Won a NRL title with Wests Tigers in 2005 when he produced an amazing flick pass in the grand final. Golden Boot winner in 2010 as international player of the year. “He could have played State of Origin, he definitely could have played for Australia, but he chose the black jersey over a Kangaroos jumper,” said ex-Kiwi Tony Kemp. “To me, that says everything. The guy’s an absolute legend.”
One of the most respected players in NZ Rugby League history and across the entire NRL scene, Wiki starred during 12 seasons with the Canberra Raiders, winning the 1994 premiership as a centre. Ended his 311-game career with three seasons as a Warriors prop. The most capped Kiwi with 55 tests and a NRL Hall of Famer. Former Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan said of Wiki: “He’s got conviction, he’s got resilience, he’s got power. He never knew the meaning of the word, ‘giving up’.’’
Her 32 Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey includes four World Cups spanning 18 seasons. Putararu-born Hireme-Smiler was named World Cup MVP in 2013 and also appeared for the Black Ferns a year later at the 2014 Rugby World Cup, as well as starring in the Black Ferns sevens team. Former Warriors and Kiwis forward Wairangi Koopu claims Hireme’s ease at switching between the two codes earned her the nickname of “Honey Bill Williams”. She was named in NRL.com’s Women’s Rugby League Team of the Decade (2010s) and appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the game, cementing her standing as one of women’s rugby league’s all-time greats.
1. Lisa Carrington – Te Aitanga-A-Māhaki/Ngāti Porou (Canoeing)2. Michael Campbell – Ngāti Ruanui/Ngāi Rauru (Golf)3. Wynton Rufer – Ngāti Porou (Football)4. Jason Wynyard – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Wood Chopping)5. Pero Cameron – Ngāpuhi (Basketball)6. Zinzan Brooke – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)7. Stacey Jones – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)8. Farah Palmer – Tainui/Ngāti Maniapoto (Rugby)9. Benji Marshall – Ngāi Tuhoe (Rugby League)10. Dame Noeline Taurua – Ngāpuhi (Netball)11. Aaron Smith – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)12. Portia Woodman – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)13. Ruben Wiki – Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)14. Trent Boult – Ngāi Tahu/Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Te Rangi (Cricket)15. Eric Rush – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)16. Winston Reid – Tainui/Te Arawa (Football)17. Peter Martin – Te Arawa (Paralympics Athletics)18. Leilani Joyce – Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Te Rangi/Tainui (Squash)19. Suzie Bates – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket/Basketball)20. Honey Hireme-Smiler – Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāi Haua/Waikato-Tainui (Rugby League/Rugby)21. Nathan Nukunuku – Ngāti Porou (Softball)22. Temepara Bailey – Ngāpuhi (Netball)23. Shane Bond – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket)24. Sarah Hirini – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)25. Joelle King – Ngāti Porou (Squash)26. Raelene Castle – Ngāpuhi (Sports Administrator)27. Kayla Whitelock – Rangitāne (Hockey)28. Cathy Millen – Ngāi Tuhoe (Power Lifting)29. Cameron Leslie – Ngāpuhi (Paralympics Swimming/Wheelchair Rugby)30. Shannon McIlroy – Ngāti Porou (Lawn Bowls)
17 February 2021
Rugby league activity in Auckland may resume as of February 18 provided the strict Level 2 requirements set in place by the New Zealand Government can be followed.
Under Level 2 restrictions, which Auckland will move to from midnight on February 17, gatherings for sport are permitted if limited to groups of 100 or less and physical distancing of two metres for those not on the field is observed.
The requirements outlined here apply to any form of rugby league activity, including trainings, games and other gatherings.
Both electronic and manual contact tracing must be available and placed prominently at the entry point to any facility (indoor and outdoor). Click here to download and learn more about the NZ Covid Tracer app.
Anybody displaying symptoms of sickness, awaiting COVID-19 test results or linked to locations of interest for recent COVID-19 cases of sickness should not participate (or leave home).
High standards of hygiene must be adhered to at any rugby league activity or training, including regular and thorough washing and drying of hands, with hand sanitiser made readily available and used at regular intervals.
If any club, team or individual is not able to comply with the requirements listed below they must not resume rugby league activity.
Click here for full Ministry of Health guidelines and advice.
NZRL is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to update you with the latest information, subject to ongoing Government updates.
Please refer to your appropriate District and Club for more specific information on upcoming competitions and fixtures.
14 February 2021
In the wake of Auckland moving to COVID-19 Level 3 for the next three days, all rugby league activity in the region is suspended until midnight on Wednesday, February 17.
This includes all club trainings and activities.
The Auckland Rugby League office will be closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but staff will be working from home and be available. Click here to contact.
Visit www.covid19.covt.nz for more Government information.
29 January 2021
New Zealand Rugby League will kick off its inaugural National 20s Competition on Saturday 27 February 2021. The round-robin competition will play over five consecutive weeks with the two top placed teams set to face off in the final the weekend of April 2.
The NZRL National 20s Competition involves six teams from across New Zealand with Zones and appropriate Districts represented.
Auckland hosts two teams as Auckland Rugby League, Akarana and Counties Manukau join forces to create an Auckland Blue and Auckland White team. Other teams represented include Northland; Wai-Coa Bay, with the inclusion of Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Coastline Districts; Central Districts, including Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington; and South Island, including Tasman, Canterbury, West Coast, Aoraki, Southland and Otago Districts.
The NZRL National 20s Competition will showcase future Kiwis from across the country as this inaugural comp looks to shine a spotlight on New Zealand’s development talent as they pave their way for elite professional contracts.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport, Sky Sport Now and for Australian viewers, Kayo and FOXSPORTS Linear.
December 16, 2020
James Fisher-Harris and Krystal Rota have been named the 2020 New Zealand Rugby League Players of the Year for the first time in their careers, while Dylan Brown earned Young Kiwi Player of the Year for the second year running and Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally took home Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year.
In a season that saw no Kiwi Internationals due to the ongoing implications of Covid-19, the 2020 Kiwis High-Performance Awards were judged solely on NRL performance. The Kiwi Ferns Awards have been credited on international merit due to their clash against Fetu Samoa Invitational which was the only New Zealand Rugby League International for the year.
2020 Kiwis Player of the year, James Fisher-Harris (Kiwi #801), was named 2020 Dally M Prop of the year and earned recognition as one of the NRL’s best and most hardworking forwards. Passing the 100-game milestone for the Panthers, he led the competition in post-contact metres, was the top forward in terms of total run metres and played an integral role in the Panthers’ drive to their first grand final in 17 years.
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “James has performed consistently right throughout the year at such a high standard and to make it to the grand final is a real credit to him.”
“It’s been a pleasure to watch him develop into the player he is, one of his biggest strengths is consistency, you know what he’s going to deliver for his team and he’s a step above where he’s ever been and how he performs. He’s a quiet achiever but he’s all about action. James is a clear asset to any team he’s a part of and is well-deserving of this accolade.”
Captaining her country for the first time, the 10 Test veteran Krystal Rota and 2020 Kiwi Fern player of the year, led the Kiwi Ferns to their 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa Invitational in November. No stranger to the captaincy role, 2020 also saw her captain the Māori All-Stars as well as the Counties Manukau Stingrays, leading them to their 11th straight women’s title in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership.
Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “This was Krystal’s most influential year. I knew she had leadership capabilities from watching her in the Māori All-Stars and throughout her Counties campaigns but these qualities were definitely on display in Kiwi Ferns camp.”
“Captaining your country is whole other ball game, it’s the highest level of leadership and responsibility a player can have and she rose to the challenge. A worthy recipient and these qualities will only continue to grow.”
For the second year running, Kiwis Junior Player of the Year, Dylan Brown cemented his place in the NRL as one of its elite playmakers. Brown made 16 regular-season appearances for Paramatta, with nine line-breaks, 52 tackle-busts, 11 forced dropouts and five tries. At just 20 years of age, he was instrumental in the Eels’ run to the playoffs drawing praise from the highest levels of the game for his defence and multi-faceted attack.
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “A real quality Dylan has shown is his ability to improve every time he steps out on the field.”
“He’s grown as a player and he had a taste of the Kiwis at the Nines last year but I know a real driver for him is to earn a Kiwis Test jersey and he’s definitely heading in the right direction. Watching him push his team around the park, putting his body on the line, growing his leadership capabilities but at the same time building his own game has been pleasing to watch. He’s maturing as a player and showing his true character both on and off the field.”
2020 Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year, Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally, enjoyed a meteoric rise after switching to rugby league in 2020.
Named MVP of the inaugural NZRL National Women’s Championship after her stand-out performance at full-back for the Upper Central Stallions, she then made her international debut at five-eighth for the Kiwi Ferns against Fetu Samoa Invitational.
The 24-year-old’s skills were on display at Mt Smart Stadium, as she played a key hand in two tries before scoring two more of her own, including a blistering 50-metre effort.
Coach Ricky Henry said, “Autumn-Rain scored three tries in the first ever game I watched her play, she’s an outstanding talent that seems to have found her home with rugby league.”
“She’s willing to learn and grow, initially playing out of position but rising to the challenge. She wreaked havoc on the field, she’s explosive, fast and these skills will only mature. She’s definitely one for the future.”
2020 High-Performance Winners:
Kiwis Player of the Year – James Fisher Harris
Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Krystal Rota
Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally
Kiwis Young Player of the Year – Dylan Brown
2020 NZRL Community Award Winners
Grassroots Club of the Year – Mangere East
Domestic Men’s Player of the Year – Francis Leger
Domestic Women’s Player of the Year – Harata Butler
Domestic Coach of the Year – Phil Gordon
U16s Player of the Year – Tre Fotu
U18s Player of the Year – Sam McIntyre
Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson
Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Shayne Wassel
The 2020 NZRL Community Award recipients have tonight been announced with Mangere East Rugby League Club taking out NZRL Grassroots Club of the Year.
What was a truly testing year, Mangere East shone through as a servant for its community, going above and beyond to provide a safe space, while continuing to promote and grow the game of rugby league despite the year’s challenges.
Mangere Easts’ weekly ‘Life Soup Kitchen’ provided free hot meals throughout the year in a safe environment for families that were struggling to make ends meet. The club responded quickly to Auckland’s second lockdown by providing a free Covid-19 testing station in their car park, encouraging members within their community to get checked.
Gala days, school holiday programmes and free meals for local families, are only a fraction of the work Mangere East have been doing off the field to continually serve the needs of their people, epitomising NZRL’s More Than A Game.
The 2020 NZ 16s Player of the Year was awarded to Marists’ Tre Fotu. He was a standout against the NZ Māori 17s scoring a double and continually asking questions of the defence.
NZ 16s Head Coach, Phil Gordon says; “Tre is a young man who epitomised the meaning and value of wearing the Black and White jersey. He was a focused trainer, disciplined in his approach and committed to executing game plans and structures at the highest level.”
The NZ 18s Player of the Year for 2020 was awarded to Northcote Tiger and NZ 18s Clubs captain, Sam McIntyre. Sam captained the NZ 18s Club team in the inaugural Schools v Clubs match, scoring one try and leading his side to a 34-22 victory.
NZ 18s Head Coach, Tusa Lafaele says; “Sam has always displayed a high skill level, technique and ability as an athlete. Often what separates the talented from the successful, is the attitude and fortitude to work hard and be prepared to make sacrifices. Sam has always applied himself in this manner, striving for success and competing with true grit.”
Akarana veteran, Francis Leger, was awarded NZRL Domestic Men’s Player of the Year due to his outstanding season captaining Akarana to their fifth straight NZRL Premiership victory, as well as the NZ Residents.
Harata Butler took home NZRL Domestic Women’s Player of the Year after a successful season in Counties Manukau colours, earning her MVP of the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership as well as her international Kiwi Ferns debut.
NZRL Domestic Coach of the Year was awarded to Phil Gordon after he coached his undefeated Akarana side to an impressive fifth NZRL Premiership, as well the NZ Resident 16s to a convincing 42-6 victory over the NZ Māori Resident 17s.
NZRL Match Official of the Year was awarded to veteran Paki Parkinson after a successful season officiating the NZRL Premiership, NZ 16s and the NZ Residents v NZ Maori Residents.
Pirtek’s 2020 Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Takahiwai’s Shayne Wassel. Despite several disabilities including mild deafness, speech impediment and blindness in one eye, the single father of four never lets that get in the way of his ability to go above and beyond for his local club, whanau and community – Read more about Shayne’s story here.
NZRL would also like to give a special mention to runner up clubs for Grassroots Club of the Year, the Eastern Eagles and Timaru Outlaws.
Despite financial difficulties, the Eastern Eagles immediately switched focus to supporting its club members and the wider community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking support from local businesses, the Eagles procured and co-ordinated the receipt and delivery of hundreds of food packs and other essentials items, reaching pockets of the community that were often missed.
The Timaru Outlaws, just four years old, had only one U7s team in 2018, as of 2020 they now have five junior teams playing under the senior side equating to around 100 registered U13 players. Based in a non-traditional rugby league area, with no club rooms, it’s the collective efforts of the community and their strong whanau values-driven approach that has seen this club flourish with momentum only continuing to rise.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says, “These awards recognise exceptional work in our grassroots, domestic and community space both on and off the field. We congratulate each recipient on their outstanding achievement.
“Thank you to those in our rugby league communities who continue to go above and beyond for our game. In what was a challenging year for most, it’s the dedication of our people that keep rugby league thriving – thank you.”
To watch the NZRL Community Awards, please click here.
The NZRL High-Performance Awards will be broadcast tonight Sky Sport 4 at 7:30 pm.
December 9, 2020
The NZRL National 20s Competition will involve six teams from across New Zealand with Zones and appropriate Districts represented.
Auckland will host two teams as Auckland Rugby League, Akarana and Counties Manukau join forces to create an Auckland Blue and Auckland White team. Other teams represented include Northland; Wai-Coa Bay, with the inclusion of Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Coastline Districts; Central Districts, including Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington; and South Island, including Tasman, Canterbury, West Coast, Aoraki, Southland and Otago Districts.
This year the NZRL National Youth Tournament will move to a 16s and 18s age group format as opposed to its previous 15s and 17s structure to coincide with both Sport NZ’s ‘Balance is Better’ philosophy, as well as the NSW and QLD age group competitions.
With this shift in age categories, NZRL will provide an additional three years of growth and development opportunities for players here in New Zealand with 16s, 18s and now 20s pathways. NZRL will take this a step further come 2022 by entering an NZRL U19 team into the NSW SG Ball competition.
The NZRL National 20s Competition will not only showcase New Zealand’s domestic game but it will provide Clubs and Districts with the opportunity to recruit and retain rangatahi talent, an age group notorious for significant drop-offs in sporting activity according to Sport NZ.
Fixture list and venue confirmation will be finalised in the coming weeks.
3rd February, 2021.
In partnership with Le Va, NZRL has produced a ‘Wellbeing Waka’ that will work to better the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of rugby league communities across New Zealand.
The Wellbeing Waka is a mental health roadshow that is set to sail to 10 of its 17 Districts from now until April. The roadshow not only aims to deliver interactive and educational workshops for Rangatahi and parents, but the Waka will go a step further to develop ‘Wellbeing Champions’ for each of the District areas.
These Champions will be on the ground contacts who provide wellbeing support networks for their communities once the Waka leaves. These Champions will be subject to training opportunities to strengthen their personal tool kits when dealing with potential crises or matters of need regarding mental health, suicide prevention and overall wellbeing.
The Wellbeing Waka will work to provide a safe space to encourage youth and parent forum discussions around mental health and suicide prevention. The Waka aims to empower youth to establish support networks among peers to ensure the voice of the young person is spoken, heard and has a seat at the table in each of the rugby league Districts.
NZRL Wellbeing Manager, Carmen Taplin says: “Our mental health and suicide rates for Maori and Pasifika from within our rugby league communities is high compared to other ethnicities.
“We believe that with education and creating sustainable support networks in our Districts, we are able to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our people and their families.
“We don’t just want to come, deliver a workshop and go. We are here to create a sustainable support model that works to break down the stigma associated with mental health through empowering Rangatahi and those most effected to take the lead within their communities.
“Through these initial workshops and upskilling of staff and Wellbeing Champions as well the power of past and present players, we are hoping to create a safe and supported mental health network through rugby league.”
The next Wellbeing Waka will take place on the 11th of February, 2021 at Waikato Sport, Wintec Rotokauri Campus at 6:30pm, join us and Le Va for an important korero.
NZRL’s Wellbeing Waka is for boys and girls (12 – 18+) as well as parents.
The Waka is free of charge, kai will be provided.
Keep an eye out on NZRL’s channels for the Wellbeing Waka’s next destinations.
October 16, 2020
New Zealand Rugby League wishes to congratulate the following players selected in the NZRL Schools and NZRL Clubs teams who are set to face each other in the inaugural NZRL Schools v Clubs match on November 8th at Mt Smart Stadium.
The NZRL Schools v Clubs game will kick-off at 2 pm followed by the NZ Residents v NZ Māori Residents match at 4 pm. It’s a gold coin entry into Mt Smart on the day and thanks to Sky Sport both games will be televised live.
The NZRL Schools v Clubs match is the first of its kind and will act as a key development pathway for New Zealand 18 players.
For 2020, the New Zealand Schools team comprises of identified players from the Auckland Rugby League Secondary Schools competition as well as those registered in full-time study.
The New Zealand Clubs team consists of identified players who have competed in regional tournaments or a meaningful club competition in 2020.
Going forward, this inaugural fixture is set to stick as an annual event in which the New Zealand Schools team will comprise of players actively playing in the NZRL National Secondary school competition, and the New Zealand Clubs team will be selected from District, Zone and National Youth programmes.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the National Secondary School Competition and NZRL Youth tournament were cancelled for 2020; however, players identified in the New Zealand Resident 18s wider squad back in February make up the majority of the selections for this year.
NZRL GM of Football and High Performance, Motu Tony says; “This Schools v Clubs match is an important pathway going forward for our young and aspiring Kiwi talent. Although COVID has altered our selection process a bit for this year, it’s exciting to see this fixture come to light despite the pandemic setbacks.
“We have an impressive list of talented 18 players from up and down the country representing both the Schools and Clubs sides. This game presents our 18s with a great opportunity to showcase their skill and position themselves favourably for opportunities that may arise in 2021.”
NZRL congratulates the following players:
October 7, 2020
New Zealand Rugby League wishes to congratulate the following selected in the 2020 New Zealand Resident 16s squad who will face the New Zealand Māori Rugby League 17s on the 24th October at Rotorua International Stadium.
The fixture will be live-streamed on NZMRL and NZRL Facebook pages and will bring a close to Day One of the annual New Zealand Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) Tuakana Tournament.
17 players will be named from the below 19 to take the field on the day, congratulations to the following:
Head Coach – Phil Gordon (Akarana)
Asst Coach – Peter Butler (Mid Central)
Asst Coach – Alex Parker (Upper Central)
Manager – Clarissa Percival (Mid Central)
Head Trainer – Ben Collins (Akarana)
Asst Trainer – Clayton Amer (Wellington Rugby League)
NZMRL will select an U17s team from their Rangatahi Tournament just been which celebrated its 20th year over the weekend.
The highly successful NZMRL Rangatahi Tournament has provided a pathway for many young Kiwi players over recent years; 2020 NRL debutants Jordan Riki, Jackson Ferris and Matt Timoko have all previously played in the NZMRL Rangatahi Tournament.
In 2017, now Brisbane Bronco, Jordan Riki, captained the NZMRL U17s against NZ Resident 16s in a close game, where the NZ Resident 16s came away with the win 32 – 28.
John Devonshire, NZMRL Chairman says, “The 2020 season has been a huge challenge for all sectors across our code. To be able to stage a representative game for our elite players is awesome.
“We the NZMRL are happy to accommodate the NZRL in what we see as an exciting match up. We are very proud of our NZ Māori 17’s Rangatahi team and wish them well. It is one thing to play for your country, it is another to play for your people, kia kaha te tima Māori.”
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi Great, John Whittaker #485, who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer last night.
Whittaker, 70, was inducted as one of New Zealand Rugby League’s Legends of League in 2012 due to his outstanding career in the Black and White jersey which spanned 13 seasons, he was also named in New Zealand Rugby League’s Team of the Century.
Whittaker made his international debut for the Kiwis in 1970 and went on to earn 24 caps for the Kiwis including four World Cups. Despite suffering significant injuries in a motoring accident, he made a full recovery and was recalled in the early 1980s after two years out of the national side.
Following his Kiwis career, Whittaker – affectionately known as “Poppy” – played in the 1986 Pacific Cup representing his home country of Rarotonga.
His early playing days were with the Randwick club in Wellington, where he was a key contributor in multiple premierships from 1968, through to 1983. He earned a mammoth 73 caps for Wellington, rightfully classing him as one of Wellington Rugby League’s greatest ever players.
The father of two and grandfather of four will forever be known as a New Zealand Rugby League icon in which his legacy both on and off the field will continue to inspire many for generations to come.
May he rest in peace.
September 17, 2020
Mt Smart Stadium is set to host a jam-packed weekend of rugby league action as the inaugural NZRL Schools v Clubs (18s) match followed by an NZ Residents v NZ Māori Residents game have been scheduled for Sunday, November 8, following the Kiwi Ferns v Fetū Samoa Test the day prior.
The inaugural NZRL Schools v Clubs game (18s) will kick-off at 2 pm at Mt Smart followed by the NZ Residents v NZ Māori Residents match at 4 pm. Thanks to Sky Sport both games will be televised live.
The NZ Residents squad will consist of the best players from the NZRL National Men’s competition kicking off on October 3.
The last time the two met was in 2017 where the NZ Māori Residents came away with a 22 – 16 victory over the NZ Residents squad.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says; “To see our NZ Residents and NZ Māori Residents face each other once again is an exciting milestone, it will be a tough clash with plenty of passion and a great way to finish off a specular weekend of rugby league action at Mt Smart.
“The Residents selection is an important accolade and increases the standard of competition for our National Competition. This match will showcase New Zealand’s best grassroots talent from up and down the country, and it’s great to work with NZ Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) again to produce a quality rugby league event.”
NZMRL Chairman, John Devonshire, is delighted that a Māori Residents side will be taking on the NZ Residents in November.
“It is a win-win scenario for both organisations, and it’s great to see the two sides come up against each other. The NZRL premiership competition will take on extra meaning for the players and the ability for our tuakana tournament side to have a live match is awesome.
“The sides have played previously with a break last year due to the touring English side, a game where NZ Māori dominated with a solid victory. I always look forward to these games and more importantly, the opportunity for our players that support our tuakana tournament to put on the Māori jersey.”
The NZRL Schools v Clubs match set for a 2pm kick off prior to the Residents game, is the first of its kind and will act as a key development pathway for New Zealand 18 players.
This inaugural fixture is set to stick as an annual event in which the NZRL Schools team will comprise of players actively playing in the NZRL National Secondary school competition and the NZRL Clubs team selected from District, Zone and National Youth programmes.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the National Secondary School Competition and NZRL Youth tournament were cancelled for 2020; however, players identified in the NZRL wider squad for the New Zealand Resident 18s back in February will make up the majority of the selections for this year.
The New Zealand Schools team will be comprised of identified players from the Auckland Rugby League Secondary Schools competition as well as those registered in full-time study.
The New Zealand Clubs team will consist of identified players who have competed in a meaningful club competition in 2020.
Unfortunately, initial NZ 18s fixtures against England Academies and Fiji Schoolboys had to be called off due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
NZRL GM of Football and High Performance, Motu Tony says; “This Schools v Clubs match will act as an important pathway going forward for our young and aspiring Kiwi talent, so it’s great to see this fixture come to light even despite the COVID setbacks.
“We were disappointed the NZ18s fixtures had to be called off, but our talented 18 players are still able to get a run in what will hopefully develop into a staple calendar event for NZRL.
September 16, 2020
International rugby league is returning to New Zealand soil as the World Nines Champion Kiwi Ferns are set to take on Pacific rivals Fetū Samoa at 4pm on Saturday 7 November at Mt Smart Stadium.
A packed afternoon of women’s rugby league action celebrates the Kiwi Ferns’ 25th Anniversary year. Tonga will take on Niue at 2pm followed by the much anticipated Kiwi Ferns v Fetū Samoa Test in what will be the only New Zealand international Test match for 2020.
The Kiwi Ferns last faced Fetū Samoa in June 2019 where they came away with a convincing 34 -14 victory. The Ferns will be looking to assert further dominance heading towards the 2021 World Cup while the firey Fetū Samoa will be hungry for redemption.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says; “It is really exciting to see this Test come to light despite the COVID-19 setbacks throughout the year.
“What better way to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Kiwi Ferns than with a stand-alone women’s Test and an afternoon packed of women’s rugby league action. It reflects the exponential growth our female game has experienced, which is only continuing to grow.
“To have the only New Zealand international Test match for the year on home soil is great for the game and also our communities who have missed their fix of live rugby league action in 2020.”
The Ferns will take the field under the helm of new coach Ricky Henry who was recently announced as the Kiwi Ferns Head Coach through until the 2021 World Cup.
Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport with a 4pm kick-off.
NZRL will release further information re ticket on sale dates and prices in due course.
September 15, 2020
New Zealand Rugby League has appointed Ricky Henry as the new Kiwi Ferns Head Coach ahead of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The vastly experienced Henry takes on the role after coaching as an Assistant Coach on both the Kiwi Ferns and Vodafone Warriors Canterbury Cup teams for 2020.
Henry brings with him significant coaching experience having worked as the New Zealand Warriors Assistant Development Coach (2008) Warriors NRL Assistant Coach (2013-14) and Warriors Nines Head Coach (2014), and at a national level, the NZ 18s (2012) and NZ Maori (2016) Head Coach.
NZRL GM of High Performance, Motu Tony says; “Ricky’s appointment is a positive step forward in our preparations for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
“With Ricky assisting the Kiwi Ferns under previous Head Coach Justin Morgan; we are able to maintain the continuity and familiarity Ricky has with our Kiwi Ferns players and our female programme.
Ricky has an impressive list of coaching accolades and is well respected throughout our rugby league communities. It’s exciting to think what the Ferns under the helm of Ricky will be able to produce and we are delighted that he will be taking us to the World Cup next year.”
New Head Coach, Ricky Henry says; “It is a privilege to lead the Kiwi Ferns into the 2021 World Cup.”
“I am passionate about the long term success of Women’s Rugby League and building a strong foundation for the future. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to coach these elite women athletes as we work towards a World Cup victory come 2021.”
NZRL will be releasing further detail on an upcoming international fixture tomorrow.
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the NZRL National Competitions are back for 2020 and bigger than ever before with the inclusion of the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL National Women’s Premiership.
Thanks to the support of the NZ Government and Sport NZ, the NZRL Men’s and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership competitions will kick off October 3 and proceed over four weeks with both finals expected to take place the last weekend of October. Thanks to Sky Sport, all Premiership fixtures will be televised live on Sky Sport 4.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters said this is an exciting milestone for New Zealand’s grassroots game.
“Firstly, thank you to Sport NZ and the NZ Government, as the return of our National Competitions for 2020 would not have been possible without their significant support through COVID-19.
“Seeing the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL Women’s Premiership come to light on top of this is also a momentous achievement for our game.
“Previously, the women’s competition has been held as a tournament weekend, so having a four-week Premiership parallel to the men’s competition is an exciting milestone. This reflects the positive growth we are seeing in our women’s space, and with all fixtures being televised live on Sky Sport, this will only continue.
“Thank you to Martin Stewart and the team at Sky Sport for their ongoing and invaluable support. We look forward to seeing the best of our grassroots talent on display come October.”
Martin Stewart Sky CEO says, “Sky has a firm commitment to promoting and developing women’s sport at every level in New Zealand. We are delighted our skilled and passionate team is able to bring the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership to rugby league fans throughout New Zealand. We are so looking forward to seeing the athleticism and skills of our leading players live on Sky Sport and streamed on Sky Sport Now.”
The NZRL Championship competition, which is a tier below the premiership, will for the first time also feature a women’s draw. Both North Island Men’s and Women’s Championship competitions will take place between the 17th and 18th of October at Auckland’s Pulman Park with the finals expected to be played the same weekend as the Premiership finals.
The South Island Championship will take place over Labour Weekend in Timaru to which the South Island Champion will come up to Auckland to play the North Island Champion on the Premiership finals weekend.
NZRL will release further information regarding the Premiership and Championship finals fixtures in due course.
Please see below the 2020 Premiership and Championship draws (subject to change)
August 14, 2020
In light of this evening’s Covid-19 announcement, Auckland is remaining at Level 3 for an extended 12 days; therefore all rugby league activity (playing, contact and non-contact training) remains postponed until August 26th subject to ongoing Government updates.
Aucklanders are instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement. The area covered by Alert Level 3 is the Auckland Super City – from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south.
The remainder of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2 (excluding Auckland); therefore rugby league activity (training and playing) is permitted, ONLY if clubs and facilities can abide by strict health requirements below, until further notice.
These requirements include what ‘must’ be done, such as:
NZRL is in close dialogue with Government and Sport NZ and will provide further guidance regarding return to rugby league activity for Auckland when possible (subject to Government updates).
Thank you for your co-operation and understanding during this time.
August 13, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place across the Auckland region, all Auckland Rugby League games scheduled to be played during the August 14-16 round have been cancelled and will be treated as a ‘Washout Round’.
The ‘Washout Round’ means impacted games will not be rescheduled, with no competition points awarded for the round.
As it stands the Government has placed Auckland under Level 3 restrictions until at least midnight on Friday, August 14, and even if the alert level is lowered ARL CEO Greg Whaiapu said games will not take place this weekend.
“Given the strict COVID-19 protocols that need to be followed, there wouldn’t be enough time for clubs to ensure they have appropriate measures in place even if the alert level was lowered,” Whaiapu said.
“With that in mind we are making the call now because we feel it is in the best interests of everyone involved, regarding their health and safety.”
Updates on future rounds for all grades will be provided at a later date, pending further Government rulings and advice.
In the meantime, all rugby league activity in Auckland, including trainings and gatherings, is suspended.
NZRL is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to update you with the latest information.
We appreciate this is an unsettling time, however we remain vigilant and prepared to tackle this collectively once again.
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce two new director appointments have been made in Natasha Tere (Elected) and Paula Kearns (Appointed).
Tere boasts over 15 years of strategic and operational management experience and is passionate about sports administration.
Tere was on the Board of Canterbury Netball for eight years and Chairperson of the Canterbury Tactix. She brings a knowledge of Rugby league at a grassroots level and is driven to improve stakeholder engagement and cultural and social diversity.
Kearns also has notable governance experience including her current positions as an External Member of the Audit and Risk Committee Ministry for the Environment and Director and Chair of AFRC of Mount Wellington Trust Hotels Ltd and Keri Corporation Ltd. Additionally, she held previous positions with Ara Taiohi, NZ Football and Foundation North (previously ASB Community Trust).
NZRL Chair, Reon Edwards says, “We were very fortunate to receive a number of applications from quality people involved in business as well as the sport of rugby league. Both Natasha and Paula were stand out applicants who bring welcomed diversity and a vast range of skill sets to the table. They are an exciting addition to our Board.”
New Zealand Rugby League wishes to thank Vice-Chair Elizabeth Richards and Bill McEntee who have both retired from their roles as Board Directors.
NZRL also congratulate Reon Edwards on being re-elected as Chairman and Hugh Martin for being appointed as Vice Chairman.
The 2020 AGM also saw rugby league legend; Frank Morris Endacott ONZM awarded an NZRL Life Membership for his services to the game which spans six decades.
NZRL also wish to congratulate the following 2020 Distinguished Service Awards Recipients: John Peter Brimble, John Gary Clarke, Bill Liddell, Stanley Nicholas and Gary Whittle.
For more information about the recipients please click here.
The NZRL Board – Reon Edwards (Chair), Hugh Martyn (Vice), Tawera Nikau, Andrew Fraser, Grant Stapleton, Natasha Tere and Paula Kearns.
Current Life Members (alphabetical order): John Bray, Jim Campbell, John Coffey, Ray Cranch, Frank Morris Endacott, Cathy Friend, Allen Gore, Ray Haffenden, Don Hammond, Peter Kerridge, Sir Peter Leitch, Bud Lisle, Trevor Maxwell, Cameron McGregor, Sel Pearson, Gerald Ryan, Cherie Steele-Shanks, Howie Tamati, Kevin Tamati.
Congratulations to rugby league legend, Frank Morris Endacott ONZM on being awarded an NZRL Life Membership. Frank Endacott (known as “Happy Frank”) has been involved in the sport of Rugby League for over six decades spanning many roles and responsibilities from player, coach, selector, promoter and player agent.
A stand-off half who was strong both on attack and defence, Frank was seemingly poised for a glittering career at senior level when chosen as a New Zealand Schoolboy Kiwi in 1963. But when he married young, Frank hung up his boots and concentrated on supporting his family.
However, he soon swapped the boots for a clipboard and quickly cemented himself as one of New Zealand’s greatest and most successful coaches and selectors.
Endacott started coaching Canterbury provincial sides in New Zealand before becoming involved with the Auckland Warriors, coaching the reserve side in the club’s debut year in 1995 and top premier side in 1997 and 1998.
While coaching in Canterbury, Endacott led tours of both the Junior Kiwis and New Zealand Residents. He was appointed as head coach of the New Zealand national rugby league team in 1994 and continued in this role until the end of the 2000 season. His spell as head coach included two World Cups, in 1995 and 2000.
Endacott joined the Wigan Warriors in 1999 and in the year 2000 was named Super League’s Coach of the Year.
Frank is also a well-known player agent and as been renowned for his duty of care towards his players for the last 20 years.
On December 2006 Endacott was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, as part of the New Year Honours 2007.
To this day Frank is still involved in the game in his beloved Canterbury region and remains an invariably positive spokesperson for the sport of rugby league.
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates and thank Frank on his well-deserved recognition and years of dedication to the game of rugby league.
Justin Morgan has made the difficult decision to step away from his role as Head Coach of the Kiwi Ferns.
A change in work commitments has meant the availability of his time is no longer viable as the Ferns build towards a World Cup victory come 2021.
NZRL GM of High Performance, Motu Tony says: “Justin has done an exceptional job as Head Coach and has laid a strong foundation for the Ferns heading into World Cup year next year. It’s disappointing for us to see him step aside, however, we respect and fully understand his decision.”
NZRL thank Justin Morgan for his efforts as Head Coach guiding the Ferns to an impressive World Cup 9s championship and a convincing Test win against Fetu Samoa.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching these women, the talent within the Ferns camp is outstanding and we have built some exciting momentum as a group,” says Morgan.
“Unfortunately, circumstances change and with that in mind, it would be unfair of me to maintain my position. However, I’m fully confident this group will be able to capitalise on the groundwork we have already made and see success come 2021. It’s been a privilege and thank you to NZRL for the opportunity. ”
NZRL will be advertising for a new Head Coach role in due course.
The Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have today revealed the much-anticipated fixture schedule for what promises to be the biggest and best World Cup in the history of the sport, as the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams all compete at the same time in a major sporting first.
New Zealand’s men’s and women’s side will be competing in RLWC2021.
The full fixture list for New Zealand is as follows:
In June, it was revealed that New Zealand’s men’s and women’s sides will be using York as their team training base.
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for millions of fans around the world as we reveal the full fixture schedule.
“The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and global fans can now look forward to being part of this unique sporting event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify.
“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments.
“We can’t wait to welcome all our competing nations and their fans to England next autumn for the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.”
With 61 fixtures over a six-week period the tournament will showcase a festival of world class sporting action. The dates, venues and kick-off times for each of the three tournaments is now confirmed and available to view below and at www.RLWC2021.com
Please visit www.RLWC2021.com for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.
Thanks to the generosity of Sky Sport with support from OPRO and Steeden, NZRL is providing a starter pack to all kids (U6-U12) who register online to play Rugby League in 2020.
Those who register will receive a Sky Sports Starter Pack valued up to $70. This includes a Steeden Ball, OPRO Mouthguard, Kiwis and Ferns Poster and a handy bootbag. Kids who registered before the Covid-19 pandemic will also receive a Starter Pack.
NZRL staff have been working tirelessly behind the scenes packing thousands of bags that are being delivered across the country as we speak.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “We know how much of a challenging time this has been and we wanted to give back to the tamariki in our communities who are readying for a return to the field.
“Thank you to our valued partners Sky Sport, OPRO and Steeden, all providing quality equipment for the packs that will go a long way with those who receive them.
“We are excited for the much-anticipated return of rugby league this weekend. Thank you once again to all those in our rugby league communities for the patience and resilience shown throughout this period.”
Upper Central Zone Rugby League is seeking applicants for two Independent Directors and two Rugby League Knowledgeable Director (knowledge of and experience in the sport of Rugby League).
All board members need to understand confidentiality, work collaboratively, possess sound judgment, have good communication and be able to demonstrate leadership ability.
Candidates who have the skill sets set out below and who can bring an element of diversity, particularly gender, to the current board mix will be looked upon favourably by the Appointments Panel.
The Appointments Panel will be assessing candidates against a range of criteria, including but not limited to:
Time commitment and term
As a guide, we expect an average time commitment of 1 to 1.5 days each month per director.
We anticipate the roles starting immediately from 13 July 2020
Terms are four years, and directors are eligible for re-appointment for one further term.
To apply for this role please click here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MJSHKNH
The closing date for applications is 26 June 2020.
Wellington Rugby League is seeking applicants for two Independent Directors and one Rugby League Knowledgeable Director (knowledge of and experience in the sport of Rugby League).
As a guide, we expect an average time commitment of 1.5–2 days each month per director.
We anticipate the roles starting on appointment.
To apply for this role please click here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MJSHKNH
The closing date for applications is 19 June 2020.
Thanks to Innoway, NZRL are providing 1200 free hygiene packs to clubs nationwide as our rugby league communities prepare for a safe return to play come June 20th.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says, “We recognise the pressure our communities have been under to ensure their facilities adhere to all strict COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
“We thank our Zones, Districts and Clubs for the hard work that has already been undertaken and these packs hopefully provide a small bit of relief as well as a tick off the requirement list to ensure a safe return to the field as soon as possible.
“I’d like to thank Innoway for their generosity as well as all those in our rugby league community for their resilience and patience during this time and we look forward to the much-anticipated return of rugby league come the end of June.”
On Friday, May 29, New Zealand Rugby League will enter the ‘Prepare to Play’ phase for a minimum of three weeks, in light of yesterday’s announcement that gathering numbers permitted for grassroots sport will increase to 100 people come lunchtime Friday.
During the ‘Prepare to Play’ phase, rugby league contact and non-contact training is permitted only for clubs that can abide by the Government health and safety and gathering requirements.
Competition rugby league remains postponed during this three-week ‘Prepare to Play’ period as NZRL in liaison with the Zones and Districts aim to re-commence with competition rugby league on Saturday, June 20 (subject to change).
It is important to note the further three-week postponement of competitive rugby league provides time for players to condition their bodies from light training through to full contact, minimising risk of injury after a long hiatus, as player safety remains paramount.
NZRL also stresses the fact that clubs should not rush to return to training if they are not ready and continue to use this ‘Prepare to Play’ period to properly ensure their facility can abide by all mandatory health requirements.
These requirements include what ‘must’ be done such as contact tracing, physical distancing and hygiene and sanitation measures. Clubs will be provided with a checklist and supporting information to assist with the required return to play planning.
The ‘Prepare to Play’ period is the second phase of a three-phased approach return to rugby league; Get Ready, Prepare to Play and Return to Play. This approach is based on the Government recommendation of a considered return to community sport.
NZRL in liaison with the Zones and Districts will provide further update over the next three weeks regarding the final ‘Return to Play’ phase.
We thank you all for your continued understanding during this time and look forward to seeing our rugby league communities safely return to the field again soon.
Ever wondered how the Te Iwi Kiwi haka came about? Cultural Advisor Ora Kihi talks us through the meaning of the haka and why it has a special place in the hearts of all our Kiwis players, and their biggest supporters.
TE IWI KIWI HAKA WORDS
TUKUA TE KAWAU MARO
BATTLE FORMATION, PREPARE OF WAR,
NGA KIWI O TE AO
A call to all Kiwis of the world
Unleash the spirit within.
Prepare the post for our house.
The Maori Pou, indigenous people
Let the earth shake and ground rumble.
The Pou that links all cultures.
The God of War
TE OPE TAUA
Who is this war party
KO TE KAPA KIWI E
It is the Kiwi war party
TAU MAI TAKU MANA
I draw my power.
From the beginning of time
TAU MAI KO TE IHI
I draw my strength.
NO OKU TUPUNA
From my ancestors.
HIINEI TAKU WHARE
Here stands my House.
For I will defend it
The breath of LIFE.
NZRL is embarking on a financial modelling project to get a whole of code understanding of what the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been or may be on the sport as a whole. We want to have a much better understanding of this and particularly as it affects the grassroots game. Our priority is to work with our Zones and Districts to find the best ways to assist the sport recover as quickly as possible. This piece of work has kindly been funded by Sport NZ, and is supported by BDO.
There are a total of 26 questions (if all of them are answered). It would be useful to have your annual financial statements with you when you complete this, as well as having access to various balances at 30 April 2020. Please email your financial statements you are using to [email protected]
Whilst it may seem that some of the questions can be gathered from the financial statements we have requested, we have used this questionnaire to gather further detail that may not be broken out in all sets of annual financial statements. If you have any questions or need support with completing the survey, contact your district or zone in the first instance.
Please be assured that the strictest confidentiality will be maintained for the information you provide and it will only be used in a consolidated version that will not identify individual entities.
Your assistance with this is much appreciated and we hope the outcomes will enable us to bounce back quickly and more strongly.
Together in Rugby League.
CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE SURVEY – https://bit.ly/3gdCCvn
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #558 and Māori Rugby League great, Rick Muru.
The Huntly born prop was a legend of Taniwharau Rugby League Club, being named in the Taniwharau Team of the First 70 Years back in 2015. He played for Waikato and the New Zealand Māori, including at the 1975 and 1977 Pacific Cups.
In 1980 Muru was selected to play for the Kiwis on their tour of Great Britain and France which he played five games for New Zealand, scoring once.
He was a valued member of the New Zealand Rugby League community both at a grassroots and international level – his contribution to the game will not be forgotten.
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of former Kiwis Captain, Kiwi #503, Tony Coll.
West Coast second-row forward for 12 years, Coll played 65 games (including 30 tests) for the Kiwis between 1972 – 1982 as well three World Cups. He famously captained the 1977 Kiwis World Cup team to beat Australia.
Coll also had a brief spell in the Canterbury Rugby League competition, playing with Marist-Western Suburbs and representing Canterbury.
Coll went on to coach the West Coast in 1986 and 1987 and was made a New Zealand Rugby League “Legend of League” in 2007.
He was a valued member of the New Zealand Rugby League community and his contribution to the game will not be forgotten.
NZRL – Level 2 GET READY (final)
With New Zealand moving to Alert Level 2 tonight, New Zealand Rugby League stresses the fact this does not mean a return to rugby league activity yet.
NZRL asks the rugby league community to adhere to a ‘Get Ready’ period for a minimum of two weeks, subject to further government update on numbers permitted for grassroots sport.
This is in light of Sport NZ today confirming that the 10-person gathering limit now applies to all community sport.
With this in mind, there will be NO rugby league activity, training (contact and non-contact) or playing permitted during this ‘Get Ready’ period.
During the ‘Get Ready’ period we recommend clubs take the time to plan the measures that need to be taken to ensure their facility is able to prepare for a safe return to rugby league.
These measures include what ‘must’ be done such as contact tracing, physical distancing & hygiene and sanitation requirements. We will release further information on the mandatory requirements in the next 24 hours.
NZRL is looking at a three-phased approach return to rugby league:
This approach is based off the Government recommendation of a considered return to community sport and is supported by all six winter codes; Basketball, Football, Hockey, Netball and Rugby Union.
We will advise in due course when we can enter the ‘Prepare to Play’ phase and what this looks like in regards to training. Timings will be subject to government updates on numbers permitted for grassroots sport.
Once again, we thank you for your patience and understanding during this time and will provide further information on the phased approach in due course.
Ngariri Nuku Lee Waitokia from Eastern Eagles Rugby League club down in Christchurch has been recognised as a standout volunteer as part of Pirteks’ – Communities through Covid initiative.
Nuku is an invaluable volunteer of the Eastern Eagles rugby league club and a woman of many roles from team manager to committee member to Club Secretary. However, it is her most recent work during this time of uncertainty which deserves some special recognition.
The harsh unemployment realities of a country in lockdown due to Covid-19 were fast approaching, and it was clear the vulnerable families in lower-income areas would be impacted the most.
So Nuku along with the newly appointed Club President (Zion Taumiti) created a Covid-19 response team made up of coaches and managers from across the club. They created a survey for each player and their families asking what their situation and main concerns were during this time.
Nuku took on the responsibility of ensuring all the administration was complete concerning the club survey. She ensured every single player and their family members were included in a database and that their needs were categorised accordingly to allow the club to act efficiently with goods, services and support.
The database totalled 60 families with as least five or more in each family from infant to elderly, about three-quarters of those who responded to the club’s survey said they needed more food and were feeling isolated.
Without her organisation, the club would not have been in a position to do the important family drops that covered all areas of Christchurch. Eastern Eagles rugby league club distributed family packages to about 30 families over 30 over Easter, which included colouring in sets and easter eggs.
“This is what Pirtek loves about Rugby League and the Rugby League community. There are always people that will go out of their way to help others, people that take a selfless approach to life in general,” says Pirtek General Manager Chris Bourke.
“In times like these, its great people like Nuku, along with Zion and the Eastern Eagles Rugby League Club, that stand out to support the community and do this without the expectation of recognition. They are simply there to help others in the Rugby League family and beyond.
“Nuku is a well deserved recipient of the Pirtek Communities Through COVID Award. Congratulations.”
Nominate someone you feel deserves some recognition here – https://nzrl.co.nz/community/ourcommunitiesthroughcovid/
Each person nominated will go in the draw to win a Kiwis merchandise prize package. NZRL in liaison with Pirtek will promote some of the best nominations on NZRL channels.
While the New Zealand Government’s announcement on guidelines for COVID-19 Alert Level 2, for if and when it is announced that the country will move to this level, is a positive step NZRL remains vigilant in the fight against the global pandemic with the health and safety of our communities remaining the number one priority.
As it stands we are still in COVID-19 Alert Level 3, therefore all rugby league activity (training or playing) remains suspended until further notice.
Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, sporting activity can re-commence but only if strict public health and hygiene measures are in place.
NZRL, like other codes, will take the time to prepare and ensure all measures and systems are in place for a safe and structured return to play for our communities, when appropriate.
It is crucial we take the time to get this right, so New Zealand’s hard work is not at risk of being undone, and our communities feel safe and secure to play our game again.
NZRL will provide further information in due course regarding what rugby league looks like at Alert Level 2 as well as return to play timelines. What is absolutely clear is that will not be immediately following any announcement by the Government to move to Alert Level 2.
We thank you all for your patience and understanding during this time.
Primary focus on clubs and regional organisations with $15m Community Resilience Fund
Sport NZ has created a $25 million package to provide further short-term relief for organisations at all levels of sport and active recreation. The funds have been made available through savings achieved from the reprioritisation of Sport NZ’s work programme in the wake of COVID-19, as well as the drawing down on cash reserves.
Today’s announcement follows an initial package of support for Sport NZ and High-Performance Sport NZ partners announced in early April. This provided financial certainty for National Sport and Recreation Organisations, Regional Sport Trusts others, with funding commitments totalling $70 million per annum. Partners were provided with flexibility on how these funds could be used to reflect the challenging circumstances resulting from COVID-19 through until 30 June 2021.
The second tranche of support announced today has a focus on providing relief for struggling local and regional sport and recreation organisations. This relief will be provided via a $15m Community Resilience Fund.
“Play, active recreation and sport have a key role in maintaining individual health and wellbeing, bringing our communities together and keeping these communities strong,” says Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin.
“It is vital that organisations at all levels of our sector remain viable and are there when play, active recreation and sport can fully resume, and we believe we have structured this relief package in a way that will maximise its benefit at all levels of the sector for the greatest possible good.”
“Clubs and regional organisations are the heartbeat of our sector but have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, particularly through the loss of Class 4 gaming revenue and membership fees and they need support now more than ever,” says Peter Miskimmin.
The Sport NZ Community Resilience Fund opens on Monday 11 May and will be administered through New Zealand’s 14 regional sports trusts due to the strength of their networks deep into their local sport and recreation communities. Eligible organisations can apply for a maximum of $1,000 for clubs and $40,000 for regional bodies.
Also included in Sport NZ’s $25 million relief package are:
Further details on these three funds will be announced over the coming weeks.
Sport NZ also continues to provide expert business capability support to its partners in areas such as finance, human resources and technology, as well as providing free employee wellbeing services and support in accessing the Government’s COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.
More information on new $25 million short-term relief package and Sport NZ’s wider response to COVID-19 is available at sportnz.org.nz.
Community Resilience Fund Factsheet
Check out our new Official NZ Kiwis Playlist!
This playlist is a compilation of our player’s favorite songs during the COVID lockdown period. Make sure to give it a follow.
Alistar Kata talked to Clinical Psychologist Dr Elizabeth Mati about how our Pacific people can stay mentally well during lockdown.
-For more information on Le Va’s #CatchYourself initiative: https://www.leva.co.nz/our-work/catchyourself
-Make sure you’re staying up to date with the Government’s Covid-19 information here: https://covid19.govt.nz/
-For more information on looking after your mental wellbeing: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/
Due to the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to advise that all NZRL run representative competitions and tournaments have been called off for the remainder of the year.
Community and Club competitions and trainings are still currently postponed until May 2 with that date to be reviewed in due course.
Due to the current uncertain revenue lines, these representative competitions would place too big of a financial burden on the Zones. International rugby league has also been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and NZRL has ceased all non-essential expenditure.
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, “We are extremely disappointed that these competitions will not happen in 2020, but unfortunately, it was a decision that had to be made for the financial longevity of our game.
“Due to the extensive consequences of this pandemic across the code, we have had to make some significant short term sacrifices in order to see the game thrive long after this virus is contained.
“The impact and influence rugby league has is felt widespread both on and off the field. Although unprecedented, this decision was made fully with the longevity of our game in mind and the important role it plays within our communities.”
NZRL will provide a further update on club and community competitions in due course. Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, the focus will be on getting the grassroots game operating as quickly as possible.
Due to the COVID-19 international pandemic, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to inform that the Oceania Cup International Test matches scheduled for June between the Kiwis and Tonga Invitational XIII and the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa have been postponed.
We appreciate this is an unprecedented step being taken for international rugby league; however, due to the current travel restrictions, self-isolation requirements, and restrictions on mass gatherings, the decision has been made to cancel.
NZRL is in discussions with the APRLC (Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation) regarding potential postponement options and will continue to liaise with industry bodies, government agencies and playing groups to determine the best course of action going forward.
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO said these are unprecedented measures that had to be taken.
“With the recent announcement on mass gatherings and the unpredictability of this pandemic, the safety and well-being of our players, staff and supporters remain a priority. We are also very conscious of the current demand on some of our players due to the travel restrictions in place which we will be taking into full consideration going forward.
“Even if restrictions were to be lifted before the event date, it still is not feasible to undertake the work required now to deliver matches in June amid the current uncertainty. The best-case scenario is our calendar is postponed, depending on what the NRL season looks like the back end of the year, but of course, we cannot guarantee anything at this stage.
“We are in unfamiliar and unknown territory; collectively, we are all feeling the widespread impact of this pandemic but rest assured, we will be exploring every possible option.”
Due to the ongoing safety concerns regarding the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to advise that all community rugby league competitions, tournaments and trainings run by NZRL Zones, Districts and Clubs have been postponed until Saturday, May 2nd, effective immediately.
Given the fast-changing situation, these guidelines and advice are subject to change.
Fo now, restrictions do not prevent clubs from operating on their facilities, however we urge clubs to adhere to Ministry of Health regulations in this regard; these include:
We are continuously liaising with government agencies and will continue to update you with the latest information.
We appreciate this is an unprecedented step being taken for community rugby league; however, this decision has been made solely with the safety and wellbeing of our players, staff, volunteers, whanau and the wider community in mind.
We understand this is an unfamiliar time for us all, but rest assured we are doing all we can to ensure our communities remain safe so we can return to play as soon as possible. NZRL thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through this together over the coming weeks.
New Zealand Rugby Leagues Upper Central Zone chairperson, Megan Cleverley, is pleased to announce the signing of Midland Scaffolding & Rigging as a major sponsor for the Zone effective from April 1, 2020, through to March 31, 2021, with full rights to renew for a further one year term.
Midland Scaffolding is a Waikato Bay of Plenty based company headed by their Managing Director, Leonard “Chippy” Hunter.
“Having the opportunity to support the game of Rugby League in my local community has been an easy decision. The majority of my staff all support Rugby League so this also allows them to give a little bit back to the game,” said Hunter.
“After meeting with the Upper Central Zones Operations Manager, Hamana Amoamo, and hearing their vision to create opportunities for all our kids to wear a representative jersey, I didn’t hesitate to jump on board.”
Another huge positive for the Zone, Chippy is the father of well know local, national and international sporting identity, Honey Hireme Smiler.
Honey has agreed to become the Rugby League Ambassador for the Upper Central Zone which will add further benefits by providing guidance and advice to rugby league players, especially for the girls and young women, within the region who aspire to achieve at the level that Honey has.
“I have played a lot of sport within the Waikato Bay of Plenty area so to be able to join with my dad in supporting the aims of the Upper Central Zone in providing pathways for our youth, is a huge honor and a privilege for me. I look forward to working with everyone involved to make a difference in our communities”
Zone Chair Megan Cleverley is ecstatic that Midland Scaffolding & Rigging have decided to support the game.
“With Chippy and his company on board, this will enable us to offer children who would not normally get the chance to represent their whanau and region to take part in national tournaments.
And to have Honey agree to become our Ambassador is just the icing on the cake, we are very grateful to both Chippy and Honey”
“This partnership will remove part of the burden for families having to fund the travel and associated costs. We are extremely grateful to Chippy and look forward to working with him to benefit the community as a whole,” Cleverly concluded.
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #443 Robert Orchard.
Orchard originally played for Ngongotaha and represented Bay of Plenty. In 1967 Orchard moved to the Ellerslie club in the Auckland Rugby League competition and became an Auckland representative. In 1968, Auckland defeated Canterbury 29-15 during Queen’s Birthday weekend.
He played for the New Zealand Māori side in 1972.
In 1973 Orchard moved to Queensland and represented the state, playing two games against New South Wales. While in Queensland, Orchard spent time with Redcliffe, Mt Isa, Mackay and Wynnum-Manly.
Orchard first represented New Zealand while at Bay of Plenty in 1965 against Great Britain and France (3-matches). He again played for the Kiwis in 1966 against Great Britain and, while at Auckland, in 1967 against Australia (2-matches), in 1970 against Great Britain (3-matches), in 1971 against Australia, Great Britain (3-matches), and France (3-matches), and in 1972 against Australia.
His contribution to New Zealand Rugby League will not be forgotten.
Brandon Smith stamped himself as a player to watch in 2020 with a stunning two-try performance to lead the New Zealand Maori to a stunning 30-16 come-from-behind victory over the Indigenous All Stars on the Gold Coast.
The Kiwi Test hooker, who plays understudy to 400-game legend Cameron Smith at the Melbourne Storm, showed his time in the shadows is clearly over with a spirited effort to snatch at Cbus Super Stadium.
Smith used his power and speed to barge through a tired Indigenous defensive line in the 70th minute, with Kalyn Ponga’s successful conversion putting the Maori ahead after they fell behind 16-12 just before three-quarter time.
Smith almost sealed the game three minutes later with another strong surge, but was denied by the bunker for a double movement.
But there was no doubting his match sealer in the 75th minute when the diminutive ball-runner burrowed between defenders to again score next to the uprights.
On a night when all eyes were on Indigenous fullback Latrell Mitchell it was Smith who stole the show as the Maori scored three tries in the final 10 minutes to run out comprehensive victors.
Smith would’ve had a hat-trick if not for Mitchell’s brilliant defence in the 56th minute.
Smith busted through the middle of the defensive line from 20 metres out and with only Mitchell to beat he tried to muscle his way past the towering fullback only to be brought down five metres short of the tryline.
Smith finished the game with 175 metres from 13 runs, five tackle breaks and four line breaks in what will be a difficult performance to top for a hooker in 2020.
Mitchell’s frustrations got the better of him with four minutes remaining when he dumped opposing fullback Ponga on the ground after the kick-off.
Not to be outdone by Smith, Indigenous lock David Fifita produced his own All Stars power moment that looked to put his team within reach of victory.
The Brisbane forward used last year’s All Star clash in Melbourne to announce his arrival on the big stage and in 2020 he repeated the effort coming up with what seemed to be the game-breaking play.
Fifita busted through two defenders on his own 20-metre line to sprint clear and then draw Ponga for flying centre James Roberts to sprint the final 40 metres to give the Indigenous team a 16-12 lead for the first time in the game.
Fifita finished with 142 metres from 12 runs and his tackle-breaking ability made him a real handful for the Maori.
While there were no headline attacking moments for Mitchell in his 67 minutes of action, there were enough glimpses of something to suggest he will be a handful in the Souths No.1 jersey in 2020.
His trademark strong fend left defenders in his wake but it became obvious from just his first game at the back opposing teams will kick the ball away from him at every opportunity to avoid facing him with a full head of steam on the kick return.
He almost produced one of the more magical moments of the night on one of the few chances to return the ball in the 26th minute, with a deft behind-the-back flick pass that would’ve given Josh Addo-Carr a 70-metre sprint to the tryline if the Storm winger had not fumbled the offload.
Addo-Carr was in everything, opening the game with a poignant moment when he lifted his jersey and pointed at his bare chest during the war cry, evoking memories of AFL Indigenous legend Nicky Winmar’s iconic gesture at Victoria Park in 1993.
Adam Blair created his own piece of history by becoming the first player to use the captain’s challenge system, however his call on a Kenny Bromwich knock on in the 65th minute was ruled unsuccessful by the bunker.
Blair finished the game by converting Dylan Walker’s final minute try as the Maori enjoyed revenge over the Indigenous outfit from last year.
By Todd Balym – As seen on NRL.com
Indigenous All Stars winger Nakia Davis-Welsh turned in a blinder to inspire a 10-4 win over the Maori Ferns after a triumphant return to the team she debuted for as a 16-year-old.
With the scores locked at 4-all in the final quarter, captain Tallisha Harden leapt high to catch a mid-field bomb by halfback Jenni-Sue Hoepper.
Davis-Welsh showed great alertness to support and then put the afterburners on to leave the Maori defenders clutching at air to score the match-winner..
Earlier Davis-Welsh had set up the first try with a freakish offload and saved a crucial try with a crunching one-on-one tackle.
The Maori started on fire and soon posted the first try when powerhouse centre Kerehitina Matua barged over early from a slick ball from half Sarina Fiso Clark.
An outstanding kicking game by Indigenous All Stars halfback Hoepper early helped her side get some repeat sets. The Maori defended with gusto and repelled several charges at their line and it took a piece of individual brilliance to crack them.
Davis-Welsh, from close range, beat five players before slipping a magic ball in traffic to dynamic centre Steph Mooka who scored wide out to level it up at 4-all at quarter time.
Indigenous five-eighth Simone Smith kicked and regathered twice to fire her side’s second quarter attack. Maori fullback Botille Vette-Welsh was placed on report for a shoulder charge on Indigenous centre Rhiannon Revell-Blair in the 20th minute as the Indigenous women made another raid.
The Maori were their own worst enemies with numerous handling errors but they scrambled well in defence with several last-ditch tackles saving the day.
A try saver by Davis-Welsh on her opposite number Kiana Katairangi was the big play of the third quarter as the teams went to the final change locked at 4-all.
Maori five-eighth Raecene McGregor had some nice touches throughout with her strategic kicking game always a threat.
Indigenous fullback Shakiah Tungai showed great bravery to defuse several kicks and the left the field early in the final quarter with a shoulder injury after being crunched by Maori prop Harata Butler.
It was left to Davis-Welsh, courtesy of a flying leap by her captain, to ice the cake for the Indigenous All Stars in a performance that showcased why she is one of the world’s most exciting outside backs in the women’s game.
Indigenous All Stars coach Ben Jeffries praised Davis-Welsh and said “I am pretty proud of her and show she has come back”.
“Obviously she’s had a pregnancy and given birth. [To play so well] is probably to be expected, because of her experience, but to do that on a big stage is very well played,” he said.
Indigenous All Stars captain Tallisha Harden said the flying winger was a real pro.
“Off the field she is real energetic and loves to have fun. On the field she is so cool calm and collected,” Harden said.
“Her family has come up and made the trip. I knew she was going to have a big game today.”
By Joel Gould – As seen on NRL.com
CCL:REVERA TDP PRESENTATION
Following on from the presentation made by CCL:Revera Director Rik Rogers at the 2020 NZRL Development camp in January, for those who would be interested in looking at a career in IT, please see below contact details should you have any queries.
This is a great opportunity to be part of an industry that is the way of the future.
Richard Maguire – [email protected]
Amy Downes – [email protected]
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is pleased to announce, OPRO, the producer of the world’s most technically advanced mouthguard, is now the official mouthguard supplier of New Zealand Rugby League.
As part of the three-year agreement, OPRO will provide every single registered player in New Zealand between the ages of 6 – 12 with a free Snap-Fit mouthguard; their entry level mouthguard that received the Queen’s Award for Innovation.
OPRO will also be the official mouthguard supplier for the World Number 1 Ranked Kiwis, World Nines Champions Kiwi Ferns and the Junior Kiwis for their international campaigns, supplying each representative player with a fitted mouthguard.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, said: “We are delighted to enter into a long-term relationship with such a trusted and quality brand such as OPRO.
“Their calibre of clients speaks for itself and we are extremely grateful for their generosity and what they are providing, not only our rugby league communities at a grassroots level but also our high-performance athletes as we set sight on the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.”
OPRO Sports Marketing Director, Daniel Lovat added: At OPRO, we’re passionate about fostering safe sport from grassroots to the elite level. As Rugby League’s number one ranked nation, we’re excited to help NZRL continue to achieve excellence into the future by providing every single player between the age of 6 and 12 with one of our award-winning mouthguards.”
The Sky Sport Rugby League Roadshow will be travelling Aotearoa this year to bring the great game of rugby league to your region.
This joint initiative between Sky Sport, New Zealand Rugby League and the Vodafone Warriors aims to make noise in the local communities about the game of rugby league and overall, encourage new player registrations.
The Roadshows will provide local league clubs with an opportunity to have a presence at each activation to connect more directly with members of the community and find their future players.
The first four Roadshows will take place on the local beach, with music, food, fun games, opportunities to learn football skills, run drills, play Kiwi Tag and rub shoulders with some of the game’s greats.
There will be plenty of giveaways and spot prizes to win on the day, as well as the chance to win a meet and greet with the Kiwis and Ferns at this year’s mid-year June test.
In addition to this, Kiwi League Kids (12 and under) who register with a club will later receive a Sky Sport starter pack which includes a brand new OPRO mouthguard, Kiwi / Ferns poster, rugby league ball and ball bag.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, says: “We all want to see our local rugby league talent thrive and represent New Zealand at an international level.
“The community game is critical to the future of rugby league in New Zealand and we are aiming to shine a spotlight on this as the new 2020 season approaches. The Roadshow also provides us with an opportunity to identify where there’s potential for more rugby league opportunities.
“It’s exciting that we can do this as a collective with the Warriors and Sky Sport while also giving our zones, districts and local league clubs the chance to be involved.”
Gisborne | Gisborne Sound Shell | Thursday 6th February | From 12:00pm
Whakatane | Mahy Reserve | Friday 7th February | From 4pm
Mt Maunganui | Tay St Beach Reserve | Saturday 8th February | From 10am
Whitianga | Moewai Sports Park | Sunday 9th February | From 10am
The next Roadshow locations to be confirmed in due course.
Maori All Stars coach David Kidwell has selected an imposing pack to lock horns with the talented Indigenous team at Cbus Super Stadium on February 22.
The Maori side shouldn’t lack go-forward with Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Adam Blair, Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, James Tamou, Kevin Proctor, Briton Nikora, Zane Tetevano and Corey Harawira-Naera among an elite crop of big men chosen.
“We wanted to have a bit of a narrative about being powerful, fast and dynamic. I think the team reflects that,” Kidwell told NRL.com.
The backline packs plenty of punch too. The dazzling Kalyn Ponga will play his natural position of fullback after struggling to impose himself on the game at five-eighth last year in a 34-14 loss.
“I think that’s where he plays his best footy, he can sweep both sides of the field, he can inject himself where he needs to,” Kidwell said of Ponga.
“Touching on that forward pack, he can sniff around for the offload. Talking to him, he’s really excited. He doesn’t have to worry about leading the team around.”
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Bailey Simonsson appear as the likely wingers, while Dylan Walker, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Brad Takairangi and Esan Marsters are centre options.
Marsters, who had off-season ankle surgery, is in doubt to play and discussions with the Cowboys medical staff about his fitness are ongoing.
Given Benji Marshall made himself unavailable for Maori selection to prepare for the upcoming NRL season with Wests Tigers, Jahrome Hughes and Kodi Nikorima will combine in the halves.
Brandon Smith and the experienced Issac Luke will share the hooking duties.
Raiders duo Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Joseph Tapine were initially named but were withdrawn.
Kidwell, who has taken over the coaching duties from Stacey Jones, is elated to be involved with such a special fixture and believes his troops can match the Indigenous team in the entertainment stakes.
“We’re going to play a bit of an expansive style of football. I thought the Indigenous team, with the experience of having played it for nine years, really caught us off guard last year.
“It’s a different concept, it’s a different way of playing football … [But] you still have to execute and have a high completion rate, so it’s about finding that balance.”
Kidwell hasn’t settled on a captain but he said incumbent skipper Adam Blair “epitomises what the week’s about.”
He added: “I’ve got some great leaders there and we’ll talk about who’s going to captain the side. But whoever does, it’s going to be a great honour.”
Kidwell considered results from an online fan poll before settling on his final squad.
In the women’s All Stars clash the star-studded Maori side will feature Kiwi Ferns Krystal Rota, Raecene McGregor and Kiana Takairangi as well as Jillaroos Corban McGregor and Botille Vette-Welsh.
Playmaker McGregor was part of the Brisbane side which stormed to victory in the NRLW grand final last October, scoring a try in the 30-6 triumph.
After playing second fiddle to McGregor in the NRLW decider, Dragons youngster Maddison Weatherall will line up alongside the Broncos star for the Maoris.
Coached by Rusty Matua the side features 10 players with NRLW experience.
Maori Women’s All Stars: Harata Butler, Sarina Clark, Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell, Laishon Jones, Amber Kani, Kerehitina Matua, Raecene McGregor, Corban McGregor, Capri Paekau, Krystal Rota, Christyl Stowers, Kiana Takairangi, Jonsal Tautari, Botille Vette-Welsh, Maddison Weatherall, Geneva Webber, Kathleen Wharton, Kat Wira-Kohu.
Troy Whittaker – NRL.com
NRL.com has compiled a women’s Team of the Decade after input from key figures in the game including the likes of current Jillaroos coach Brad Donald, Channel Nine commentator Jo Barrett and Ladies Who League’s Mary Konstantopoulos.
The list consists of 11 Australian internationals, five Kiwi Ferns representatives and one England international.
The next decade of women’s rugby league is set to be even bigger with the 2021 World Cup kicking off at least three major international events over the next 10 years.
Contenders: Lindsay Anfield (England), Sam Bremner (Australia), Sarina Clark (New Zealand), Jodie Cunningham (England), Apii Nicholls (New Zealand)
Winner: Sam Bremner (Australia)
Australian outside back Sam Bremner edged New Zealand’s Sarina Clark (nee Fiso) for the fullback spot. A dominant 2013 World Cup campaign on debut for the Jillaroos landed her in the team of the tournament. The 28-year-old has gone on to become one of the game’s dominant players.
Bremner’s recent seasons have been hampered by injuries. She also gave birth to her first child Reef in 2019, missing all of last year’s women’s calendar as a result.
Despite that, she remained at the top of most judges lists for the coveted No.1 jersey.
Contenders: Chelsea Baker (Australia), Karina Brown (Australia), Sarina Clark (New Zealand), Amy Hardcastle (England), Hilda Mariu (New Zealand), Atawhai Tupaea (New Zealand)
Winners: Sarina Clark (New Zealand) and Amy Hardcastle (England)
Sarina Clark (nee Fiso) missed out on the fullback spot but was included on the wing given the selection dilemma around her dual battle with Bremner. Clark represented the Kiwi Ferns for more than a decade before falling pregnant prior to the 2017 World Cup.
Rated as one of the finest players in the women’s game, Clark returned to play at the elite level for the Warriors in their 2018 NRLW campaign.
England’s Amy Hardcastle nabbed the other wing spot after an impressive 10-year period that looks set to continue into the 2021 World Cup.
Despite being considered more of a centre, Hardcastle scored a treble against New Zealand at the 2013 World Cup to solidify herself as one of the more consistent finishers in the game. She was too good to leave out.
Contenders: Maitua Feterika (New Zealand), Natalie Gilmour (England), Honey Hireme-Smiler (New Zealand), Jenni-Sue Hoepper (Australia), Isabelle Kelly (Australia), Amelia Kuk (Papua New Guinea), Jessica Sergis (Australia).
Winners: Honey Hireme-Smiler (New Zealand) and Isabelle Kelly (Australia)
A dominant pair of centres chosen with Kiwi Ferns legend Honey Hireme-Smiler and Australia’s Isabelle Kelly edging a number of other worthy candidates.
Hireme-Smiler, 38, remains one of the biggest names in women’s rugby league with four World Cup campaigns under her belt and showing no signs of slowing down.
She was named player of the tournament in 2013 and went on to back up her efforts to lead the try-scorers list with 13 tries in four games at the 2017 event.
Kelly, who burst onto the scene in 2017, has enjoyed a stellar rise to the top in quick succession with her performances at the state and international level earning her the highest of accolades.
The 2018 Golden Boot winner was judged the world’s best player after her two-try heroics in the 2017 World Cup final win over New Zealand.
Contenders: Ali Brigginshaw (Australia), Jodie Cunningham (England) Georgia Hale (New Zealand), Laura Mariu (New Zealand), Karyn Murphy (Australia), Rona Peters (New Zealand).
Winners: Ali Brigginshaw (Australia) and Karyn Murphy (Australia)
Australian pair Ali Brigginshaw and Karyn Murphy are the halves. Both players enjoyed periods of dominance in green and gold.
Brigginshaw remains one of the game’s best players and was well supported by Murphy up until her retirement in 2014.
Murphy was enormous as captain for the Jillaroos in their 2013 World Cup win, while Brigginshaw was judged best player on the paddock in the 2017 final against New Zealand.
Contenders: Elsie Albert (Papua New Guinea), Heather Ballinger (Australia), Stephanie Hancock (Australia), Aieshaleigh Smalley (New Zealand), Simaima Taufa (Australia), Elianna Walton (Australia).
Winners: Stephanie Hancock (Australia) and Simaima Taufa (Australia)
Another pair of Australians lock up the front-row positions in a hotly contested field.
Brisbane Broncos prop Steph Hancock is almost an automatic choice after a dominant career in the middle.
Hancock made her Jillaroos debut in 2003 and played her 20th Test in 2018 against New Zealand.
She’s joined by NSW prop Simaima Taufa, who made her Jillaroos debut in 2014 and went on to win the Dally M medal three years later. Taufa is rated one of the game’s most consistent forwards.
Contenders: Brittany Breayley (Australia), Nat Dwyer (Australia), Lois Forsell (England), Rona Peters (New Zealand), Krystal Rota (New Zealand)
Winner: Nat Dwyer (Australia)
A rich decade of talent in the hooking role with New Zealand’s Krystal Rota providing consistency and Brittany Breayley claiming Dally M medal winner in 2018.
However, despite Nat Dwyer’s career peak probably arriving in the previous decade, she was too hard to leave out.
Starting her career in the outside backs before moving to the No.9 jersey, the sharp and creative Dwyer was part of the victorious 2013 World Cup campaign before announcing her retirement.
The player of the under 18s State of Origin annual fixture wins the Nat Dwyer Medal.
Contenders: Kezie Apps (Australia), Teuila Fotu-Moala (New Zealand), Renae Kunst (Australia), Emily Rudge (England), Ruan Sims (Australia), Kathleen Wharton (New Zealand).
Winners: Teuila Fotu-Moala (New Zealand) and Renae Kunst (Australia)
New Zealand powerhouse Teuila Fotu-Moala and retired Jillaroo Renae Kunst edge another field of strong contenders for positions in the second row.
Fotu-Moala, who was the first player suspended in the NRLW last season playing for St George Illawarra, has played in 14 Tests for the Kiwi Ferns and was part of the international side’s that lost the World Cup finals to Australia in 2013 and 2017.
Fotu-Moala was named player of the 2017 World Cup ahead of the likes of Ali Brigginshaw and Honey Hireme-Smiler.
A strong edge runner, Kunst joins Fotu-Moala in the back row after a respectful career that included captaining the Jillaroos in 2008.
Kunst retired in 2017 following the Jillaroos’ 23-16 win in the World Cup final.
Contenders: Georgia Hale (New Zealand), Laura Mariu (New Zealand), Tahnee Norris (Australia), Rona Peters (New Zealand)
Winner: Tahnee Norris (Australia)
Another case of perhaps the decade earlier having an impact here but there’s no questioning Tahnee Norris’s influence on the women’s game. Norris, like Murphy and Dwyer, was coming towards the end of her career but played a huge role in the 2013 World Cup campaign.
Kezie Apps (Australia)
NSW captain Kezie Apps went narrowly close to earning a starting spot with her inclusion on the bench well-deserved. Apps made her international debut with the Jillaroos in 2014 and went on to win the Dally M medal two seasons later.
Apps was among one of the best players in the 2017 World Cup final against New Zealand and continues to lead from the front at club and state level in Australia.
Laura Mariu (New Zealand)
Recently retired utility Laura Mariu earns a spot after a long career that spanned throughout the recent decade.
Mariu played in a record five World Cup campaigns for New Zealand between 2000 and 2018 before retiring at the end of the Warriors’ NRLW season.
She finished her career in the halves after starting out in the pack.
Heather Ballinger (Australia)
Recently retired Australian forward Heather Ballinger rounds out the 17 after an illustrious career for Queensland and in the green and gold.
She made her Jillaroos debut in 2011 and was part of the side’s World Cup campaigns in 2013 and 2017.
A no-nonsense forward, Ballinger is a member of the Federal Police away from the paddock.
Her combination with Hancock and Kunst in Queensland’s line-up helped form a dominant period for the Maroons until recent times.
The NZRL Development U18s took on the Vodafone Warriors 18s to mark the final day of the CCL: Revera Talent Development Camp for 2020 at St Peters College in Cambridge.
Big defensive efforts on display by both teams to kick off the match, but it was the Warriors that got first points on the board as centre Jeremiah Asi dives under the post off the back of a high ball. The Warriors wasted no time following up with back to back to tries to Carl Lolohea and Tea-Rani Woodman-Tuhoro making it 12 – 0 after ten minutes.
NZRL 18s found some momentum after forcing a repeat set, a long ball to winger Jeremiah MarGraff put NZRL on the board with the score 12 – 4 at the end of the first quarter.
Warriors hit straight back in the second quarter with a try down the right edge to winger Zyon Maiu’u. NZRL soon responded as Manaia Ngataki-Matthews set up Ethan Faitaua to cross for NZRL’s second, score 16 – 8.
Rawiri Matthews extended the lead for the Warriors but NZRL quickly hit back with what looked like a spectacular try in the corner but it was not to be as the touch judge called out, the score remains 20 – 8 at half time.
NZRL start the second half was some big defensive efforts but it was the Warriors that managed to cross first taking the score to 24 – 8. Zyon Maiu’u then showed his speed down the left edge crossing over for his second bringing the score to 28 – 8.
The Warriors then extended their lead yet again off another impressive running set, shortly after Zyon Maiu’u steamrolled over for his third for the day making it 34 – 8 at the end of the third quarter, all momentum with the Warriors U18s.
Vaka Sikahele opened the scoring for the Warriors in the fourth quarter bumping off defenders to put it down under the sticks 38 – 8.
NZRL Development squad then found some momentum through the middle after a great offload from Jareny Proctor-Harwood who set up a runaway try to Riley Pascoe, score now 38 – 12.
Soon after Montel Peppard brushed off defenders to give speedster Matua Robinson a 50m run to the try line gifting NZRL their fourth try, however, the Warriors dot it down one last time before the siren making the full-time score 42 – 16.
In the end, the Vodafone Warriors 18s were too good for the NZRL Development 18s, however, players from both teams will be selected for the NZRL U18s wider squad set to be announced in the next three weeks.
There was not a cloud in the sky at St Peters College in Cambridge as the NZRL Development U16s took on the Vodafone Warriors 16s to mark the final day of the CCL: Revera Talent Development Camp for 2020.
The NZRL Development squad kicked off the points scoring with a runaway try down the right edge to Akarana centre Tre Fotu off the back of some dominant meters by the NZRL forward pack.
Handling errors by both teams saw key scoring opportunities go astray with the first quarter siren sounding 4 – 0 to the NZRL Development squad.
The Vodafone Warriors hit back, but good scramble defence by NZRL saved any scoring opportunity. More handling errors by the NZRL Development squad gifted the Warriors another chance on their goal-line; however, NZRL’s Nathaniel Tangitimaiti shutdown the crossfield kick as the score remained 4 – 0.
The NZRL development squads’ goal-line defence was nothing short of impressive saving back to back tries in the second quarter; however, a fourth handling error gifted the Warriors yet another repeat set in which they finally capitalised to bring the score to four apiece.
Wasting no time, Vodafone Warrior Paula Latuila backed up the points crossing over in the corner to make it 8 – 4. Warriors with the momentum and meters, Dorian Lotaki crashed over the try line shortly after to make it 12 – 4 to the Warriors 16s.
The NZRL Development squad then hit straight back off some dominant meters down the middle; winger Jayden Harris crossed over in the corner in the final seconds to make it 12 – 8 at half time.
Second half underway and an unlucky error under the highball gifted the Vodafone Warriors their fourth try pushing their lead out to 16 – 8. Another handling error from the NZRL development squad saw powerhouse prop Ben Peni steamroll over the line to extend the Warriors lead to 20 – 8.
NZRL’s Dallas Hurrell-Jones ran down the left edge to score for the Development squad after a clever intercept lessening the gap to 20 – 12, however, the Vodafone Warriors were quick to hit back with big metres down the middle scoring shortly after, the twelve-point gap remains, 24 – 12.
Warrior winger Paula Latuila ran down the right edge after a clever cut out pass to score his second making it 28 – 12. A good restart kick gave possession back to NZRL in which they earned a repeat set, Khalan Clyde only centimetres away from scoring before the third quarter siren. The score remains 28 – 12.
The NZRL Development squad kicked off the final quarter with a try on their first set to Samuela Vakadula making it 28 – 18. Cantebury’s Felix Fa’atili ran through the middle to score off the back of some good hit-ups from the NZRL forward pack, with teammate Dallas Hurrell-Jones crossing over in the corner shortly after for his second, making it 28 – 24 with ten to go.
NZRL Hooker Joseph O’Leary jumped on a loose ball running into open space; however, the NZRL Development squad couldn’t capitalise on the momentum. An impressive comeback was unfortunately cut short with the Vodafone Warriors U16s taking out the match, 28 – 24.
Players from both teams will be selected for the NZRL U16s wider squad set to be announced in the next three weeks. Our young Kiwi talent was certainly on display here in Cambridge and safe to say after this close-fought battle – selectors will be spoilt for choice.
Australia will meet Fiji, Italy and Scotland in Group B, while New Zealand were drawn against Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon in Group C and Tonga play Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D.
In the women’s tournament, New Zealand were drawn in the same pool as Australia in a massive boost for the likes of England and PNG.
However, most interest in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace centred on which team Prince Harry picked as England’s opponents in the opening match on October 23, 2021. The match will be played at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Tournament organisers couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome as Samoa have the potential to be a massive drawcard if Williams chooses to play for them.
The host nation narrowly lost the 2017 final 6-0 to Australia and would be expected to top their pool but Great Britain’s disastrous Southern Hemisphere tour at the end of last season and the retirement of Sam Burgess have raised concerns.
Samoa are the obvious threat but their only win since 2016 was a 24-6 defeat of PNG in last year’s Pacific Test.
It would take a stunning upset for the Kangaroos to fail to top their pool but Tonga showed what is possible by beating Australia last November in Auckland and Fiji aren’t too far behind.
The Bati have qualified for the semi-finals of the last three World Cups and will be battle-hardened by Tests against New Zealand and Tonga this year.
Scotland drew with New Zealand in 2016 and Samoa at the 2017 World Cup but its hard to see them or Italy making it out of their pool.
This is probably the most wide-open pool, with the exception of the current No.1 ranked Kiwis.
Jamaica qualified for their first World Cup by beating the USA more than a year ago, while Lebanon are likely to field a young team after the retirements of Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah from the team that made the quarter-finals in 2017.
Ireland were unlucky not to have advanced to the 2017 quarter-finals in place of Samoa and would have under the format for the 2021 tournament.
However, the results in Group C are likely to come down to which of Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon has the best heritage players to help claim second spot.
After beating Great Britain and Australia at the end of last season, as well as New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup, Tonga are aiming to win the 2021 tournament and few doubt they are capable.
Besides Tonga, Group D is also wide open as PNG beat Great Britain at the end of last season and Cook Islands have the potential to field a strong line-up if all of their heritage players make themselves available.
Wales have been disappointing in recent seasons but the tournament being in the UK will be of benefit to the Dragons.
The Orchids, Ravens and Brasileiras would have been doing handstands after being drawn in Group A with England.
Brazil will meet the host nation in the opening game of the women’s World Cup at Emerald Headingley Stadium on November 9, 2021.
Most interest in the women’s draw was always going to revolve around which side of the draw the Kiwi Ferns were in and France and the Cook Islands now face a tough World Cup campaign.
The Jillaroos are the defending World Cup champions and also won the 2013 final but New Zealand had won every tournament before that.
Defending World Cup winners France will meet Wales, Scotland and USA in pool B.
The 2021 World Cup is the first in which the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have been staged concurrently, with all three finals to be played on the same weekend.
Brad Walter – NRL
As seen on the Otago Daily Times
Grant Gibson is “quite excited” to gain a New Year’s honour for his contributions to rugby league on the West Coast for more than 55 years.
“It’s just nice to get recognised,” he said.
Mr Gibson (78) hoped the award would also contribute to greater community awareness of rugby league and its referring, and he highlighted the positive opportunities for people wanting to try refereeing.
Mr Gibson volunteered as a referee for West Coast Rugby League (WCRL) for 25 years, before becoming the chairman of the WCRL Referees Association, holding that post for the past 32 years.
He has also served on the WCRL board since 1976, including as vice-president since 1995.
A member of the directorate of the New Zealand Rugby League Referees from its inception in 1995, he has also remained a member of the NZRL referee training department after the directorate’s restructure.
Appointed as the West Coast co-ordinator by NZRL in the 1990s, he still travels throughout New Zealand holding referee seminars and training courses.
He has also been significantly involved in the development of youth rugby league in the West Coast.
And he is the referees co-ordinator at all Southern Zone Rugby League age-group tournaments.
Mr Gibson is a life member of the West Coast Rugby League Referees Association and West Coast Rugby League, and has received a Distinguished Service Medal from New Zealand Rugby League.
As seen on Warriors.kiwi by Richard Becht
A year in which Honey Hireme-Smiler endured the loss of her mother has ended with her contribution to rugby league being recognised in New Zealand’s 2020 New Year Honours.
The 38-year-old has been appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the code.
It comes only weeks after the Putaruru-born star led the Kiwi Ferns to glory when they shocked the much-vaunted the Jillaroos in the World Cup 9s grand final in Sydney.
Despite the on-field success, Hireme-Smiler’s year was clouded by her mother Caryn’s brave battle with cancer before she passed away in September. She kept vigil at her mother’s bedside for many weeks in Hamilton and later in Putaruru.
Hireme-Smiler and her partner Rochelle Smiler were also married, having their service at Waikato Hospital’s chapel so Caryn could witness the wedding.
Hireme-Smiler, a dual rugby league-rugby union international, has been an exceptional flag bearer for New Zealand women’s rugby league.
A Kiwi Fern since 2003, she was signed by the Warriors for their 2019 WNRL campaign but was ultimately unable to play for the club as she stayed in Hamilton to support her mother.
Also recognised in the 2020 New Year Honours for his services to rugby league was long-time West Coast referee Grant Gibson.
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) will kick off the new year with the CCL:Revera Talent Development Programme (TDP). The camp will engage nearly 125 potential Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns players, arming them with resources and skillsets necessary to fulfil their international rugby league aspirations.
The following aspiring Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns will head into camp at St. Peters School in Cambridge on Wednesday 15th January through to Saturday 18th next year.
The TDP is designed for sub-elite players to enhance their skills, strength & conditioning, as well as gain a better understanding of player welfare, all with the hope of encouraging those who dream of playing in the NRL to stay in New Zealand until they are 18. The TDP aims to better prepare the players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRL and NRLW and also doubles as a player entry point for selection in the NZ 16s and 18s wider squads for 2020.
While in camp there will be several keynote speakers who will talk to personal brand and development including educational and career aspirations, resilience, as well as other relevant subjects which have an impact on young and aspiring athletes.
Cloud Technology company, CCL:Revera has been announced as the naming rights sponsor of the TDP extending their current partnership with NZRL beyond the football field. While players are in camp, they will be introduced to different career pathways that will be complementary to their future professional careers.
Andrew Allan, CEO of CCL:Revera says, “Our partnership with Rugby League allows CCL:Revera to extend its reach beyond the try line, providing a vehicle for budding and current players to remain connected to the game through career opportunities within the IT Industry. Rugby League is close to the hearts of many of our staff and our families. So as fans of the game, we are excited that our partnership will continue to develop and grow this great game for all New Zealanders both on and off the field.”
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire and Captain Benji Marshall will also be in attendance. Maguire will be running technical and tactical workshops (game preparation, video analysis, motivation and engagement) with the coaches, while Marshall will be working closely with the young halves on technical and tactical skills relevant to their positions.
NZRL will also be working in conjunction with the Vodafone Warriors who will join the camp with their 16s and 18s teams on the penultimate day attending the same sessions as the players identified for the NZRL TDP.
NZRL General Manager of High-Performance, Motu Tony says, “Being able to incorporate the development of the women’s game as well as involve legends of the sport is extremely exciting.
“These camps enable us to carry on and increase the momentum our game is seeing by preparing our player prospects and future high-performance managers and coaches for the rigours of international rugby league. We are fostering the next generation of Kiwis and Ferns as we work towards the upcoming World Cups – the future is looking bright.”
NZRL congratulate all those selected to partake in the 2020 CCL:Revera Talent Development Camp: (Note players 2019 Grassroots Club / School and affiliated Zone as per LeagueNet).
NZRL TDP 16S PLAYERS
NZRL TDP 18S PLAYERS
New Zealand 18’s Resident Coaching Staff
Head Coach – Tusa Lafaele – Counties Manukau
Assistant Coach – Eugene Davis – Upper Central
Assistant Coach – Daniel McEwan – Wellington Zone
TDP Camp Manager – Junie Shelford – Northland
New Zealand 16’s Resident Coaching Staff
Head Coach – Phil Gordon – Akarana
Assistant Coach – Peter Butler – Mid Central Zone
Assistant Coach – Alex Parker – Upper Central Zone
TDP Camp Manager – Clarissa Percival – Mid Central
The Warriors will be announcing their squads in 2020.
The 2019 NZRL Community Award recipients have tonight been announced with Taniwharau Rugby League Club taking out NZRL Grassroots Club of the Year.
Seventy-five years strong and situated in an area where the playing population is quickly diminishing, this has not hindered the growth of the North Waikato Club who have not only retained players but expanded in numbers and accolades across the park.
Taniwharau’s Premier team remain undefeated after they took out the Waikato Men’s Premiership for the third year running. The club also impressively sports a team at every age group including two female grades, who due to lack of local competition travel each weekend to compete in Auckland. Taniwharau’s U18’s Girls team, coached by Mike Wilson, reigned supreme taking out the U18’s Auckland Women’s Competition which earnt them a nomination for Sport Waikato Team of the Year and Mike a nomination for Sport Waikato Coach of the Year.
Canterbury’s Tevin Arona picked up NZRL Domestic Player of the year due to his outstanding season with the Bulls helping guide them to the NZRL Premiership final. He also Co-Captained the NZ Residents to a victory over the England Community Lions in November and represented the Cook Islands at International Nines and Test level.
Andrew Auimatagi was awarded Domestic Coach of the Year after he coached the Canterbury Bulls to their most successful season in recent time, the Linwood Keas to their third Premiership title in a row, and also the NZ Residents to their victory against England. Andrew has been a driving force within Canterbury and the Southern Zone for a number of years and continues to give back to age-grade representative teams and coaches.
Tokoroa’s Cassius Cowley was awarded U16s Player of the Year after a remarkable 2019 season that saw him captain the Vodafone Warriors 16s team, receive MVP of the 17s North Island Tournament, as well as MVP at the NZ16s test against Toa Samoa in October.
Temple Kalepo was awarded U18s Player of the Year for 2019. The Ellerslie Junior made his debut for the Vodafone Warriors Jersey Flegg and Canterbury Cup team before taking the field for the Junior Kiwis against the Australian Schoolboys. He was also named in the NZ18s squad who took on France and Toa Samoa.
Chris McMillan was awarded Match Official of the Year after he was appointed Touch Judge for all Kiwis home Test matches for the season and refereed the NZRL National Premiership final. Chris also continues to provide coaching at a grassroots level in his spare time.
The Pirtek Volunteer of the Year Awards went to Bryarn Nuku from Omahu Huia Rugby League Club and Anaru Paul from the Hamilton City Tigers after those within their communities nominated them for their selfless dedication to their clubs.
Bryarn kick-started junior rugby league at Omahu Huia Rugby League club which hadn’t seen a junior grade for more than 20 years. Her actions epitomise the Kiwi Way, from fundraising, transporting local kids to their games and paying for their playing fees. Anaru has held the Managers role at the Hamilton City Tigers for over five years, he was a part of two Waikato Premiership winning teams himself and has managed the current Waikato Men’s Premier squad for the last three years. He is described as a true gentleman and an extremely humble man who puts everyone involved in the game before himself.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says, “It is these people that keep our game thriving whether you’re a player, coach, referee or volunteer at any level.
“I want to thank all recipients for their dedication to what happens on the field as well as off it. These awards recognise outstanding work in our grassroots and community space and the growth of our game is a testament to them. We congratulate each recipient on their outstanding achievement.”
The NZRL High-Performance Awards will be broadcast on Sky Sport in the new year.
2019 NZRL Community Award Winners
The Southern Zone wishes to advise of the recent passing of a significant figure in rugby league and the community on the West Coast. Frank Gibson passed away on 19th November at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Dot, 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Frank was recognised as a gentleman of the highest degree, a man of principal, a quiet achiever and tireless worker who was respected by all who had the priviliege of knowing him. He had his Grey Valley community at heart and gave his time freely holding positions of office on school and sporting committees. He was President of the Ngahere Sports Club and was involved with the Ngahere sales yard and Ngahere Rugby League Club. He was a long serving member of the Waro-rakau league club.
A dedicated servant of West Coast Rugby league, he was a life member of WCRL, life member of the WCRL schoolboy board and was a schoolboy patron. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal by the NZRL for services to rugby league and was awarded the Grey District Mayoral volunteers award, He was NZRL Volunteer of the Year in 2010.
Frank will be remembered as a long serving groundsman of the West Coast home of rugby league at Wingham Park in a remarkable duration which spanned close to 45 years. “Frank was a legend of our game,” retired WCRL President Peter Kerridge said. “His contribution to rugby league was outstanding , especially as Wingham Park groundsman. The accolades that came his way were richly deserved.”
“Frank was immensely popular at all levels in rugby league circles and he was held in great respect and affection. We were lucky to have his services for so long and his passing is mourned throughout the game in NZ.”
The Southern Zone and all of the rugby league community of the South Island pass on its condolences to the family at the loss of a father, grandfather, great grandfather and a significant member of the rugby league community.
Sharp-eyed fans may have noticed the Sky Sport logo on the back of the Kiwi Ferns Nines jersey – well, a sponsorship and support partnership is now official between Sky Sport and New Zealand Rugby League; with a specific focus on the Kiwi Ferns, New Zealand’s national women’s Rugby League team. But the agreement goes much further with a raft of support designed to grow the game and its appeal to women and girls throughout the country.
“At the risk of repeating myself, our support for the Kiwi Ferns and women’s rugby league, is yet another example of how we’re going all out to grow and promote every aspect of women in sport in New Zealand from production and promotion through to playing and performing,” says Martin Stewart, CEO Sky.
“Women’s sport is fast gaining ground – it’s exciting, inspirational and the more we showcase how women and girls are achieving success, the more positive messages we can send about the benefits of being involved in sport.”
The agreement between Sky Sport and NZRL runs through until September 2023. The Kiwi Ferns will wear the Sky Sport logo on their jerseys and other kit whenever they represent New Zealand with all games being broadcast on Sky Sports and available through Sky Go and other Sky platforms.
Greg Peters, CEO NZRL says, “We are experiencing an explosion in the women’s game, and this high-profile partnership shines a brighter spotlight on this across all levels of the code.
“Sky’s support will provide more international playing opportunities for the Ferns as we look to carry on the momentum from this year’s outstanding World Nines win. Test football aside, Sky has come on board as an official naming rights sponsor for our new National Women’s Rugby League Competition and is also supporting our NZRL Roadshows we plan on implementing across the country next year designed to connect with and grow our younger playing generation.
“We are very much committed to growing the female game at all levels and we are extremely grateful that Sky Sport not only shares this vision but is willing to support us in such a large capacity.
Collectively, we are excited about what we can achieve and what momentum we will be able to create in the space as we work towards the 2021 World Cup.”
Kiwi Ferns Captain, Honey Hireme-Smiler, says, “We play because we love our country and we love rugby league and every girl who puts on that Black and White jersey is determined to represent New Zealand to the best of their ability. What’s awesome about this is that a partner like Sky Sport gives us more opportunity to showcase that commitment and at the same hopefully inspire the next generation of Kiwi Ferns coming through.
With this kind of support from grassroots through to the highest level of the game, Sky Sport is nailing its colours to the goalpost, says Stewart.
“We’ll grow our customer base by giving them access to the widest possible spectrum of sport. But it means more than simply whipping out a ‘chequebook’ and buying rights. We’re investing in sport itself, we’re investing in growing the game and we’re not leaving anyone behind.”
On this day in 2005
Australia lose an international series for the first time in 27 years when they are trounced 24-0 by New Zealand in the final of the Tri-Nations tournament in Leeds. The victory is the Kiwis’ first series win over Australia since 1953.
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #324 William Bevin Keith Hough.
Hough passed away on Monday 25 November 2019 in Tauranga. He will be remembered as a New Zealand sportsman who represented New Zealand in long jump at the British Empire Games and played twelve Tests for the New Zealand Kiwis from 1950 to 1953.
Representing Auckland, Hough won the 1948 New Zealand under-19 long jump title. He went on to win the national men’s long jump championship in each of the following three years. At the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland Hough leapt 23 ft 7 3⁄8 in (7.20 m) to win the silver medal in the men’s long jump.
Hough played rugby league for the Richmond and Papakura clubs. He represented both Auckland and New Zealand, being selected for the Kiwis from 1950 to 1953 and playing in 12 test matches. During the 1951 French rugby league tour of Australia and Zealand, Hough was selected to play for both Auckland and New Zealand at winger.
The New Zealand Kiwis have moved to number one in the International Rugby League world rankings which have been announced after the conclusion of the 2019 international programme.
The Kiwis have built on their 2018 victories over Australia and England and their recent successes against Great Britain and Tonga to take the number one position.
Tonga remain in fourth spot but their historic victory over the second-placed Kangaroos has meant that they close the gap on England who now sit in third place.
New Zealand coach, Michael Maguire said “This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition.
“The International Rugby League Oceania Cup is a fantastic development for the Kiwis and the nations in this region. It provides a meaningful competition and is a real focus for our international programme.”
Papua New Guinea is one of the big movers in both the men’s and women’s rankings. The men have been recognised for their progress in the past 12 months as they move from 10th to 6th place and in the women’s section, from 6th place to 4th.
Kumuls head coach, Michael Marum sees the rise up the rankings as a natural part of their journey saying: “The PNG Kumuls going from 10th spot to 6th spot is really good for us. We can only go higher with more international fixtures.”
Orchids coach, Bagelo Solien commented:
“Going up two spots from 6th to 4th is pleasing after two test matches and we can only get better from here. It is good for the Women’s game nationally and internationally”
Commenting on the latest rankings, International Rugby League chief executive officer, Nigel Wood said:
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their number one position. It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with 4 wins from their last 5 international games.
“Tonga has possibly been the story of the recent internationals and they deserve all the plaudits that they have received. They have certainly cemented their place as a genuine top four-nation and, along with other Pacific nations, throws the competition wide open for Rugby League World Cup 2021.”
Latest Rankings November 2019
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates Kiwi #779, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, on winning the prestigious IRL Golden Boot Award for 2019.
The Otahuhu Leopards junior is now recognised as the best current player in international rugby league, beating fellow Kiwis teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tonga star (and former NZ Kiwi) Siosiua Taukeiaho.
Roger is no stranger to success, the 2017 Kiwis Player of the Year was awarded the Dally M Player of the Year and Fullback of the Year in 2018, he also received Warriors Player of the Year this season, making history as the first player to win the award across three successive years.
Roger debuted for the Kiwis back in 2013 and to date has scored an impressive 14 tries in 20 tests totalling 56 points.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving to receive such an accolade,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“Roger has always worn the Kiwis Jersey with pride and this is reflected in his on-field performances and by his impressive and evergrowing list of accolades.
“We talk about the Kiwi Way and he completely optimises this, he acts as a role model to so many Kiwi kids not only in New Zealand but abroad and his impact on our game and those who play it is monumental.
“It’s exciting we have players of this calibre wearing the Black and White jersey and inspiring the next generation of Kiwis to come. We are extremely proud of Roger and all that he’s achieved and we can’t thank him enough for his ongoing dedication and service to the Kiwis jersey,” Peters concludes.
“Receiving this Golden award is a huge honour,” says Sheck.
“Thank you to all those who voted, the players in the shortlist are all world-class and I’m very honoured to have been considered alongside them.
“Putting on the Black and White jersey and representing my country is always a privilege and winning this Golden Boot award is a huge honour. Thank you to the IRL, NZRL and of course my family as without their love and support none of this would be possible. This year’s campaign has been one to remember, and although being away from my family was difficult, this makes it all worth it, this award is for them.”
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s key milestone achievements:
Dally M Winger Of The Year – 2013
RLIF Winger Of The Year – 2013
Dally M Fullback Of The Year – 2015, 2018
RLW Player of the Year – 2015
NZRL / Kiwis Player of the Year – 2017
Dally M Player Of The Year – 2018
IRL Golden Boot Winner – 2019
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) will kick off the new year with their successful Talent Development Programme (TDP) which for the first time will also include the development of female player prospects. 2020’s TDP will engage nearly 100 potential Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns players, arming them with resources and skillsets necessary to fulfil their international rugby league aspirations.
Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 January 2020 will see NZRL bring 25 under 16s and 25 under 18s (men) as well as 48 aspiring Kiwi Ferns (female) into camp at St. Peters School, Cambridge.
The Performance camp has been designed for sub-elite players to enhance skills, introduce strength & conditioning and promote education and player welfare, encouraging those who dream of playing in the NRL to stay in New Zealand until they are 18, allowing for an extra few years in familiar surroundings.
New Zealand has a rich talent pool with NRL clubs recruiting from across the country for both men and women. The potential pathways for New Zealand based players are ever-growing and NZRL is committed to continuing this momentum.
The three-day TDP will involve testing, wellbeing workshops, skill sessions and for the 16s and 18s boys, a trial on the final day. The TDP aims to better prepare the players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRL and NRLW and will also double as a player entry point for selection in the NZ 16s and 18s wider squads for 2020.
While in camp there will be several keynote speakers who will talk to personal brand, personal development including educational and career aspirations, resilience, as well as other relevant subjects which have an impact on many young and aspiring athletes.
NZRL will be working in conjunction with the Vodafone Warriors who will join the camp with their 16s and 18s teams on the penultimate day attending the same sessions as the players identified for the NZRL TDP.
NZRL General Manager of High-Performance, Motu Tony says, “It’s exciting we have been able to incorporate the development of the women’s game into next year’s TDP. It’s important we continue to engage with our potential Kiwi Ferns from across the country and carry on the momentum the female game is currently seeing both at a grassroots and international level.
“The TDP Programme plays a crucial role in fostering and developing our next generation of Kiwis and Ferns. It readies not only player prospects but upcoming coaches and managers for the rigours of International Rugby League as we work towards the upcoming World Cups.” Tony concludes.
Greg Boulous, GM of Future Warriors says, “We are really excited to be collaborating with NZRL. We are both passionate about strengthening pathways and creating quality experiences for players. After being involved with the Kiwi Ferns it is also great to see the women included in next year’s camp.”
New Zealand Rugby League is inviting applicants to apply for the following positions with the 2020 New Zealand Resident 16s and 18s teams:
For persons applying for a role, it will be beneficial to have the endorsement and support from their General Manager of the respective District or Zone they’re representing.
Click on the below online link to fill out the questionnaire and attach your CV and cover letter.
If you have any questions or queries please contact David McMeeken; [email protected] or by phone: 021956975.
Closing date: Thursday 21 November 5pm.
Interviews are to take place on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 November 2019.
Appointment term: one (1) year plus an additional one (1) year pending campaign review.
Hours of work: These are all voluntary roles that require a commitment of some weekend work and a camp for the campaign.
Performance Camp dates:
Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 January 2020.
Campaigns and fixtures to be confirmed with oppositions.
NZRL is pleased to announce that Australian based apparel brand, BLK, will be its official apparel provider from 1 January 2020 through to 31 December 2023.
“We are no stranger to the quality BLK provide as we have partnered with this world-renowned clothing brand in the past,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“We are excited to be working with BLK over the next couple of years as we head into busy periods of growth for the organisation on and off the field, as well as the soon approaching 2021 World Cup.” Peters concludes.
“Three years ago BLK made a very clear brand decision to only partner with teams that create global excitement, treat all athletes equally regardless of gender and believe in the power of sport not just the business of sport,” says BLK CEO, Tyron Brant.
“It is wonderful to have the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns back in BLK; we are excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with New Zealand Rugby League and grow both brands globally.”
Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL and Kiwi Ferns assistant coach Luisa Avaiki has had double success at The Trusts Sports Waitakere Excellence Awards.
Kiwi Ferns assistant coach Luisa Avaiki has had double success at The Trusts Sports Waitakere Excellence Awards.The…
Posted by Kiwi Ferns on Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Kiwi Ferns assistant coach Luisa Avaiki has had double success at The Trusts Sports Waitakere Excellence Awards.The…
Posted by Kiwi Ferns on Tuesday, 12 November 2019
The former Kiwi Ferns captain and long-time international collected the Douglas Charitable Trust Coach of the Year award and was also named the winner of the major award of the year The Trusts Supreme Award.
Avaiki again guided the Warriors in the second NRL women’s premiership. The club opened with a win over the Sydney Roosters, lost to the St George Illawarra Dragons and then stunned the Brisbane Broncos by handing them their only defeat in the competition’s first two seasons.
During the year, Avaiki was also Kiwi Ferns assistant coach when they beat Fetu Samoa 46-8 in June and again for their end-of-season campaign when they upset the Jillaroos to win the inaugural World Cup 9s title.
A dominant New Zealand performance in the second and final Test against Great Britain on Saturday night saw the Kiwis win 23-8 and secure their first series victory over the Lions in 21 years.
After emerging 12-8 winners in a dour affair a week earlier in Auckland, the Kiwis found their attacking mojo in Christchurch with returning playmaker Shaun Johnson a leading contributor, terrorising Great Britain’s makeshift left edge which included regular five-eighth Blake Austin playing on the wing.
Having run out of specialist outside back, coach Wayne Bennett named Austin on the wing following the late withdrawal of Zak Hardaker with a shoulder injury on Friday.
Another standout for the home side was Jamayne Isaako who scored 11 points via four penalties, a conversion and a late field goal.
The Brisbane winger was playing his first Test in his hometown of Christchurch with his terminally ill father Taai watching on from the crowd.
The Kiwis led 16-2 at half-time thanks to tries from Joseph Manu and Shaun Johnson, along with eight points off the boot of Isaako.
Earlier New Zealand got the scoring started thanks to a penalty in front of the posts, which came after Austin dropped a Johnson bomb and gifted them back-to-back sets with the ball.
But three minutes later Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was ruled to have taken too long to leave a tackle and Gareth Widdop locked things up with a penalty of his own.
Despite bringing in another towering bomb sent his way, Austin was promptly bundled into touch and on the next set centre Joseph Manu made the Lions pay, bouncing out of a three-man tackle to slam the ball down.
Isaako then landed two penalty goals in the space of four minutes to stretch the Kiwis’ lead to 10-2 on the half hour.
Cleary out to prove a point after being dropped from the national team for the first time in his career last week, Johnson earned a repeat set with a pinpoint long kick into the in-goal area and then produced a brilliant individual run to score New Zealand’s second.
After standing up Elliott Whitehead with some dazzling footwork the Sharks playmaker weaved his way over, with Isaako converting for a 16-2 lead at the break.
More points following in the second spell for the Kiwis, and after getting his side into attacking position with a powerful run where he broke five tackles, Ken Maumalo scored his fifth Test try with an athletic finish in the corner.
Trailing 20-2 with half an hour to play Great Britain needed something to spark them to life, and got it in the way of a late Josh Jones offload which resulted in a try to Josh Hodgson.
Widdop converted to reduce the deficit to 12, but hopes of building momentum were thwarted when Alex Walmsley dropped the ball 10 metres off the Lions’ line on the very next set.
Great Britain were twice denied tries by video referee Henry Perenara inside the final 20 minutes.
First John Bateman was found to have missed the ball on a desperate effort to ground it before the dead ball line, before Jake Connor was ruled to have knocked on in the lead up to a would-be try nine minutes from time.
With any hope of a comeback now lost, Great Britain were dealt one final blow when Isaako slotted a field goal and another penalty to stretch the final deficit.
The Lions have little time to lick their wounds, with a clash against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby awaiting them next Saturday.