16 August 2023

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s Eden Park will host a blockbuster rugby league triple-header between New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga on Saturday, October 21st, as part of the newly announced Pacific Championships in partnership with the NRL.

The Kiwis will face Samoa, igniting a new Pacific rivalry hot off last year’s World Cup momentum; the Kiwi Ferns will line up against Tonga, and an NZ Kiwi A team will assemble for the first time in 17 years.

Thanks to the current depth of the New Zealand talent pool, the NZ Kiwis A team will consist of current and future Kiwi-committed NRL stars who will take on a Tonga A team as the opening match of the rugby league triple-header.

“How special to bring the best players in the world back home to play in front of their communities. Without the support from Tātaki Auckland Unlimited this series wouldn’t have happened,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“We’re excited to work with Samoa to bring their rugby league heroes back home and unite fans across New Zealand and the Pacific.

“No other code can produce such a celebration of culture and passion; the atmosphere will be unmissable.”

The 2023 Pacific Championships is a two-tiered competition with six men’s teams and seven women’s teams taking part in the tournament across two pools.

Waikato’s FMG Stadium will host the Pacific Cup grand final on November 4th.

“I firmly believe the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland triple-header and Waikato final will be the biggest international rugby league events on home soil since the 2017 World Cup,” adds NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

Hamilton City Council’s General Manager of Venues, Tourism and Major Events, Sean Murray says, “We’re working hard to deliver an exceptional Pacific Championship Final at FMG Stadium Waikato. The team looks forward to passionate fans and the exposure this game will bring to our city and region.”


Full schedule below:

Week One – October 14-15

  • Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
  • PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Two – October 21-22

  • New Zealand v Samoa (men), New Zealand v Tonga (women), and NZ Kiwis A v Tonga A (men) at Eden Park, Auckland
  • Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Three – October 28-29

  • Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Four – November 4-5

  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 in Hamilton, New Zealand
  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

The Pacific Championships will be staged in 2023 and 2024, after the NRL and NRLW Premiership seasons, and will include men’s and women’s teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands.

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets


09 May 2023

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has been invited to put forward a U23 Women’s 9s team to compete in the 2023 Pacific Games.

The 17th Pacific Games (SOL2023) will take place in the Solomon Islands between November 19th and December 2nd.

This is the first time NZRL have been invited to put forward a team following two successful National 9s tournaments and exceptional growth in the women’s space across the country.

The Pacific Games is another high-performance pathway for young wāhine chasing NRLW and Kiwi Fern opportunities.

Women between the ages of 20-23 currently registered and playing community rugby league in New Zealand are eligible for selection.

“Thank you to the New Zealand Olympic Committee for providing the opportunity for our young female athletes to rep the Black and White jersey on the world stage,” says NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony.

“Any chance to represent your country is a blessing, but doing so on a stage celebrating elite sport and culture will be a special milestone for all involved.”

Rugby league was introduced to the Pacific Games in 2007 and in its current 9s format, will consist of a three-day competition.

“Every four years, the Pacific comes together in friendship to celebrate the Pacific Games. A celebration of sport and culture in common bonds acquired through a shared physical geography and community.” Pacific Games Council (PGC).

“Alternating between different countries of the Pacific Region, the Solomon Islands hosts the Games in its capital city Honiara. Five thousand participants (including athletes, technical officials and support staff) from 24 Countries will compete in 24 sports.”


New Zealand Rugby League mourns the loss of Fullback/Utility Roger (Spud) Tait, Kiwi #440.

Tait played 33 games for the Kiwis, including 11 Test matches. The 1961 season saw him earn the World Record for the most points in a season, totalling 468 points from 34 tries and 83 goals in just 38 games.

Tait played for Waikato and Auckland and finished as captain-coach of the Woden Valley Rams in 1979.

NZRL extends its condolences to the Tait whānau; he will be greatly missed.

20 April 2023

Mainstream has extended its commitment to New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) for a further four years as Principal Sponsor of the Kiwi Ferns & Referees and Official Associate Sponsor of the Kiwis.

The extended partnership will see Mainstream continue its tenure with NZRL through to the 2025 World Cup after joining the rugby league whānau in 2017.

Throughout the partnership, Mainstream remained an invaluable supporter of the game at all levels, staying loyal to NZRL through the Covid-19 pandemic when there was zero international rugby league activity for nearly two years.

Mainstream continues to show integral support for the women’s game and has been avid supporters of the Kiwi Ferns since the partnership’s inception.

NZRL CEO Greg Peters says Mainstream is an integral member of the NZRL whānau.

“It’s an exciting milestone to extend our partnership with Mainstream through to a third Rugby League World Cup,” says Peters.

“Mainstream has shown invaluable support through some of our most challenging times, and their support of the women’s game has been felt widespread among our Ferns group.

“I know we are all delighted to continue this partnership, and I look forward to what we’ll be able to achieve over the next three years as we enter one of the most exciting eras in international rugby league.”

Managing Director of Mainstream Greg Haliday says, “Mainstream is looking forward to building on the great relationship we have enjoyed over the last few years with the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns. You can be sure that our own team will be closely supporting the men’s and women’s teams right through to the excitement of the 2025 World Cup”.

09 April 2023

The NZRL National District 9s continued at Bruce Pulman Park today, with the U18s grade kicking off their tournament weekend.

Otago v Waikato
After a close first half, the Waikato side pulled away in the second half, coming out on top 20-4.

Northland v Auckland
A dominant Auckland red side showed their strength, keeping Northland off the board to take the win 16-0.

Canterbury v Waikato
The Cantabrians opened the scoring, but Waikato matched them for every point. Both teams came to a draw 14-14.

Manawatu v Auckland
A close game going try-for-try, with Auckland narrowly taking the win 10-8 over the Manawatu side.

Otago v Auckland
Both sides were evenly matched and kept each other from crossing the try line, leaving the score at 0-0 full-time.

Auckland v Auckland
A very physical match-up between the two Auckland sides. Auckland White was tenacious to win 20-6 over Auckland Blue.

Wellington v Canterbury
An intense game between two strong teams, with the Wellingtonians coming out on top 8-0 at full-time.

Northland v Wellington
The Northlanders did well to get ahead by halftime, with Wellington only a try behind. The momentum shifted in favour of Wellington, with their strong left edge sealing an 18-12 win.

Hauraki v Otago
Some early errors from Hauraki put Otago just ahead by a try at halftime. The Hauraki team did well to come back and stay in the contest, drawing the game up at 12-12 full-time.

Manawatu v Waikato
The Waikato boys played a dominant 18 minutes, claiming a 26-8 victory over Manawatu.

Canterbury v Auckland
Canterbury 18s Boys had a strong performance against the Auckland Rugby League 18s. Canterbury completely outplayed the Auckland side, beating them easily 24 – 4.

Auckland Blue v Wellington
The two sides constantly battled for 18 minutes, with Auckland just winning by a conversion. Final score 6-4 to Auckland Blue.

Auckland White v Canterbury
A strong Auckland White team dispatched the Canterbury 18s girls with a dominant performance against the South Island team. Auckland White took the win 24 – 4.

Northland v Waikato
The two teams battled try-for-try, with the Waikato girls eventually emerging as the victors, 16-10.

Hauraki v Wellington
A strong Wellington side controlled possession and the game, finishing victorious with 22 points to Hauraki’s 4.

Northland v Otago
The Northland 18s boys came into their next match searching for their first win in the tournament against the Otago 18s boys. Tries came quickly and fast for both teams, but Northland ultimately ran away with the match 22 – 4.

Waikato v Auckland Red
Waikato 18s girls and Auckland Red girls came into the third round needing a win. The match-up was close, with nothing between either of the teams 6 – 6 at halftime. In the second half, Auckland Red kicked into high gear and ran away with the match 20 – 6.

Otago v Northland
Northland displayed their skill and speed to dominate this game, scoring 26 points for a 26-6 full-time score over Otago.

Canterbury v Manawatu
Canterbury 18s Boys came into their last match of the day against Manawatu 18s with confidence after winning their first two matches. The first half of the match was close, with Canterbury leading into halftime 12 – 4. Canterbury battled and kept their lead through the second half to take the win 16 – 8.

Auckland v Waikato
The Auckland side played a physical game to produce a 20-4 win over Waikato, who did well to get points on the board.

Auckland White v Wellington
The Auckland White 18s took on the Wellington 18s in a close matchup. Ultimately, the Auckland side took the win 10 – 8.

Canterbury v Auckland Blue
There was nothing between Canterbury and Auckland Blue. After 18 minutes, the match ended with a draw 8-8.

Northern Swords v Hauraki
After a close first half, the Northern Swords extended their lead over Hauraki to win 20 – 10.

Otago v Wellington
Wellington had by far the most dominant performance of the day, taking the game with ease 0 – 38.


GIRLS 18s standings


Auckland Red
WRFL: Waikato
RLN: Northland
Otago Rugby League: Otago


Auckland White
Auckland Blue
Wellington Rugby League
Canterbury Rugby League


BOYS 18s standings


Wellington Rugby League
Northern Swords
Hauraki District RL
Otago Rugby League



Canterbury Rugby League
Auckland Rugby League
Manawatu Rugby Football League

9 April 2023


The U16s playoffs kicked off day 2 of NZRL National 9s, where Wellington took on Auckland in the first girls’ semi-final.

It was all Wellington in the first half as the Capital managed to keep Auckland in their own forty, scoring two unanswered tries. The Capital kept their momentum in the second stint running away with a convincing 20-4 win booking them a spot in the girls’ final.

Canterbury then took on Northland in the second semi, where it was an even match-up between North and South with one try a piece heading into halftime.

But it was the Northlanders that came out firing in the second stint, scoring two back-to-back tries to book themselves a spot in the U16s girls’ final against Wellington with a 12-10 victory.

The boys’ playoffs followed shortly after, where Canterbury took on Otago in the first semi-final. The Cantabrians dominated, scoring four unanswered tries to book their spot in the final, 24-0.

Wellington then took on Manawatu in the second semi. A clever barge through the middle saw Wellington open up the scoring, but Manawatu answered back with four unanswered tries to win 24-6

Wellington will take on Northland in the Girls’ final at 1:30pm and Canterbury will face Manawatu in the Boys’ final at 2pm. Both games live on Sky Sport 4.




08 April 2023

The NZRL National District 9s kicked off at Bruce Pulman Park this Easter Saturday, with the U16s Girls’ grade beginning the tournament weekend.

Wellington earned their first tournament points with an 18-4 victory over Hawkes Bay. A North v South battle soon followed when Northland took on Otago, where an early kick-off error by Northland saw Otago open up the scoring. Northland promptly responded with three tries in the first half, claiming a 24-12 win over the Southerners.

The Otago Boys took on Coastline to kick off the U16s Boys’ tournament. A late comeback from Coastline wasn’t enough as the Southerners proved too strong, earning a 22-10 victory.  Manawatu then showed a dominant 24 – 4 display over the Northlanders.

Girls’ U16s 2022 Champions Auckland took on Canterbury to kickstart their campaign. A close first half ended with Auckland narrowly leading at halftime. Reigning champions Canterbury came back with a show of dominance in the second half, scoring four unanswered tries to win the game 30-10.

A close encounter between Waikato and Manawatu girls soon followed, where a strong Manawatu right edge scored two early back-to-back tries. Waikato answered back, but a very close second half eventually saw Manawatu come out on top 12 points to 10.

A rematch of the 2022 Boys’ final saw reigning champions Canterbury take on runners-up Waikato. It was a tight affair, with nothing separating the teams at half-time; however, Canterbury picked up the pace in the second half, running away with it 12-4.

Wellington boys then took on Auckland boys in a tight encounter. The boys from the Captial had the upper hand keeping the 09 scoreless, 8-0. Wellington girls then kept the winning momentum for the black and yellow, with a dominant 24-4 display over Otago.

The Northland girls then showed up against Hawkes Bay, winning four tries to one; however, the Northland boys went down to Otago 12-4. The Manawatu men soon followed with an impressive 28-10 performance against Coastline.

After losing to Canterbury, the Auckland girls redeemed with a two-point victory over Waikato, while Manawatu upset reigning champs Canterbury with a 26-18 win.

Back to the boys’ grade, the Cantabrians got the win over Auckland three tries to one, while Wellington continued their dominance with a 22-4 victory over Waikato. In a tightly contested game, Wellington snatched victory over Northland girls 18-16, while Hawkes Bay ran away with a win over Otago 20-8.

Manawatu kept Otago scoreless in the Boy’s Pool with a 14-point victory before Northland ran away with a 34-24 win over Coastline.

Some great ball play by the Auckland girls saw them beat Manawatu 22-8 before Canterbury pipped Waikato at the post with a four-point victory in the final girls’ match of the day.

The boys continued Canterbury’s dominance beating Wellington 16-14 in what was a top-of-the-table clash before Auckland claimed a 22 to 8 victory over Waikato in what was the final match of Day 1.

Canterbury finished at the top of both Boys’ B and Girls’ B pools, with the Southerners stamping their mark on the U16s grade.

Manawatu had a strong showing in the Boys’ grade finishing top of Pool A, while Wellington took out Girl’s Pool B.


GIRLS 16s standings




Hawkes Bay









BOYS 16s standings












31 March 2023

New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the National U20s Pirtek competition team for 2023, with South Island Scorpions second-rower Te Kaio Cranwell earning National 20s Pirtek Competition MVP.

A standout in each game for the Scorpions, Cranwell has been instrumental in his side’s journey to the final. A large frame dominant on both sides of the ball, Cranwell has proved to be a handful for any side he has come up against.

Cranwell a lethal ball-runner, rose to prominence through the competition navigating his way to the try line in every game played. Cranwell’s partnership with Scorpions halfback Caleb Murphy contributed to South Island’s success through the Ruben Wiki Cup. Cranwell led from the front as South Island advanced to the final as the only undefeated team.

Te Kaio Cranwell is joined by an extremely talented pool of players, including fellow teammates Caleb Murphy, Jameson Wellington and Sakiusa Lamanikava, along with Counties Manukau fullback Robin Herbert and Akarana hooker Khalan Clyde.


Congratulations to the following selected for the 2023 Pirtek Competition team:


  1. Robin Herbert (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
  2. Ariki Honetana (Akarana Falcons)
  3. Niu-linghi Peni (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
  4. Deijdre Siaki (South Island Scorpions)
  5. Toaiti Ramsay (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
  6. Felise Tau (Counties Manukau Stingrays)
  7. Caleb Murphy (South Island Scorpions)
  8. Jaedon Wellington (South Island Scorpions)
  9. Khalan Clyde (Akarana Falcons)
  10. Portman Paul (Waikato Mana)
  11. Te Kaio Cranwell (South Island Scorpions)
  12. Sakiusa Lomanikaya (South Island Scorpions)
  13. Daniel Smith (Akarana Falcons)


Ruben Wiki Cup competition MVP: Te Kaio Cranwell (South Island Scorpions)



18 January 2023

The National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup returns for 2023, with Bay of Plenty and Wellington joining the competition.

Kicking off Friday, March 3rd, six teams will battle it out for the National 20s title; reigning champions Akarana, Counties Manukau, Waikato Mana, South Island and newcomers Bay of Plenty and Wellington Orcas.

The Ruben Wiki Cup games will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 4 to domestic and international audiences, working as a key development pathway for future high-performance opportunities.

The Ruben Wiki Cup showcases New Zealand’s U20s domestic game and provides clubs and districts with the opportunity to recruit and retain rangatahi talent, an age group notorious for significant drop-offs in sporting activity.

NZRL is looking to expand the National 20s competition in 2024 with the inclusion of an additional two to four District teams, as well as a women’s grade.

NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony, says: “Each year, the competition has provided players with opportunities to further their careers with NRL or NRL-affiliated clubs.

“With each game being broadcast, the competition shines a spotlight on our best young players; not only that, it’s a key development opportunity for coaches, managers, trainers and match officials across the country.

“The Ruben Wiki Cup gets bigger and better every year, and I look forward to a great competition this 2023.”




By Sam Ackerman as seen in Bay of Plenty Times

One of the most promising young sporting talents in the Bay of Plenty is about to leave the country.

This isn’t a story about a disgruntled athlete throwing his toys and taking his talents elsewhere – rather a grateful one who plans to represent the region as he chases his dreams.

Fifteen-year-old Marley Igasan is taking up a contract with NRL heavy hitters the Brisbane Broncos as part of its contracted elite development squad, his recruitment putting him on a pathway towards rugby league’s big time.

It wasn’t a hard decision from a sporting point of view, but it was from a personal perspective.

“I look at it as a bit of inspiration,” Igasan said. “It’s a big privilege to be able to say that I’m from Tauranga and make all my friends and family proud that I’ve achieved this goal from here.

“In a way, I think I represent all the Kiwi kids that want to go over there and play footy. So it’s a good opportunity for me to take that one on my back. It’s just good to represent where you’re from and I plan to never forget that.”

Igasan has crammed much into the last six years since his parents, James and Michelle, decided to bring their son and his sister Piper ‘home’.

Igasan said being in Tauranga allowed him to connect with his culture and fully understand who he is, where he comes from, and what he represents.

“I’ve always been proud of being Māori and a Kiwi but to be surrounded by that culture is something that will always stay with me.”

Born in New Zealand but raised in Perth, Igasan has been playing league since he was 4. Since relocating to his adopted province in 2017, he has become embedded in the Coastline Rugby League environment. Igasan has pulled on the jerseys of the Otūmoetai Eels, the Whalers, and the Upper Central Stallions, going on to be crowned the district’s supreme player of the year.

Igasan (Ngāpuhi and Ngāi Tahu) has grabbed every opportunity to represent his heritage. For the past two years, he was named MVP in his age grade at the Rangatahi Māori Rugby League Tournament while starring for the Pikiao Warriors, going on to co-captain the NZ Māori U15 team at the Pasifika Youth Cup last year.

He also co-captained the Aotearoa Whānui U16 side (made up of players South of the Bombays) that competed against the Auckland Invitational squad.

All this in between jetting back and forward across the Tasman to train with and finally represent the Broncos elite development squad.

Some junior athletes stand out with flashy skills or blistering pace. What sets Igasan apart is his versatility and on-field work ethic.

While comfortable running attacking plays from within the halves and at hooker, his unrelenting defensive drive has also seen him spend time at prop – though it would appear the number 13 jersey is the best fit to mix his ball-playing skills with his thirst for physicality.

His oval ball skills aren’t limited to the 13-man code. Igasan, a former BOP Roller Mills Rugby rep, made the Mount Maunganui College 1st XV not long after his 15th birthday, helping them to the Baywide championship in 2022.

The sportsman hardly sat idle during his Tauranga summers.

A qualified lifeguard, you can find Igasan’s name engraved on numerous awards at the Mount Maunganui Surf Lifesaving Club, as well as racking up a string of national titles at the country’s mecca of junior surf lifesaving, the Oceans Festival. The Igasan siblings have also been two of the prominent athletes featured in TVNZ’s Life Savers series.

He also works as a rippa rugby referee and volleyball coach and said his parents raised him right.

“They’ve taught me to use my manners and be confident but not cocky. I owe a lot to them, for helping me be a good sportsman and good person in general.

“They’ve always told me to keep putting in the mahi, to never stop unless you want to quit, which in our family is not really a thing to do.”

It’s also part of what drew the Broncos – as well as interest from other clubs like the powerhouse Sydney Roosters and NRL newcomers the Dolphins – to Igasan in the first place. Broncos academy manager Mick Kennedy explained why Igasan’s signature has been so highly sought after.

“Marley’s not only a talented kid, but he has high attention to detail. He does a lot of clean-up work, particularly defensively, that goes unnoticed a lot of the time but certainly not unnoticed to his teammates.

“The main attribute that attracted me to Marley is his competitiveness, his will to win out on the field. Every time he steps on the field, he’s doing everything he possibly can to win the game for his team. Players with those types of attributes generally do really well.

“He’s a nice, humble young man – as long as he’s prepared to work hard over the next few years, I’m sure he’ll have a really good opportunity.”

That shouldn’t be an issue for Igasan, never one to complain about a heavy workload.

In a week in June, Igasan played four games in two days at the Māori tournament in Rotorua, drove to Auckland to fly to Brisbane for physical conditioning testing before the return trip 24 hours later, then straight back to Tauranga for school the next day. On top of that, he squeezed in three rugby training sessions and, oh, a game of social basketball.

And it would have been more had bad weather not cancelled his club game.

Igasan was buzzing about joining the Broncos development system that has the legacy of turning juniors into superstars.

“You see all the photos on the wall of premierships won with the likes of Darren Lockyer and you look at the honours board with all of the players you looked up to when you were growing up. It’s amazing, it’s a real professional place to be.”

So highly is Igasan regarded that the Broncos were prepared to allow him to stay based in Tauranga, commuting Trans Tasman regularly for testings, training and games while following a personalised training programme.

But the opportunity to get more regular quality football and have more tournaments at his disposal was one Igasan knew he needed to take – and the sacrifice of moving with his family one they were willing to make.

“The long-term goal is to make it into the NRL and have a really good career but also to be a good person while doing that, finding a way to support different charities and the community. But on the rugby league front, hopefully I will give it a good crack and be one of the greats to come from New Zealand.”

That sounds like a lofty and bold ambition, but Igasan has already shown he doesn’t sit around waiting for his goals to happen. He’s willing to do what it takes to make them a reality.

York, England, October 26, 2022 – Prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and halfback Jahrome Hughes are back in the New Zealand Kiwis’ Test line-up for the final Pool C Rugby League World Cup match against Ireland at Headingley in Leeds on Friday (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Saturday NZT).

The influential 33-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves resumes his international career after serving a three-match suspension incurred in the Sydney Roosters’ NRL week one finals loss to South Sydney in September.

Head coach Michael Maguire has named Waerea-Hargreaves on the interchange for his 33rd Test since making his debut against Mate Ma’a Tonga in his hometown Rotorua on October 14, 2009. It will be his first appearance for the Kiwis since facing Great Britain in Christchurch in November 2019.

Hughes featured in the Kiwis’ warm-up match against the Leeds Rhinos on October 8 but has been sidelined since after picking up a thigh strain in training two weeks ago.

He is reunited with standoff Dylan Brown for the first time since they paired up in the home Test win over Mate Ma’a Tonga in June, Brown cleared to play this week after his illness-enforced absence from last Saturday’s encounter with Jamaica.

While Maguire has quickly called in the squad’s longest-serving Test player in Waerea-Hargreaves, he has also included another four big forwards in the Kiwis’ starting pack to face Ireland.

After missing the 68-6 win over Jamaica, captain Jesse Bromwich returns in the front row alongside James Fisher-Harris while the imposing 200cm Nelson Asofa-Solomona has been switched to the second row with Joseph Tapine back at loose forward after he also missed the Jamaica contest.

Fisher-Harris, hooker Brandon Smith and second rower Kenny Bromwich remain from the starting pack used in the two matches against Lebanon and Jamaica.

Recalled on the wings are Jordan Rapana and Ronaldo Mulitalo after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and debutant Sebastian Kris filled those positions against Jamaica – and scored five tries between them – while second rower Briton Nikora has been selected in the centres this week. He played there for much of the Jamaica contest after Marata Niukore left the field with a hamstring injury.

Kieran Foran, used in the halves in all three tour matches so far, moves to the bench where he was used against Tonga in June with Isaiah Papali’i, Isaac Liu and Waerea-Hargreaves rounding out the interchange. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Scott Sorensen are the 18th and 19th players while prop Moses Leota (pectoral) and Niukore (hamstring) weren’t considered this week.

The Kiwis have beaten Lebanon 34-12 and Jamaica 68-6 in their first two pool matches while Ireland accounted for Jamaica 48-2 but lost 14-32 to Lebanon last weekend.




Headingley, Leeds

7.30pm, Friday, October 28, 2022


Fullback 1 Joseph MANU # 815
Wing 2 Ronaldo MULITALO # 824
Centre 17 Briton NIKORA # 818
Centre 4 Peta HIKU # 781
Wing 5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
Five Eighth 6 Dylan BROWN # 826
Halfback 7 Jahrome HUGHES # 819
Prop 8 Jesse BROMWICH (C) # 775
Hooker 9 Brandon SMITH # 816
Prop 10 James FISHER-HARRIS # 801
Second Row 12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
Second Row 16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
Loose Forward 13 Joseph TAPINE # 800
Interchange 11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
Interchange 14 Kieran FORAN # 757
Interchange 18 Jared WAEREA-HARGREAVES # 755
Interchange 20 Isaac LIU # 805
18th Man 21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
19th Man 23 Scott SORENSEN # 831

22 October 2022

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak equaled the record for most tries in a single World Cup match by a Kiwi, crossing four times in New Zealand’s 68-6 victory over Jamaica in Hull.

The veteran Warriors winger scored four tries – with the first three coming inside the opening 20 minutes of the match – and set up another two with clever kicks back in field, before leaving the field with cramp in the 62nd minute.

The haul equaled Manu Vatuvei’s effort against England at the 2008 edition of the tournament.

While they were outclassed on the day by the world No.1 Kiwis, Jamaica excited with an adventurous style of play and scored their first ever World Cup try through national team stalwart Ben Jones-Bishop.

New Zealand scored seven first-half tries, but led by the relatively modest margin of 34-0 at the break due to Kieran Foran converting only three attempts, as the veteran half struggled with the responsibility handed to him with Jordan Rapana (not selected) and Dylan Brown (illness) out of the squad.

Of main concern for the Kiwis will be prop Moses Leota (leg) and utility Marata Niukore (chest) failing to play the second half.

Match Snapshot

  • New Zealand are through to the quarter-finals.
  • Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s four-try showing equaled the most tries in a World Cup game by a New Zealander.
  • The Reggae Warriors scored their first ever World Cup try through veteran back Ben Jones-Bishop, garnering a huge cheer from the crowd in attendance in Hull.
  • Jones Bishop was playing in his 300th first-class match and both sides formed a guard of honour for him as he left the field.
  • Prop Moses Leota (leg) and utility Marata Niukore (chest) didn’t take part in the second half.
  • The first three tries came down the right side for the Kiwis, with Watene-Zelezniak, in his first Test since 2019, crossing for three and Peta Hiku the other to get New Zealand to an 18-0 lead.
  • Niukore palmed through the defence for the Kiwis’ fifth, before Sebastian Kris scored the first try of his Test career.
  • Watene-Zelezniak turned provider just before the break, kicking back in field for Jeremy Marshall-King to score.
  • Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad opened the second-half scoring, followed by four-pointers from Briton Nikora and a second for Marshall-King.
  • Watene-Zelezniak hobbled over for his fourth, before leaving the field with cramp.
  • Roosters-bound hooker Brandon Smith scored back-to-back tries in the final 15 minutes, before Bishop-Jones marked one of the best moments of the tournament when he scored for Jamaica.

“I am real pleased how the players went about what they did. From our last game to this one I thought our cohesion was better, but we also know we can get better again.” – New Zealand coach Michael Maguire.

What’s Next

Ahead of the quarter-finals the Kiwis take on Ireland in Leeds, while Jamaica conclude their maiden World Cup campaign against Lebanon.

Hull, England, October 22, 2022 – Dylan Brown is a late defection from the New Zealand Kiwis’ second Rugby League World Cup match against newcomer Jamaica at Hull’s MKM Stadium today (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Sunday NZT).

The 22-year-old standoff was set to play his third consecutive Test but has been ruled out through illness.

His absence sees fullback Joseph Manu moved into the halves while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, originally selected as 18th man, replaces Manu at the back.

Brought into the squad as 18th man is winger Jordan Rapana.




MKM Stadium, Hull

7.30pm, Saturday, October 22


Fullback 21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
Wing 24 Sebastian KRIS # 828
Centre 3 Marata NIUKORE # 820
Centre 4 Peta HIKU # 781
Wing 19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
Five Eighth 1 Joseph MANU # 815
Halfback 14 Kieran FORAN # 757
Prop 15 Moses LEOTA # 827
Hooker 9 Brandon SMITH # 816
Prop 10 James FISHER-HARRIS (C) # 801
Second Row 12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
Second Row 17 Briton NIKORA # 818
Loose Forward 20 Isaac LIU # 805
Interchange 11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
Interchange 16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
Interchange 22 Jeremy MARSHALL-KING # 830
Interchange 23 Scott SORENSEN
18th Man 5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
19th Man 8 Jesse BROMWICH # 775


21 October as seen on nrl.com

Panthers forward Scott Sorensen will become the fifth member of his family to play for the Kiwis when he and Raiders back Sebastian Kris make their Test debuts against World Cup newcomer Jamaica.

Penrith team-mate James Fisher-Harris will also captain the Kiwis for the first time in place of skipper Jesse Bromwich.

Sorensen, a try scorer in Penrith’s grand final defeat of Parramatta, has been brought onto the bench for the match in Hull against the Reggae Warriors, who are at the World Cup for the first time.

The 29-year-old’s selection comes more than 70 years after his late grandfather Bill Sorensen began his New Zealand career.

Bill went on to play 24 Tests from 1951-1960, while his brother Dave, who is Scott’s great uncle, represented New Zealand in 1971-1972.

Scott’s uncles Dane and Kurt Sorensen left an indelible mark on the rugby league landscape, playing 45 Tests between them for the Kiwis in the course of their outstanding professional careers spanning the 1970, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Dane finished his NRL career with 229 appearances for Cronulla-Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs including a then-club record 216 for the Sharks.

Kurt made almost 130 NRL appearances for the Sharks and more than 250 for Widnes, ending his career with the club with a try in the 1993 Challenge Cup grand final loss to Wigan.

Kris also caps a remarkable story of his own by earning his first Test jersey after he stepped aside from the NRL in 2020 before reviving his career in 2021.

He scored a first half hat-trick in his first appearance in the Kiwi jersey in the 74-0 match against Leeds on October 8.

The 24-year-old forms a new combination on the flanks with Warriors winger and former Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who is returning to the side for his 13th Test after last appearing in the home Test win over Mate M’a Tonga in 2019.

They come in for Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana who both played in the opening 34-12 win over the Lebanon Cedars in Warrington last Sunday.

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has also made other changes, with Marata Niukore replacing 2023 Warriors team-mate Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the centres and Moses Leota to start alongside Penrith front-row partner James Fisher-Harris.

Leota was named for the match against Lebanon but was ruled out after picking up a minor groin injury in the team’s final field session.

He comes into the side for captain Jesse Bromwich, with Fisher-Harris chosen to lead the Kiwis on Saturday.

There’s a swap in the second row which sees Cronulla-Sutherland’s Briton Nikora moved from his bench role against Lebanon to start against Jamaica, while Wests Tigers-bound Isaiah Papali’i is switched to the interchange.

Also out of the side this week is Canberra forward Joseph Tapine, with Gold Coast’s Isaac Liu recalled for his ninth Test.

New Zealand squad:

1 Joseph Manu, 24 Sebastian Kris, 3 Marata Niukore, 4 Peta Hiku, 19 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; 6 Dylan Brown, 14 Kieran Foran; 15 Moses Leota, 9 Brandon Smith, 10 James Fisher-Harris (C), 12 Kenny Bromwich, 17 Briton Nikora, 20 Isaac Liu, 11; Isaiah Papali’I, 16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 22 Jeremy Marshall-King, 23 Scott Sorensen; 21 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 8 Jesse Bromwich

York, New Zealand, October 14, 2022 – New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire has made only one change to the side used against Mate Ma’a Tonga in June for Sunday’s opening Pool C Rugby League World Cup match against Lebanon at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium (7.30pm kick-off local time).

Returning in the centres is Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who was used there in the 2019 Tests against Australia and Great Britain but missed the midseason clash against the Tongans.

Maguire’s 17-man line-up includes four players who featured in the NRL grand final with Penrith front rower James Fisher-Harris starting and fellow prop Moses Leota on the bench. Parramatta’s Dylan Brown is again at standoff and Isaiah Papali’i in the second row while Marata Niukore, who made his New Zealand debut in the centres against Tonga, is in the extended 19-man squad.



Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Sunday 16 October 2022 7:30pm (Local) 

Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT – Live on Spark Sport


1 Joseph MANU # 815
2 Ronaldo MULITALO # 824
21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
4 Peta HIKU # 781
5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
6 Dylan BROWN # 826
7 Jahrome HUGHES # 819
8 Jesse BROMWICH (c) # 775
9 Brandon SMITH # 816
10 James FISHER-HARRIS # 801
11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
13 Joseph TAPINE # 800
14 Kieran FORAN # 757
15 Moses LEOTA # 827
16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
17 Briton NIKORA # 818
19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
3 Marata NIUKORE # 825

Leeds, New Zealand, October 5, 2022 – Thomas Leulaui will be surrounded by former New Zealand teammates when he ends his decorated 20-season career leading the Kiwis in their Rugby League World Cup warm-up match against the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Saturday (6.00pm kick-off local time; 6.00am Sunday NZT).

After Leuluai announced his decision to retire at the end of the 2022 Super League season, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire invited the 37-year-old to finish his playing days with a poignant final appearance in the New Zealand jersey.

Maguire has named a powerful line-up including 10 players who were Kiwi teammates during Leuluai’s 40-Test career from 2003-2017 – Jordan Rapana, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich, Isaac Liu, Joseph Tapine, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Dean Whare.

Making their New Zealand debuts will be Canberra centre Sebastian Kris and Canterbury Bankstown hooker Jeremy Marshall-King plus Willie Isa, the ex-Toa Samoa international. The 32-year-old joins his Wigan teammate Leuluai and 2012-2017 Kiwi Whare – now with Les Catalans – as one of the three Super League guest players.

The Kiwis will be without the suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves plus fullback Joseph Manu. Also not considered were Penrith’s NRL premiership-winning trio James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen as well as Parramatta’s beaten grand finalists Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore. They’re due to join the squad in Leeds on Saturday in time to watch the game.

Saturday’s occasion reprises the 2015 Headingley encounter between the Kiwis and Leeds when the Rhinos emotionally farewelled New Zealanders Ali Lauitiiti and Kylie Leuluai in a game the visitors won 34-16.

This time not only will the Kiwis give Leuluai a special farewell but the Rhinos will also do the same for one of their fan favourites Adam Cuthbertson (37), who has finished his career after more than 300 appearances in the NRL and the Super League.

Leuluai has made almost 500 top level appearances including his 40 Tests, more than 330 games for Wigan and 85 in two stints with the Vodafone Warriors after starting out with the club as a 17-year-old in 2003.

Saturday’s match further cements a link between the two opponents and the famous Headingley ground which now dates back 115 years. It was on October 26, 1907, that the trailblazing All Golds beat Leeds 8-2 in the first of 12 matches between two. New Zealand holds an 11-1 winning advantage.


  • It has been confirmed Saturday’s match has been picked up by Sky’s streaming platform Sky Sport Next. It will be available to view on youtube.com free of charge on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuhXSy_OCvE
  • Spark Sport is the official broadcast partner of RLWC21. It will broadcast all 61 official Rugby League World Cup matches live with free-to-air delayed coverage on Three and ThreeNow.




Auckland, New Zealand, September 14, 2022 – New Zealand Rugby League selectors have added 10 players to the Kiwis’ mid-year Test line-up in a 34-man wider squad to prepare for the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom starting next month.

Among the additions are experienced Kiwis Shaun Johnson, Kodi Nikorima and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves along with Corey Harawira-Naera, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who all made their New Zealand Test debuts in 2019.

Also included are Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King and Parramatta Eels winger Bailey Simonsson, both selected in the Kiwis’ squad for the 2019 World Nines in Sydney.

The only two new faces are in-form Canberra centres Sebastian Kris (23) and Matthew Timoko (22) who have been instrumental in the Raiders’ surge into week two of the NRL finals after eliminating Melbourne Storm 28-20 on Saturday night.

Of the 25 players named in the extended squad for the 26-6 win over Mate Ma’a Tonga in June only Gold Coast hooker Erin Clark isn’t included after being ruled out following knee surgery.

Seven of the players are yet to make their Test debuts for the Kiwis – Kris, Timoko, Marshall-King, Simonsson, Griffin Neame, Jordan Riki and Scott Sorensen – but Neame, Riki and Sorensen were in camp for the Tonga Test.

“We wanted to name a wider squad so we have all options covered while the NRL finals are playing out,” said Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire.

“We’re excited about the depth of players available and the form they’re in. The vast majority of them are in sides that made it into the finals which is a real positive as we look ahead to the tournament.”

The Kiwis are due to assemble in Sydney on September 27 where they’ll train for two days before flying to England on September 30. Players selected from the two teams in the grand final will travel separately the following week.

The New Zealanders will warm up for their World Cup campaign with a match against the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on October 8 when 2008 World Cup winner Thomas Leuluai will be guest captain in the final match of his decorated career before retiring.

The Kiwis will then move to their RLWC base in York. Their opening Pool C match is against Lebanon in Warrington on October 16 followed by Jamaica in Hull on October 22 and Ireland in Leeds on October 28.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for November 4,5 and 6, the semifinals on November 11 and 12 and the final at Old Trafford in Manchester on November 19.




JESSE BROMWICH Melbourne Storm
DYLAN BROWN Parramatta Eels
KIERAN FORAN Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
PETA HIKU North Queensland Cowboys
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm
SHAUN JOHNSON Vodafone Warriors
SEBASTIAN KRIS* Canberra Raiders
MOSES LEOTA Penrith Panthers
ISAAC LIU Gold Coast Titans
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters
JEREMY MARSHALL-KING* Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
TE MAIRE MARTIN Brisbane Broncos
KEN MAUMALO Wests Tigers
RONALDO MULITALO Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
GRIFFIN NEAME* North Queensland Cowboys
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
KODI NIKORIMA South Sydney Rabbitohs
MARATA NIUKORE Parramatta Eels
ISAIAH PAPALI’I Parramatta Eels
JORDAN RAPANA Canberra Raiders
JORDAN RIKI* Brisbane Broncos
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm
SCOTT SORENSEN* Penrith Panthers
JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders
MATTHEW TIMOKO* Canberra Raiders

 By James Perry

Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand has changed its name to Whutupōro Rīki Whaikaha o Aotearoa as a way to encapsulate what it represents.

Whutupōro Rīki Whaikaha Aotearoa founder and chairperson Sandra Hickey says the idea to adopt a Māori name wasn’t taken lightly, and enlisted the help of Keri Opai and, subsequently, Kahurangi Tibble.

“We’ve really been focusing within our New Zealand squad camps on many of the concepts such as manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, all of these concepts we’ve brought in to produce those values in our squad and as an organisation.

“In the English language, and I’m not steeped in this in any way but the words are just black and white. They don’t encapsulate a lot, whereas the Māori language and Pasifika languages, those words say a lot and that’s really what I was looking for.

“I managed to track Keri online and he was so lovely and so receptive and really understood where we were coming from, that we didn’t just want to make something up to tick a box. It really needed to mean a lot, it needed to have some history to it and some really good deep meaning to it.”

Head coach Raymond Greaves (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Tara) says the name change was kept under wraps until now, with the players only finding out at this weekend’s training camp in Auckland, as they build up to the Physical Disability World Cup in the UK later this year.

Positive starting point

“As Sandra alluded to, I’ve been focusing a lot on whakawhanaungatanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga. And I feel that the progress that we’ve made over these last few months, that’s really starting to show within the squad. Personally, I feel really proud of what has been achieved. Unveiling this new name that encapsulates that is amazing.”

One of the immediate changes they both hope to gather from the change in name from “physical disability” to “whaikaha” is a positive starting point of the new name, not only for the players and their whānau, but the wider community. Hickey, whose daughter has a disability, is well aware of the negative connotations that come with that word.

“Whaikaha comes from such a strength-based perspective. I’m very well entrenched in that negative medical kind of model of disability as we get to experience it. So to be able to give a whole new name and introduce it into people’s mindsets is going to be amazing. It’s such an empowering word.”

Whaikaha means to have strength, ability and to be enabled.

Greaves, who has been involved with PDRL for the past five years says from the moment Opai and Tibble explained the meaning of whaikaha it has felt right.

“It just added so much impetus for Physical Disability Rugby League. To be able to have a new kupu for it just made it so much more worthwhile.”

‘I don’t see a disability’

He says as an able-bodied person he came into the PDRL whānau at a “tumultuous time” in his own life, and is looking forward to giving back to his players as much as he has got from them.

“It’s going to be hard to keep my emotions in check. The past four years has been heading in the right direction. I say to our team every week at this stage in the short career of playing physical disability rugby league, ‘We’re trailblazing, we’re setting the tone for the young whaikaha coming through. What we do today is going to establish tomorrow what they experience.’

“It took me maybe two months or so [of coaching] before I actually realised that the one person there who had a disability was me because my mind couldn’t work out how to work with this group of people, who had physical disabilities. And at the end of the day I worked it out that they just wanted to be treated like ‘normal’ people and loved like a ‘normal’ person. As soon as that clicked in my mind, I realised that I have no right to judge any book by its cover. Who are we to say that you can’t do this?

“I don’t see a disability. All I see is as a person.”

A squad of 23 will head over to England at the end of October to play in the PDRL World Cup with matches against Australia, England and Wales, and more than half of the players will be Māori. Greaves has boldly predicted his team has a 99% chance of becoming the first ever to lift the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup.

To donate to their first-ever World Cup campaign, please click here.

July 18, 2022

In a momentous constitutional meeting following New Zealand Rugby League’s (NZRL) AGM, overdue constitutional changes have been passed to elevate Aotearoa NZ Māori Rugby League (ANZMRL) to full voting member status.

Furthermore, the Chair of ANZMRL now has a permanent and dedicated seat on NZRL’s Board.

These historic constitutional changes result from ongoing efforts to deepen and better honour the partnership between NZRL and ANZMRL.

Previously, ANZMRL has been an Associate Member of NZRL. As such, did not have a vote or any other governance status within NZRL other than attending the AGM. NZRL’s Constitution also made no mention of Te Tiriti or tikanga Māori.

This in no way honoured ANZMRL’s long-standing history and influence on the game or embraced the partnership that should have existed between the two entities for some time now.

ANZMRL has a long and proud history dating back to the start of rugby league in New Zealand. The first national Māori team was assembled in 1908, and in October 1934, the original New Zealand Māori Rugby League Control Board formed in Huntly.

ANZMRL has continued to grow and flourish over the past 19 years, developing into a leading Māori community sport entity in Aotearoa. The kaupapa of celebrating being Māori, as Māori, for Māori, by Māori using Māori Rugby League as the vehicle, is widely acknowledged.

NZRL’s Constitution will now be amended to uphold the mana of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the principles of Partnership, Protection and Participation and to promote, support and foster te iwi Māori mo ona tikanga.

“Better honouring bi-cultural governance, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and the role and influence Māori rugby league has on our game is long overdue,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“It is a great feeling to be able to formally recognise the incontrovertible role ANZMRL plays in our game and make meaningful constitutional changes to honour and respect that role.

“Personally, I have found this process one of the most rewarding outcomes of my sports administration career. Working with JD and his team to fully understand the significant contribution ANZMRL make to our game both historically and in recent years has been invaluable.”

“Ki te kotahi te kakaho ka whati, ki te kapuia e kore e whatiAlone we can be broken, standing together we are invincible,” says Chairman of ANZMRL John Devonshire.

“A tremendous initiative that some may say is well overdue,” he adds.

“Nevertheless, it is happening today, and for that, we as a Māori rugby league whanau are grateful and acknowledge the current NZRL officials that have been brave enough and sincere about recognising the part Māori play in the game.

“It is in times like this you reflect on those tupuna (ancestors) who set the kaupapa on its haerenga (journey) many years ago, all those whānau that have contributed to our Māori rugby league kaupapa, over the past 114 years.

“It is right that our tamariki mokopuna have an environment to aspire to and that they feel appreciated and valued for the next 114 years. For this historic occasion, we simply say thank you.”

16 July 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) held its annual general meeting on Saturday, where women’s rugby league great Honey Hireme-Smiler MNZM was welcomed as an Appointed Director to the NZRL Board.

Hireme-Smiler, a dual international, has been an exceptional flag bearer for New Zealand women’s rugby league.

The former Kiwi Fern’s captain boasts an impressive 18-year professional playing career which includes 32 Tests for the Kiwi Ferns, two World Cup victories, and a place in the NRL women’s team of the decade (2010s).

The Kiwi Fern legend is well steeped in the community game, playing for Hamilton City Tigers and representing Wai-Coa-Bay at the 2019 NZRL National Women’s Tournament. She then led the Kiwi Ferns to World Cup Nines glory before retiring at the end of the 2019 season.

The three-time Kiwi Fern Player of the Year was awarded the inaugural Veronica White Medal for her outstanding contribution to the community through rugby league and was later appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the code.

The Putaruru-born star has previous governance experience as an emerging Director for Waikato Rugby and continues to give back via coaching, mentoring, and her numerous ambassador roles, including as a senior disability sport advisor with the Halberg Foundation.

She was recently selected as one of 16 women’s coaches around the country enrolled in the High-Performance Sport New Zealand’s (HPSNZ) Te Hāpaitanga programme and, in her spare time, works as a dual-code presenter and commentator for Sky Sport.

“Honey is an exceptional addition to the NZRL Board,” says NZRL Chairman Hugh Martyn.

“She is a voice for many who play our game, and she is well respected in the New Zealand sporting community. Her passion for the women’s and disability space and her experience at a high-performance and grassroots level will see her bring valuable insight and direction to the organisation.”

Hireme-Smiler’s election also maintains NZRL’s 40% self-identifying female board composition.

Incumbent Director Grant Stapleton has been reappointed for a further four-year term.

Martyn said, “Grant has been on the NZRL board since 2019 and has been a key member of this team. We are extremely privileged to have him for another four years.”


THE NZRL BOARD IS Hugh Martyn (Chair), Howie Tamati (President), Natasha Tere (Deputy Chair), Justin Leydesdorff, Tawera Nikau, Jeni Pearce, Grant Stapleton and Honey Hireme-Smiler.


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 media@nzrl.co.nz


The competition closes Thursday 9th June.


The Prize

  • Enjoy the NZ v Tonga doubleheader from Mt Smart’s East Lounge.
  • A three-course plated meal (set entrée, alternate drop main, set dessert) and post-match supper.
  • Pre and post match lounge entertainment and giveaways
  • Additional beverages are available via a cash bar or pre-arranged bar tab.
  • Travel and accommodation not included.


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)

14 December 2021

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

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 look back at the legend’s 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.

Benji Marshall

Date of Birth: 25 February 1985
Place of Birth: Whakatane, NZ
Position: Five-eighth/Halfback
Height: 183cm
Weight: 92kg
Junior Club: Keebra Park
Clubs: 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:

South Island Men – Southland Rams, West Coast Chargers, Otago Whalers and Canterbury Bulls

Central Men – Waikato Mana, Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions and Wellington Orcas

Northern Men – Akarana Falcons, Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays

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.

Northern Women – Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays

Central Women – Mid Central Vipers, Upper Central Stallions, Wellington Orcas, Canterbury Women

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.

Please note:

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

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
Howie Tamati and Issac Luke – 2014

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

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.

2014 Four Nations

“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.”

2005 Junior Kiwis

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.”

Issac Luke

Rabbitohs (2007-2015) – 188 NRL games
Warriors (2016-2019) – 83 NRL games
Dragons (2020) – 3 NRL games
Broncos (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

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.”

To register your school’s interest in the North and South Island Kiwi Tag Tournaments, please click here – https://www.sporty.co.nz/viewform/168162

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.

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
  • Dally M Captain of the Year – 2020

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

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

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.

William “Bill” Mann

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.

Des Michael O’Sullivan

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 Robert James Law

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

  • NZRL announce a long-term partnership with Sky and the NRL through to the end of 2027.
  • More than a broadcast deal, it’s a partnership with a focus on nurturing and growing the game at all levels.

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[1] 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.

[1] 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.

Upcoming Roadshows

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:

  1. Governance and administration – Upskilling Districts and Clubs in governance, administration and management, especially around funding and applying for grants to support sustainability.
  • Cultural awareness and learning – Delivery of programmes including workshops in first language, cultural learning and lessons on treaty obligations, awareness programmes including a focus on minority groups, ensuring a consistent approach with Sport NZ’s plan on disability, and women and girls.
  • Development of the game – Upskilling coaches, referees and match officials, including technical training and softer skills such as resilience training for high-pressure roles critical to game development. New competitions and tournaments to increase participation primarily at the rangatahi age, such as district U16/18s as well as leveraging off different game formats such as League Tag, Kiwi Tag and, Ki O Rahi.
  • Community and wellbeing – Using rugby league ambassadors, in conjunction with local specialist providers, to support communities through Zone, Districts and Clubs on areas such as physical and mental health, nutrition, injury prevention and safety, safeguarding of vulnerable people, the importance of and providing a potential pathway to further education or work scheme providers.

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.”

New Zealand Rugby League is advertising for the new Ngā Ringa Āwhina support team roles here – https://nzrl.co.nz/about-us/careers/ – visit the link to find out more information about each role and how to apply.

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:

  • A contact tracing register must be kept at all clubs and able to be accessed quickly. NZRL recommend the NZ Covid Tracer app with QR codes clearly displayed on entry and exit points.
  • Physical distancing is required at all times; this is mandatory for those not participating on the field (2 metres).
  • Rugby League activity must abide by the 100 person gathering limit. PLEASE NOTE – there are no crowds for this Sunday’s National 20s match at Jerry Collins Stadium in Wellington.
  • Participants should wash and dry their hands before and after training and playing; equipment should be sanitised and dried before and after playing. No one should be participating (or leaving home) if they show any signs of being sick, displaying symptoms of COVID-19, awaiting a test, or if required to self-isolate.

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 admin@nzrl.co.nz

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 Feb
Auckland Blue v Central Districts – 2pm Opaheke Auckland 
Waicoa Bay v Auckland White – 4pm Rotorua International Stadium 

Sunday 28th Feb
South Island v Northland – 12pm Nga Puna Wai Christchurch

Click here to keep up with all National 20s draws and results

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.

Most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years

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. 

  • Regularly disinfect all surfaces that you can touch, particularly the rugby league ball
  • All participants must regularly wash and dry hands with soap/detergent and or hand sanitiser eg before and after training or games, after using the toilet and after coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid using changing rooms. Come to the ground ready to train or play and return home immediately after trainings or games.
  • Clubs and teams must provide adequate hand sanitiser and hand washing amenities with soap or detergent at the facility and ensure signage is visible encouraging good hygiene
  • Cough into elbow, avoid touching face
  • Stay home if you feel unwell, are awaiting a COVID-19 test or have visited a location of interest relating to a recent COVID-19 case
  • Don’t share water bottles and do not use team water bottles
  • Avoid spitting and coughing
  • Ensure any facility has extensive signage, NZ Covid tracer scan codes and information

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

December 16, 2020

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.”


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

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

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 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.

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.”

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:

New Zealand 18s Clubs 
NameAmateur Club
1Brown Seeti KuresaMarist Saints
2Caleb ThompsonNorthcote Tigers
3Chase WilliamsTaupo Phoenix
4Daeon AmituanaiWhiti Te Ra
5Elam PayneMarist Saints
6Jarney Proctor-HarwoodManurewa Marlins
7Manaia Ngataki-MatthewsTurangawaewae
8Rawiri MatthewTauranga Whalers
9Sam McintyreNorthcote Tigers
10Sebastyan JackMarist Saints
11Sione MoalaRichmond Rovers
12Tamehana Paru RuManurewa Marlins
13Tamiro ArmstrongPikiao Warriors
14Te Ohomauri RapanaTaniwharau
15Tea-Rani Woodman-TuhoroTakahiwai Warriors
16TJ DeveryTe Atutu Roosters
17Tray LolesioOtara Scorpions
18Tumatauenga Te KoiTurangawaewae
New Zealand 18s Schools 
1Ali LeiatauaKings College
2Arama KiteManukura
3Austin AndersonHamilton Boys High School
4Cassius CowleyMt. Albert Grammar
5Eric VaafusuagaKings College
6Esom IokaKelston Boys High School
7Ethan FaitauaShirley Boys High School
8Filipo Whitehouse-OpetaiaOtago Boys High School
9Jeremiah AsiSt. Peters College
10Maea Tema-SchmidtScots College
11Matua RobinsonNew Plymouth Boys High
12Montel LisalaSt. Thomas of Canterbury
13Sheldon Tairea-RapanaManukura
14Tony TafaKelston Boys High School
15Tyson ChaseHato Paora College
16Uriah TuliShirley Boys High School
17Vaka SikaheleSt. Pauls College
18Zyon Maiu’uKelston Boys High School

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:

Alesana MAILEILinwoodCanterbury/Southern
Ben PENIPapatoetoeCounties Manukau
Benaiah IOELUMt. AlbertAkarana
Cassius TIAMaristAkarana
Demitric SIFAKULAOtahuhuCounties Manukau
Dickie TEREPOOtaraAuckland
Felix FA’ATILIHornbyCanterbury/Southern
Francis MANULELEUAOtahuhuCounties Manukau
Henry TEUTAUMaristAkarana
Jacob LABANRandwickWellington
Jayden HARRISGlenoraAkarana
Jeremiah MATAUTIAOtaraCounties Manukau
Matthew LOGOPATILinwoodCanterbury/Southern
Nathaniel TANGIMATAITIMt AlbertAkarana
Salesi FOKETIManurewaCounties Manukau
Tamakaimoana WHAREAORERETe PukeCoastline/Upper Central
Te Hurinui Apanui TWIDLETurangawaewaeWaikato/Upper Central
Tre FOTUMaristAkarana
Xavi TAELEOtumoetaiCoastline/Upper Central

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.

September 3, 2020

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)

COVID-19: All Auckland rugby league activity remains postponed as Alert Level 3 is extended

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:

  • A contact tracing register must be kept for all participants and spectators and able to be accessed quickly. NZRL recommend IDMe app.
  • Physical distancing is required at all times, this is mandatory for those not participating on the field (2 metres).
  • As it stands, Rugby League activity must abide by 100 person gathering / spectator limit (subject to Government updates).
  • Participants should wash and dry their hands before and after playing; equipment should be sanitised and dried before and after playing. No one should be participating (or leaving home) if they show any signs of being sick, displaying symptoms of COVID-19, awaiting a test, or if required to self-isolate.

Please refer to your appropriate District and Club for more specific information on upcoming competitions and fixtures.

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 14-16 round cancelled for all grades

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:

  • New Zealand vs Lebanon (men’s) – Halliwell Jones, Warrington (Sunday 24th October) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs Jamaica (men’s) – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds (Saturday 30th October) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs Ireland (men’s) – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds (Friday 5th November) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs France (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Wednesday 10th November) – 17.00pm
  • New Zealand vs Cook Islands (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Sunday 14th November) – 17.00pm
  • Australia vs New Zealand (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Thursday 18th November) – 19.30pm

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.”

Director Positions

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:

  • A strong connection to the game of rugby league either through playing, administration, management, coaching or other roles within the sport.
  • Clear understanding of governance functions and principles
  • Occupational skills that add value to the Board business
  • A strong network across the business and /or league community

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

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).

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:

  • Recent experience in governance as a director or board member.
  • A strong connection to the game of rugby league either through playing, administration, management, coaching or other roles within the sport.
  • Experience with business leadership in the private sector.
  • Commercial skills that add value to the Board’s business.
  • A strong network with demonstrated communications skills across the business and /or league community.

Time commitment and term

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.

Terms are four years, and directors are eligible for re-appointment for one further term.

To Apply

To apply for this role please click here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MJSHKNH

The closing date for applications is 19 June 2020.

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.






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


Who is this war party      


It is the Kiwi war party


I draw my power.        


From the beginning of time


I draw my strength.      


From my ancestors.


Here stands my House.  


Be careful


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 aaron.titter@bdo.co.nz

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.

Greg Peters



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:

  • Get Ready
  • Prepare to Play
  • Return to Play

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:

  • A partner support fund ($6 million) to help Sport NZ and HPSNZ investment partners maintain critical roles and business functions which are at risk due to COVID-19
  • An exceptional system support fund ($1 million) to protect key national organisations who are not normal recipients of Sport NZ investment
  • A physical activity fund ($3 million) to promote play, active recreation and sport opportunities to those who most need it (e.g. people who are less active, disabled or live in high deprivation areas)

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.


Useful PDFs:

Community Resilience Fund Factsheet

Public FAQ

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:

  • Staying away from the club if you are experiencing flu like symptoms
  • Regularly washing hands with soap (recommended) or an antibacterial wash
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Bringing and using personal drink bottles (not sharing)
  • Limiting spitting
  • Cleaning surfaces regularly (e.g. hit shields, balls etc)
  • Limiting person-to-person contact (conduct any essential meetings online whenever possible)

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.


Davis-Welsh, Harden lead Indigenous Women’s All Stars to glory

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.


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 – richard.maguire@concepts.co.nz

Amy Downes – amy.downes@concepts.co.nz

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.”

The Roadshows are a free event and open to all members of the community.


Upcoming Roadshows

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