14 October 2021
Our oldest living Kiwi #341, 98-year-old Raymond James Cranch, 1951-52 Kiwis tourist, former Auckland prop/second-rower and one of rugby league’s most beloved figures has sadly passed away.
Cranch, 98, was New Zealand’s oldest surviving Kiwi. And by virtually every account of anyone who knows the genial stalwart, he’d be a guaranteed starter in a hypothetical grand final of the game’s friendliest people.
Cutting his teeth in rugby league with the Parnell-based Akarana club as a 13-year-old in 1936, Cranch joined Mt Albert the following season and became one of that club’s greatest servants.
Cranch went on to serve in WWII, training in Maadi in Egypt and fighting in Montecassino in Italy. He received a Year of the Veteran Certificate of Appreciation for his Service given to New Zealand during World War II by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister Helen Clark.
On his return, Ray helped Mt Albert to Fox Memorial success in 1947 and scored a try against NSWRL grand final winners Balmain in an ‘Australasian’ showdown of club champions.
Cranch became an Auckland representative regular (and captain in 1950), starring in the province’s 1948 win over the Kiwis, who had just returned from a gruelling tour of Britain and France. Three years later, he received the opportunity to make a Northern Hemisphere trip of his own, selected in the 1951-52 Kiwis squad.
The presence of indomitable front-row pairing Cliff Johnson and Bill McLennan, crack second-row duo Frank Mulcare and Charlie McBride, and outstanding Canterbury lock Alistair Atkinson kept Cranch out of the Test side – with the quintet playing all five internationals against Great Britain and France – but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless.
“They were just coming off wartime food rationing, and there was not much good meat around,” Cranch told revered New Zealand journalist, author and historian John Coffey.
“Only the team that was playing the next game got the good stuff. The midweek players, the ‘ham and eggers’, got the rest. We played the continuous tackle rule, and the English teams would keep the ball for 10, even 20, minutes.”
Mediocre nourishment and dour football notwithstanding, the tour produced the customary off-field shenanigans for Cranch and his teammates.
“I remember Cyril Eastlake and Andy Berryman, with napkins on their heads, doing their doctor and nurse act performing surgery on a banana. It was hilarious,” Cranch recalled.
“Over in France, we were travelling down a long narrow road with poplar trees on both sides when (co-manager) Dave Wilkie popped up and asked, ‘Where’s Henry’ (Des White)? He was missing. We had to go another five miles before we could turn the old bus around.
“Going back the other way, we met up with a taxi and Whitey hopped out. He had slept in. When he went down to the hotel reception the girl said, ‘Kiwis are gone’. Des didn’t know any French but he managed to get a taxi and set off after us.”
An elbow injury suffered during the French leg cut Cranch’s tour short and provided him with ongoing problems, but he played on until 1954 before hanging up the boots.
Cranch could then begin the next and most enduring chapter of his rugby league story, moving into administration. He was made chairman of the Auckland Schoolboys Rugby League board of control in 1960 and managed the first New Zealand Schoolboys team on their tour of Australia four years later. Roles with the ARL senior board of control and as manager of the 1973 New Zealand Colts, again touring Australia, followed for the ever-popular Cranch.
“Mt Albert said they would like to nominate me for the Auckland schoolboy board of control. I felt I should put something back into the game, and that’s where it all started,” he said modestly.
An Aucklander and Kiwi through and through, Cranch’s genial nature meant that he wasn’t averse to helping out the ‘enemy’ on the odd occasion.
When the great Australian forward Dick Thornett appeared for Auckland as a guest player in a match against New Zealand in 1969 to mark the NZRL’s diamond jubilee, his boots were ruined after leaving them in the Carlaw Park boiler room to dry.
Requiring size 13 boots, Thornett was in a jam until Cranch, who worked in the footwear industry, came to the rescue with a new pair.
Cranch’s selflessness and enthusiasm to take on roles with rugby league is legendary.
Secretary-manager for the Auckland Leagues Club for more than 20 years, Cranch later served as president and was made a life member. He was a long-serving selector and manager of Auckland teams, filled gaps on judicial committees and worked with referees.
Away from his first sporting love, Cranch also played softball and was involved with the Piha Surf Life Saving Club.
An Auckland Rugby League life member, Cranch received his NZRL life membership in 2003 and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Ray Cranch will forever live on as one of rugby league’s most admirable servants, a proud Kiwi and a selfless hero, who, if you ever had the privilege of meeting, would have made an everlasting and memorable impact.
May you rest in peace Ray, thank you for your years of love and service to our great game.
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.” Ray Cranch, 2021
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.”
07 October 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup Wider Squad.
Despite the absence of international football over the last two years, 2022 will be the busiest international calendar in recent time, as NZRL work towards a June Pacific Test and Trans-Tasman clash, all before the October 2022 World Cup campaign.
After his impressive club season, Premiership-winning Panther and Dally M Prop of the Year, James Fisher-Harris unsurprisingly made the list, as did Dally M Backrower of the Year and Eels’ golden buy, Isaiah Papali’i. Papali’i is joined by fellow Parramatta playmakers Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.
Star Rooster’s centre Joey Manu had one of his best seasons with 12 line breaks, ten tries and 141 metres per game. He joins veteran Kiwi prop and Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who made 1280 post-contact metres in 23 appearances for 2021.
Melbourne’s Reimis Smith locked in his selection with 14 tries this year, as he joins a plethora of Kiwi Storm talent, including standout half Jahrome Hughes, who was instrumental in a well-oiled Melbourne side that ran rampant throughout 2021.
Corey Harawira-Naera returns after a dominant performance in his first full season at Canberra, and departing Shark Shaun Johnson is joined by Cronulla teammates Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Briton Nikora.
Fresh names to join the frame include Bronco’s back-rower and former Junior Kiwis captain Jordan Riki, who enters the squad after a solid debut season. Titan’s Hooker and former Manurewa Marlin Erin Clark gets the call up alongside dynamic youngster Josh Schuster and Waikato born Morgan Harper after a breakthrough seasons with Manly.
“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team”, says Head Coach Michael Maguire.
“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”
The 2021 season saw many Kiwi eligible players stamp their mark on the NRL, encouraging selectors to name a ‘Notable Players’ list that Head Coach Maguire has deemed “the future of the Kiwis team.”
“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team,” says Maguire.
“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.
“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”
1 September 2021
Another fantastic NRL Premiership concludes with the Penrith Panthers and South Sydney Rabbitohs going head-to-head in the Grand Final. Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will serve as host of not only the two teams but a plethora of Kiwi players plying their trade on the big stage.
Sixteen years separate his visits to the big dance and rugby league icon Benji Marshall will be looking to repeat his grand final success. Initially approaching Wayne Bennett for a coaching role at Souths, Bennett, in turn, offered Kiwi #717 a spot in the squad as he displayed his ability to still play on a high level. This season, Marshall has been a key figure off the bench for the Rabbitohs, bringing experience to the second unit. The man from Whakatane has been hailed as one of the greatest to compete in the competition, with opposing five-eight and Junior Kiwi Jarome Luai claiming Benji to be his idol and modelling his game after him. Marshall will be crucial for Souths to win their first NRL Premiership since 2014.
Hailing from Northland, James Fisher-Harris (#801) has turned himself into one of the best props in the game. His tireless work on both attack and defence, to go with his uncanny ability to break tackles, has earned him two consecutive Dally M Prop of the Year awards.
The Whangarei Marist junior averaged 154 metres per game and about 100 post-contact metres on his way to his second Grand Final in two years. A leader for this young Penrith squad, Fisher-Harris, has been instrumental in the success of the western Sydney outfit and will be looking for redemption on Sunday.
Starting on the Rabbitohs wing this Sunday is Jaxson Paulo, who strangely has a similar path to this stage as teammate Benji Marshall. Born in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore, Paulo moved to the Gold Coast at a young age and attended Keebra Park State High School, including alumni Benji Marshall. Paulo moved from the Titans to Souths and made his debut in 2020 in round ten. The winger has scored 13 tries in 24 appearances, including two against Manly in the 2021 Preliminary as they advanced to the grand finale.
2021 was a renaissance for Taane Milne. The Fijian international struggled for games at the Warriors, which paid dividends to South Sydney. Milne came into the squad mid-season and went on a run of eight tries in 12 games, including a hat-trick against North Queensland in round 17. Auckland born Milne has also played for the Junior Kiwis, where he lined up with James Fisher-Harris and the New Zealand Māori residents. Milne will serve as Souths 18th man on Sunday.
New Zealand eligible players: Spencer Leniu, Steven Marsters, Patrick Mago.
Previous Junior Kiwis: James Fisher-Harris, Taane Milne, Steven Marsters, Jarome Luai.
Kiwi Internationals: Benji Marshall #717, James Fisher-Harris #801
1 October 2021
As seen on raiders.com.au
Sia Soliola has announced his retirement from professional rugby league today after 17 seasons playing the game at the highest level. Soliola made his International debut on October 14th, 2006 and went on to play 12 times for New Zealand.
“I’m at ease with everything now,” Soliola said. “There’s a few mixed emotions, I’m excited and a bit nervous but relieved to make the decision to leave the game which has given me a lot and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.
Soliola has played a combined total of 336 matches across the NRL and Super League, with 137 of those matches for the Canberra Raiders over 7 seasons.
His announcement headlines several players departing the club playing roster at the end of the 2021 season, with Dunamis Lui, Siliva Havili, Ryan James, Darby Medlyn and Caleb Aekins also finishing their time at the club.
Soliola made his NRL debut for the Roosters in 2005 under Coach Ricky Stuart, and his career will finish under the same Coach who first gave him his opportunity to pursue his dream of playing rugby league at the highest level.
He arrived in Canberra in 2015 as part of a club rebuild under Coach Ricky Stuart after five years playing for St Helens in the Super League in England. His influence was immediate, and his contributions have helped the club achieve some wonderful successes in his time in green.
“When I first came here to this club and Ricky spoke about the vision and what he had regarding the playing group and the club as a whole, that’s what really excited me,” Soliola said “Especially being over at St Helens where I really enjoyed my time over there and everyone notices how the English Super League operates and how the crowds and communities come together and he wanted me to bring that energy and experience that I had over there and bring it to Canberra.
“Because I went so young when I went to Super League, I felt like I still had a fair bit of time to come back to the NRL. There was always that feeling in the back of your mind whether you could still do it or not, but I was excited with the challenge that was in front of me and I really wanted to do what I could to help influence the team when I came back to Australia.”
The first thing Soliola learned when he arrived was just how much connection the club had had with the game, the community and even his own family and this was something he wanted to be a part of.
“When I signed, I didn’t realise how much influence this club had outside the game itself. My family and friends and the generation I grew up with in the 90’s, my immediate family and parents really understood who guys like Loz (Daley) and Rick and Mal (Meninga) were and they were a big influence on that generation, and it was pretty cool,” he said. “Even knowing guys like Gerry (De La Cruz) before I came here and then learning on how big of a part he played here as Raider #3 was nice to uncover all of those stories and learn as much as I could.”
Soliola’s willingness to buy into the club and the community has seen him become one of the most loved and respected players in the club’s history, with his work off the field as equally as impressive as what he’s been able to achieve on the field for the club.
This culminated in 2019 when he was awarded the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal after the Raiders Grand Final appearance against the Roosters.
Soliola said his love for helping others and engaging with his community stems from his own life experiences and said his late mother Fialelei has been and always will be his inspiration for being someone who looks out for others.
“I have to pay tribute to my late mother who passed away this year, and with her being gone and as a family as a whole reflecting on her time here it made me really think about why I do the things I do,” Soliola said. “It’s really been a tribute to her and how she operated within our family. It’s no surprise that I followed in her footsteps and I contribute a lot of how I do things in my life to her.
“She’s always been the type to bring everybody in together and connecting people and getting an understanding of what we’re all about. She always wanted to see the bigger picture and so do I thanks to her.
On the field Soliola was a fierce competitor who always led from the front with his actions. He made an immediate impact when he arrived in 2015, winning the Meninga Medal in his first season and was part of the Raiders squad which made their first preliminary final in over two decades in 2016.
He said his first two years at the club was an opportunity to establish what the team was trying to do by connecting with the community and improving on-field performance, with the team taking some huge steps forward in that period.
“It meant we were moving in the right direction and we were doing the right things both on and off the field. When I first came here Rick was about getting the right people and connecting with the community first and that was a big push for the playing group,” he said. “Getting that respect back from the community and earning their trust again and then marrying it up with the performances on the field.”
Despite two disappointing seasons in 2017-18, Soliola said the belief within the squad was still strong and it was the foundation the club had set was the catalyst for what they were able to achieve by making the Grand Final in 2019.
“There was a lot of lessons to be learned through those years (2017-18), but we were always confident we were heading in the right direction and in 19 we were just the one game away from making all the difference,” Soliola said. “Even though we didn’t achieve the ultimate goal I have no regrets with my time here and I’m really excited with my next phase to try and help the club wherever I can.”
That opportunity now comes with the commencement of his new role in the club’s welfare and education team, a role which he has already commenced this year in a learning capacity.
Soliola will swap his footy boots for a laptop and will be tasked with the responsibility of passing on what he has learnt to help educate, inspire and guide the next generation of Raiders.
“I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life and working in this space,” Soliola said. “I’ve had the chance to do a little bit, but obviously Covid and the team relocating to Queensland prevented me doing too much, but I now get the opportunity to really harness it, and focus on it, and I’m excited to work with Andrew Bishop and David Thom in that space, and with guys like Dean Souter who have been in this area as well. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by all of that experience.”
Soliola said he’d always remember his time in green and wanted to make sure he thanked all of the clubs members, supporters and community members for their support over his time wearing the green jersey.
“To the members, supporters and the community I just want to really thank everyone for their support and just really embracing me. I really feel like a son here,” he said. “Whether I’m dropping off the kids to school or playing in the park those little memories and relationships I’ve built I hold very dear, and everyone has really being comfortable to approach me and treat me not so much as a player but as a friend and have a chat to them and that’s what I love about Canberra, it’s one big family.”
Sia Soliola Career First Grade Matches: 336NRL Career Matches: 229 (Raiders 137, Roosters 92)Super League Matches: 117 (St Helens)Representative Matches: 16 (New Zealand 12, Samoa 4)
As seen on rnz.co.nz
29th September 2021
Former New Zealand Warriors rugby league star Motu Tony was 14-years-old when he knew he wanted to play the sport professionally.
The Auckland Warriors were formed in 1995, and for the first time, there was a team he thought looked just like him.
“When the Warriors came into the [Australian Rugby League competition], the Winfield Cup in 1995, I would have been year nine then, but that’s when it sort of hit me like, hey, these guys, you know, some of those guys look like me in terms of being Polynesian or Samoan,” he said.
“They were playing the game every week and getting paid for it, so that’s when it dawned on me that this could be a career.”
The 40-year-old said teachers laughed at the idea of him dreaming of a life as a professional footballer, but for the Samoan Niuean from south Auckland, the goal was already set in stone.
“I understand it now when teachers ask you the question about what do you want to do when you leave school, and you tell them you want to play league, they laugh, they tell you to maybe go to university and do this and do that, but I wasn’t worried because I knew what I wanted to do.”
Five years later, Tony made his debut for the New Zealand Warriors, one of his most treasured memories over a professional playing career that spanned 12 years.
Motu Tony made his debut for the New Zealand Warriors in 2001. Photo: Supplied
“I started playing when I was like six, so that’s 13 years I’d been grinding and working towards this dream and it finally happened,” he said.
“I was terrified at first but then I got excited because I wanted to challenge myself against these guys that I’d seen on TV. Players like Stacey Jones, Jerry Seuseu, Ali Lauiti’iti, these guys were awesome players and I wanted to prove myself to them.”
“And you know, my family, my mum, she probably would have told everyone in Māngere that her son was playing for the Warriors too,” he quipped.
The General Manager of Football and High-Performance at New Zealand Rugby League played 55 games for the Warriors before a short stint at the Brisbane-based Broncos in 2004.
He moved to England where he played for the Castleford Tigers, before playing 100 games for Hull F.C, finishing his career with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2012.
He also played 13 games for the New Zealand Kiwi’s.
Looking back, the former international believes it’s a career that wouldn’t have kicked-off without the rugby league programme at his Auckland-based college, De La Salle.
The 1996 De La Salle First XIII brimmed with NRL talent. Photo: Instagram / Motu Tony
“Playing with those older guys had a massive effect on me,” he said.
“I was playing with older guys who were Junior Kiwis and in the Warriors system, and I got to see first-hand what you had to do to get to that level, but also just how you should be as a person.”
Former Warriors player and team-mate Tai Savea, who drowned while on a fishing trip at Port Waikato in 1998, was especially significant, he added.
“He was the captain of our De La Salle team and he had a massive impact on me and my rugby league career.”
“He was like a big brother and one of those guys who was always critiquing my game, always saying you should be doing this, or you should be training like that… those sort of things were invaluable to my career.”
Despite the absence of a rugby league team since 1999, the school has been a melting-pot for talent, which boasts the likes Jason Taumalolo, Jeff Lima, and Leeson Ah Mau to name a few.
After some help from another De La Salle old-boy and former NRL player, George Carmont, 2021 saw rugby league back on the paddock for the first time in 22 years.
But it came with some challenges.
De La Salle are back on the rugby league seen after 22 years. Photo: Supplied
“It was really difficult and there was a lot of opposition to it, but now that it’s come back I think people can see why we pushed for it and what it’s done for our community here in Māngere,” said Motu Tony.
“A lot of people weren’t aware that De La Salle hadn’t had a team for so long… and it was hard work because we were pretty much starting from scratch again, but it’s been real rewarding to see some progress both on and off the field.”
In their first year back, Carmont helped coach the team to win Auckland’s Senior A Grade Championship.
The victory means they advance to the Premiership grade in 2022, in a pool of prominent rugby league schools including St Paul’s College and Kelston Boys’ High School.
De La Salle’s First XIII were also scheduled to compete in New Zealand Rugby League’s secondary schools competition in late August, but it was cancelled because of Covid-19.
Motu Tony said it was just the beginning and he felt lucky to give back to a programme that heavily impacted his life.
De La Salle College were crowned Auckland’s 2021 Senior A Grade Champions in their return to the scene after 22 years. Photo: Supplied
“How lucky are we to get a chance to give back to the game, but to also hopefully help people in other parts of their lives too.”
“When you can see some of the changes that you’ve observed with some of the boys in your team to where they are now, that’s what makes it all rewarding for us.”
28 September, 2021
James Fisher-Harris (#801), Brandon Smith (#816) and Isaiah Papali’i (#817) all earned themselves 2021 Dally M Medal Awards last night, cementing themselves as the best NRL players in their respective positions for this season.
Fisher-Harris picked up his second consecutive Dally M Prop of the year, while Smith, Hooker of the Year, and Papali’i, Back Rower of the Year, earned their first-ever Dally M awards.
James Fisher-Harris continued his influential performances in the NRL, backing up last season with another strong year that included 154 metres per game and just under 100 post-contact metres. The Whangarei Marist junior has become one of the most consistent forwards in the game, and his tireless efforts on both attack and defence saw him rewarded with his second grand final berth in two years.
Waiheke Rams, Brandon Smith has transformed himself into a household name with his performances in the Melbourne Jersey this season. Taking the baton off of Cameron Smith, Brandon was exceptional for the Storm scoring 11 tries and setting up ten from dummy-half. His attacking instincts and controlled aggression gave Melbourne an excellent foundation in games and helped them to their 19-game win streak and Preliminary finals berth.
Kiwi #817 Isaiah Papali’i began to fill the potential and put the pieces of his game together. Dominant whether starting or coming off the Parramatta bench, Papali’i had a career year at his new club. Papali’I was among the top tacklers and post-contact metre earners in a strong season for Parramatta. He was also awarded the VB Hardest Working Player of the Year award, combining his talent and work ethic in what was a break-out season for the Te Atatu junior.
Congratulations also to Kiwis Joseph Manu (#815), Jahrome Hughes (#819), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (#755) and Sitili Tupounuia, who were nominated for awards.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS.
Dally M – Tom Trbejovic
Fullback – Tom Trbejovic
Wing – Brian To’o
Centre – Justin Olam
Centre – Matt Burton
Wing – Reuben Garrick
Five Eight – Cody Walker
Halfback – Nathan Cleary
Prop – James Fisher-Harris
Hooker – Brandon Smith
Prop – Payne Haas
Second Row – Isaiah Papali’i
Second Row – Viliame Kikau
Lock – Isaah Yeo
Coach – Craig Bellamy
Rookie of the year – Sam Walker
Captain of the year – James Tedesco
Top Points Scorer – Reuben Garrick
Top Try Scorer – Alex Johnston
Peter Frillingos Headline Moment – Melbourne Storm 19-match winning streak
Provan Summons – Josh Morris
Try of the Year – Tom Trbejovic
Tackle of the Year – Xavier Coates
Hardest Working Player of the Year – Isaiah Papali’I
21 September 2021
Kiwi #749, Issac Luke is saying goodbye to rugby league after 43 tests, 5 tries and 22 goals for his country, including one historic 08 World Cup and two Four Nations triumphs, forever cementing him a New Zealand Rugby League great.
“My dream was to always be a Kiwis player. The All Blacks are the pinnacle in New Zealand as it was always rugby throughout school, but I was told I couldn’t play 1st XV because I played too much like a league player, so I bled Black and White well before I put it on.”Issac Luke
“My dream was to always be a Kiwis player. The All Blacks are the pinnacle in New Zealand as it was always rugby throughout school, but I was told I couldn’t play 1st XV because I played too much like a league player, so I bled Black and White well before I put it on.”
Luke decided to hang up his boots, after a career where he achieved almost everything possible.
League has been his entire life since he was a teenager when he left Taranaki to chase his NRL dreams in Sydney.
“My goal was to give kids from where I came from pathways,” Luke tells the Herald. “I wasn’t big, or tall, but I had a bit of mongrel and skill.
“For someone from Hawera, even getting one [NRL] game was special. So getting to 286 and 43 tests, I am pretty content with what I have done.”
“Rugby league is all about playing for pride. I took Taranaki everywhere with me, the maunga often gave me energy. For me it was all about playing for your people, if I make it, Taranaki makes it, when I made the Kiwis, they made the Kiwis.”“With the Kiwis it’s all about leaving the jersey in a better place and I believe I did that.”Issac Luke
“Rugby league is all about playing for pride. I took Taranaki everywhere with me, the maunga often gave me energy. For me it was all about playing for your people, if I make it, Taranaki makes it, when I made the Kiwis, they made the Kiwis.”
“With the Kiwis it’s all about leaving the jersey in a better place and I believe I did that.”
Luke was a unique talent.
He had rough edges but was a wonderful player. Luke is arguably the best Kiwis hooker in history (Brandon Smith may take that mantle, but not yet) and was a dominant No 9 in the NRL.
He was a fearless competitor, who helped to change the sport with his dummy half running game, and at times even managed to overshadow Cameron Smith at his peak.
“I was fortunate to coach Issac at both club and at international level. He was a player that loved playing for the Kiwis as he was a very proud New Zealander. He always represented his family and country with great passion and will retire as one of the greats to wear the Black & White. Issac was also a great club man that helped South Sydney to their 21st GF win after 43yrs. “I will always remember Issac for his speed and deception around the ruck terrorising an opposition.”Kiwis Head Coach, Michael Maguire
“I was fortunate to coach Issac at both club and at international level. He was a player that loved playing for the Kiwis as he was a very proud New Zealander. He always represented his family and country with great passion and will retire as one of the greats to wear the Black & White. Issac was also a great club man that helped South Sydney to their 21st GF win after 43yrs.
“I will always remember Issac for his speed and deception around the ruck terrorising an opposition.”
He was part of a golden period for the Kiwis, with the 2008 World Cup victory and the 2010 and 2014 Four Nations triumphs. Luke was also a key figure in the Rabbitohs revival, which culminated in the 2014 grand final win, and he scored 50 tries and kicked 205 goals across his NRL career.
“If I was being picky, there are two things I wanted to achieve; get that milestone of 300 and go to the Dally M’s and bring something home,” says the 34-year-old.
“But I won an NRL premiership, a World Club Challenge, the NRL Nines, the Four Nations and a World Cup. I think I achieved enough.”
Luke rates Cameron Smith as his toughest foe and was proud to be recognised as the international hooker of the year (ahead of Smith) in 2013.
Jonathan Thurston was the toughest competitor – “by a country mile” – and Sam Burgess his best teammate.
“It was uncanny, from the first game I looked at him and he just knew what I was going to do,” says Luke. “From then on, every time I moved, he moved.”
Luke made his debut in 2007 against the Melbourne Storm.
“They got a tip during the week, ‘a young fella named Issac Luke was going to be debuting – he can’t tackle so run at him’. They sent all their forwards at me; I put Jeff Lima on his arse twice and Ben Cross once.”
Luke was Souths’ first choice rake before his 20th birthday and had some stunning seasons, including the nine-try 2010 campaign. The Rabbitohs reached consecutive preliminary finals in 2012 and 2013, before the 2014 breakthrough, though Luke was infamously suspended from the decider.
“When I heard ‘guilty’ my focus went on helping Api [Koroisau] get ready,” says Luke. “But I rang my dad and once I heard his voice I broke down. That was what we always dreamed about, one of his kids, or even someone from Taranaki….so to make it that far and not get to play was hard.
“It was tough, definitely tough. People even say today, I can’t believe you missed out on the grand final. But we won, so I’m all good with that.”
Luke will never forget the 2008 World Cup final, when the Kiwis shocked Australia, who had Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Smith, 34-20 at Suncorp Stadium.
He says it’s one of his favourite memories in the Black and White jersey.
“In 2005 I was playing Junior Kiwis with Sam Rapira, Greg Eastwood and Sika Manu and that night we were all the [interchange] bench,” says Luke. “I was 21 and we beat possibly the best Kangaroos team they have ever assembled.”
The 2014 Four Nations campaign was also special, as was captaining the Kiwis in 2015 and 2018.
That 2018 season – especially the early streak – and the haka for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the Dally M awards are his favourite Warriors memories.
Luke will stay close to the game in retirement, especially mentoring his kids.
His eldest son Adaquix (14) is a fullback at the Broncos academy, while Cruz (13) is with the Panthers and daughter Ava (11) has gained a league scholarship to Marsden State High, south of Brisbane. Frankie (5) and Remi (3) might be future prospects.
“I’ll be in that space where I can help, coach my kids or be a part of a team that needs my knowledge,” says Luke, who is happily settled in Brisbane, where his wife’s family are based.
Luke will always be a special story, from an unlikely background to the top of his sport.
“When I was growing up I had a lot of mates who were so talented but they were ‘them’, smoking in the in-goal, then get on the field and be man of the match,” says Luke. “What brought me to where I am is that I didn’t want to be like them…I pushed myself in different areas.
“My Dad always told me when I was little it’s either you or them…that still rings in my ears. Sometimes I would get run over but I would get back up and go looking for you.”
Rabbitohs (2007-2015) – 188 NRL gamesWarriors (2016-2019) – 83 NRL gamesDragons (2020) – 3 NRL gamesBroncos (2020) – 12 NRL games
NRL record: 286 games, 50 tries, 205 goals.
Kiwis debut: v Australia, 2008.Kiwis record: 43 tests, 5 tries, 22 goals
“I’m happy to be a part of this Kiwis family forever”Issac Luke
“I’m happy to be a part of this Kiwis family forever”
Adapted from Michael Burgess’ NZ Herald feature piece
06 September 2021
From an age when sporting tours were more akin to odysseys, the Kiwis’ 1971 trek to Britain and France was and always will be among the most remarkable in New Zealand sporting history.
Across 86 days the New Zealanders crammed in 26 matches – six of them Tests – and achieved the singular feat of winning the series against Great Britain 2-0 and backed it up with a 2-0 result in France.
In doing so the Lory Blanchard-coached, Roy Christian-led Kiwis completed an unprecedented sweep which had started with a stunning four-tries-to-one 24-3 upset of the world champion Kangaroos at Carlaw Park in late June.
While the All Golds had beaten the Northern Union 2-1 on their trailblazing 1906-08 tour, the 1971 Kiwis were the first official New Zealand team to win a series in the United Kingdom.
It all comes back into focus now in recalling this tour of all tours kicking off 50 years to the day – September 4, 1971 – in the Lancashire town of Rochdale at the foothills of the South Pennines.
The very mention of the tour is at once evocative, memories flooding back of all manner of deeds and details.
Among them is the vivid recollection as a 16-year-old schoolboy waking up in the early hours to listen to the excitable Murray King’s commentary on a trusty transistor under the pillow (no live television then, of course). And quite some time later there were BBC television replays aided – and perhaps abetted – by unique commentator Eddie Waring’s Yorkshire brogue.
However, marking the 50th anniversary of this story of such spectacular triumph against all odds is also clouded in so much sadness, for now but 13 of the 26 players who toured are still alive; only recently two more of this special crew passed away, standoff-halfback Gary Woollard last month and fellow halfback Shane Dowsett in June.
The first to pass away was goal-kicking front rower Henry Tatana (1998) followed by hooker Bill Burgoyne (1999), prop Doug Gailey (2007), winger Bob McGuinn (2012), loose forward Tony Kriletich (2016), winger Phil Orchard (2018), centre John O’Sullivan (2018), second rower Bill Deacon (2019), fullback Mike McClennan (2019), prop Robert Orchard (2020) and fullback John Whittaker (2020). Blanchard passed away in 2013.
If the win over Australia offered hope heading into the tour it was seemingly eroded by the Kiwis’ form in the opening matches.
In an era when the four-tackle rule was in force – and hometown referees were the norm – the Kiwis beat the Rochdale Hornets 23-8 to open their account but faced a frantic schedule with six matches in the space of 14 days leading into the first Test at The Willows in Salford; their only other win was over Widnes while losses to St Helens, Hull Kingston Rovers, Castleford and Warrington suggested the first Test would be beyond them.
And when coach Blanchard revealed his side for the opening Test there was more than a degree of incredulity with his choice of John Whittaker at fullback. He hadn’t played there in the lead-up matches but Blanchard had three exceptional wingers in Phil Orchard, Mocky Brereton and Whittaker and felt they all needed to play. What a masterstroke it would prove to be turning Whittaker into a fullback.
Another standout feature of the first Test side was the inclusion of the gifted Dennis Williams at standoff. Turning 18 just the day before his international debut, he was outstanding leaving his mark with a sizzling stepping run on his way to a brilliant first half try.
Despite that, the Kiwis were 12-13 down at halftime but had a 15-13 lead through the powerful Phil Orchard early in the second half. Nervously they clung to the advantage until another Orchard try – this time the equally potent Robert – powered over close to the posts. Tatana failed to convert from the handy angle but the Kiwis negotiated the final hectic minutes to secure a stunning 18-13 win.
WATCH FIRST TEST v GREAT BRITAIN
In their next four matches they beat Barrow, Whitehaven and Wigan while dropping a midweek clash against Swinton.
Great Britain made numerous changes for the second Test at Wheldon Road in Castleford – including recalling feisty halfback Alex Murphy – in a desperate effort to level the series. Also selected was former Welsh rugby union star David Watkins making his Great Britain Test debut.
The changes were working well when the home side led 8-0 and then ominously extended to 11-0 after Roger Millward ducked under high tackles and scooted to score wide out.
The Kiwis struck back with a sensational near length-of-the-field try sparked by a wonderful Dennis Williams break; he linked with speedster Phil Orchard on halfway, the winger burning off the cover for his first try of the contest. A Tatana penalty soon after left the Kiwis 5-11 behind at halftime.
Soon after the break they were in again, Phil Orchard stretching the defence with an electric carry. On the next tackle halfback Ken Stirling was at dummy half for a rehearsed play working a slick scissors move which had all the forwards in motion. Second rower John Greengrass crossed to the right, prop Doug Gailey headed wide to the left and the others moved up the middle, Stirling picking up a steaming Tatana who charged over to score.
At 10-11 the Kiwis were right back in it and soon after came one of two heroic defensive plays which would prove critical to the result.
WATCH SECOND TEST v GREAT BRITAIN
This one unfolded as winger Joe Walsh cut through and was in the process of putting the ball down only for a desperate Stirling to jolt the ball loose in a last-ditch try-saving tackle.
Not long after a shocking late and high shot from Murphy flattened the courageous Stirling, an act which was ignored by match officials but ended the Kiwi halfback’s involvement in the match.
A Tatana penalty edged the Kiwis ahead 12-11, Watkins missed a long-range penalty but then winger Clive Sullivan had Great Britain ahead 14-12.
There it stayed until the Kiwis attacked from depth again, shifting the ball across field to the right where centre Roy Christian released the destructive Orchard some 60 metres from the line. Orchard’s combination of speed, strength and balance was breathtaking as he diced with the touchline, stumbled after bumping off fullback Derek Edwards but then scrambled over for a try of exceptional quality and one of major moment.
Tatana converted splendidly from wide out to put the Kiwis 17-14 ahead facing a frenetic final stanza if they were to take out the match and clinch the series.
And now came the most astonishing and vital defensive act of the game. Great Britain attacked relentlessly, the Kiwis repelled them but then Mike Stephenson created space on the left edge for replacement winger Billy Benyon. He was airborne and set to score when out of nowhere loose forward Tony Kriletich launched to knock the ball out of Benyon’s grasp. Not just a match winner but a series clincher. History.
After such a climax the Kiwis lapsed with three straight losses, won three and then lost again in a scarcely believable schedule of seven matches in 14 days ahead of the third Test.
The New Zealanders couldn’t complete a clean sweep going down 3-12 to the Brits in Leeds before blitzing France 27-11 and 24-2 in the first two Tests (Orchard with five tries in total) and winding up the tour with a 3-3 draw in the third Test.
Among a long list of outstanding performers Phil Orchard was an absolute standout. He missed just seven matches on tour, scoring 27 tries in his 19 appearances including eight in five Tests.
Holding it all together was a wonderful leader in Roy Christian, a man held in such high esteem. History sadly shows no New Zealand rugby league player has ever been knighted; Christian would be highly deserving and, had he played another code, he surely would have been recognised years ago.
Barring continued Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Christian and a group of the surviving members of the famed 1971 Kiwis will be saluted at the ex-Kiwis’ annual reunion traditionally held in October.
Theirs will always be a story and time in New Zealand sporting history to cherish.
1971 KIWIS TO BRITAIN AND FRANCE | SQUAD
Fullbacks | John Whittaker (Wellington), Mike McClennan (Auckland)
Wingers | Phil Orchard (Bay of Plenty), Mocky Brereton (Canterbury), Bob McGuinn (Auckland)
Centres | Roy Christian (Auckland) captain, Bernie Lowther (Auckland), John O’Sullivan (Auckland), Dave Sorensen (Auckland)
Halves | Dennis Williams (Auckland), Gary Woollard (Auckland), Ken Stirling (Auckland), Graeme Cooksley (Canterbury), Shane Dowsett (Auckland)
Hookers | Jim Fisher (Canterbury), Bill Burgoyne (Auckland)
Props | Henry Tatana (Auckland), Doug Gailey (Auckland), Robert Orchard (Auckland), Don Mann (Auckland)
Second rowers | John Greengrass (Canterbury), Gary Smith (Wellington), Bill Deacon (Waikato), Ray Williams (Auckland)
Loose forwards | Tony Kriletich (Auckland), Murray Eade (Auckland)
1971 KIWIS TO BRITAIN AND FRANCE | RESULTS
September 4 v Rochdale Hornets, Athletic Grounds, Rochdale WON 23-8
September 6 v St Helens, Knowsley Road, St Helens LOST 8-18
September 8 v Hull Kingston Rovers, Craven Park, Hull LOST 10-12
September 12 v Widnes, Naughton Park, Widnes WON 18-15
September 15 v Castleford, Wheldon Road, Castleford LOST 8-25
September 18 v Warrington, Wilderspool, Warrington LOST 2-13
September 25 v Great Britain, The Willows, Salford WON 18-13
September 30 v Barrow, Craven Park, Barrow-in-Furness WON 25-15
October 2 v Whitehaven, Recreation Ground, Whitehaven WON 21-8
October 8 v Swinton, Station Road, Manchester LOST 15-26
October 10 v Wigan, Central Park, Wigan WON 24-10
October 16 v Great Britain, Wheldon Road, Castleford WON 17-14
October 17 v Huddersfield, Fartown, Huddersfield LOST 10-11
October 20 v Leigh, Hilton Park, Leigh LOST 5-10
October 22 v Salford, The Willows, Salford LOST 30-31
October 24 v Wakefield Trinity, Belle Vue, Wakefield WON 23-12
October 27 v Oldham, The Watersheddings, Oldham WON 24-13
October 30 v Bradford Northern, Odsal, Bradford WON 30-23
October 31 v York, Clarence Street, York LOST 5-11
November 6 v Great Britain, Headingley, Leeds LOST 3-12
November 11 v France, Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan WON 27-11
November 14 v Littoral Province, Stade St Ruf, Avignon WON 14-9
November 18 v Combined XIII, Stade Municipal d’Albi, Albi WON 20-9
November 21 v France, Stade Albert Domec, Carcassonne WON 24-2
November 24 v Combined XIII, Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux WON 20-9
November 28 v France, Stade Municipal, Toulouse DREW 3-3
1971 KIWIS TO BRITAIN AND FRANCE | RIP
Henry Tatana (#455) aged 53 in 1998
Bill Burgoyne (#487) aged 52 in 1999
Doug Gailey (#476) aged 59 in 2007
Bob McGuinn (#481) aged 64 in 2012
Tony Kriletich (#459) aged 72 in 2016
Phil Orchard (#475) aged 70 in 2018
John O’Sullivan (#493) aged 68 in 2018
Bill Deacon (#445) aged 75 in 2019
Mike McClennan (#488) aged 75 in 2019
Robert Orchard (#443) aged 74 IN 2020
John Whittaker (#485) aged 70 in 2020
Shane Dowsett (#495) aged 74 in 2021
Gary Woollard (#420) aged 79 in 2021
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.
7 June 2021
The 35-year-old Blair, from Whangarei, has been made an MNZM for his services to rugby league.
Blair is only the second person in the history of rugby league to play 50 Tests for New Zealand behind Ruben Wiki (55) and is the New Zealander with the second most NRL appearances in the Australian Premiership (331) cementing himself as one of New Zealand Rugby League’s greats.
Adam Blair took the field at Eden Park against the Great Britain Lions in 2019 in what was his 50th Test cap for New Zealand, marking an exceptional international rugby league career spanning 14 seasons. He is just the ninth player in history, and second New Zealander to achieve such a milestone.
Blair has a long and decorated career in the Black and White jersey beginning in 2006 when he made his debut after only 16 NRL appearances. Injury struck him out of the Kiwis’ 2007 campaign but he went on to feature in all seven of the Kiwis’ 2008 Tests; including the most iconic Test match of all, the 2008 World Cup final where Blair’s pick-up of a loose ball to score sealed New Zealand’s first ever World Cup victory with a 34-20 triumph over Australia.
He went on to play all five of the Kiwis’ Tests in 2009 – winning the NZRL International Player of the Year and was a regular at prop, lock or second-row for his country until the end of 2012, including another Suncorp Stadium upset of the Kangaroos in the 2010 Four Nations Final.
2014 Blair received a well-deserved recall for the Kiwis and was a front-row starter in all four Four Nations matches including dual wins over the Kangaroos.
2015 saw Blair named co-captain of the Kiwis squad that toured England and was ever present in all six of New Zealand’s 2016 Tests and the 2017 Anzac Test. Blair then received an honourable accolade as he was announced Captain of the Kiwis’ 2017 World Cup squad.
2018 saw him capped in New Zealand’s record-equalling fifth victory over Australia and two matches against England.
After skippering the Māori All-Stars in a historic pre-season encounter with the Indigenous All Stars, Blair made his 300th NRL appearance in 2019 – only the third Kiwi to do so following greats, Ruben Wiki and Simon Mannering.
2019 saw the 33 year old receive a late call up for the Kiwis campaign where he started at lock against Australia before being honoured with his 50th Test cap in front of friends and family at home at Eden Park. He went on to play his last Test for the Kiwis the following week in Christchurch as the Kiwis achieved a series win against the touring Great Britain squad.
Against the backdrop of his international accolades, 2020 saw Blair co-captain the Māori All-Stars in their 30-16 win over the Indigenous All Stars to then go on and play every single game for the Warriors 2020 season before calling time on his long-standing but legendary career.
For all that, when he was told about his appointment, he admits he initially thought he’d done something wrong. “I got a phone call from someone from the Governor-General’s office and I thought I was in a bit of trouble!” Blair told Stuff.
“I was wondering what I’d done wrong, so I needed to apologise to the lady on the phone who spoke to me, because I was a bit funny on the phone and I had to say sorry for the way I acted.
“But I’m very grateful and humbled to be nominated firstly and then to be on the list.”
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “Adam Blair has cemented himself as a rugby league great, a Kiwi legend and a Māori leader.
“We are extremely grateful to have had someone of his calibre rep the Black and White jersey, and we thank Adam for not only leading on the field but also in the community and being a great advocate for the game,” he adds.
“This accolade is well deserved, he’s a Kiwi great who has been an integral part of key New Zealand Rugby League history. His impact both on and off the field will be felt for decades to come. Congratulations Adam.”
Warriors CEO Cameron George says that even during his playing days, Blair’s dedication to give back to local communities went unmatched.
“When we needed something in the community, regardless of his pay-packet or standing in the game, Adam was always the first one to put up his hand,” he said.
“He just loves giving back to people, and he’s been able to do that through rugby league, because he has a wonderful story behind him.”
“His passion and commitment are outstanding, and we’re really privileged to have him as part of our club and the game should be privileged to have people like Adam in it.”
Blair has moved on to the next chapter in his life which he’s pursuing with the same enthusiasm he’s always had.
“I’m doing the TV stuff and I fell into that,” Blair said.
“I’m lucky after everything I’ve done to be able to talk about rugby league, which is everything I know.
“I help with the development pathways at the Warriors, with Stacey Jones and Tony Iro.
“At the moment there aren’t any pathways set up, because of Covid and there not being any games.“ But I can teach them the basics of our game and give them my knowledge and experience to help, so they’re prepared to take the next step.
“I’m also trying to sneak off on my own and set up the ultimate goal for me, which is to have an academy. Where people come to me and I show them the way, with my knowledge and train them.
“But then if those pathways aren’t open for them, then there are other opportunities out there.
“So have businessmen and trades all connected into the one academy where I can show them pathways, rather than them getting to the point where they realise they’re not going to make it in rugby league, then not knowing what they should do next, and we are losing a lot of kids.
“So that’s my ultimate goal, to give back to the community, help our next generation be better equipped for not just rugby league, but for life in general.”
22 February 2021
The most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years have been crowned and four rugby league greats have been honoured in one of the most prestigious sporting lists.
Dubbed The Little General during his standout career with the Warriors and the Kiwis, Jones was, according to broadcaster Dale Husband, “so popular he could have been Prime Minister”. Played 48 tests and 238 NRL games for the Warriors before turning to coaching. Ex-Warriors and Kiwis teammate Wairangi Koopu said Jones transformed both teams. “The small rarea bird flies up high in the kahikatea tree. That’s how you’d sum up Stacey Jones.”
The star of the Kiwis’ only Rugby League World Cup winning team in 2008, Benji Marshall is about to enter his 19th NRL season, having played over 300 first grade games. Won a NRL title with Wests Tigers in 2005 when he produced an amazing flick pass in the grand final. Golden Boot winner in 2010 as international player of the year. “He could have played State of Origin, he definitely could have played for Australia, but he chose the black jersey over a Kangaroos jumper,” said ex-Kiwi Tony Kemp. “To me, that says everything. The guy’s an absolute legend.”
One of the most respected players in NZ Rugby League history and across the entire NRL scene, Wiki starred during 12 seasons with the Canberra Raiders, winning the 1994 premiership as a centre. Ended his 311-game career with three seasons as a Warriors prop. The most capped Kiwi with 55 tests and a NRL Hall of Famer. Former Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan said of Wiki: “He’s got conviction, he’s got resilience, he’s got power. He never knew the meaning of the word, ‘giving up’.’’
Her 32 Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey includes four World Cups spanning 18 seasons. Putararu-born Hireme-Smiler was named World Cup MVP in 2013 and also appeared for the Black Ferns a year later at the 2014 Rugby World Cup, as well as starring in the Black Ferns sevens team. Former Warriors and Kiwis forward Wairangi Koopu claims Hireme’s ease at switching between the two codes earned her the nickname of “Honey Bill Williams”. She was named in NRL.com’s Women’s Rugby League Team of the Decade (2010s) and appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the game, cementing her standing as one of women’s rugby league’s all-time greats.
1. Lisa Carrington – Te Aitanga-A-Māhaki/Ngāti Porou (Canoeing)2. Michael Campbell – Ngāti Ruanui/Ngāi Rauru (Golf)3. Wynton Rufer – Ngāti Porou (Football)4. Jason Wynyard – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Wood Chopping)5. Pero Cameron – Ngāpuhi (Basketball)6. Zinzan Brooke – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)7. Stacey Jones – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)8. Farah Palmer – Tainui/Ngāti Maniapoto (Rugby)9. Benji Marshall – Ngāi Tuhoe (Rugby League)10. Dame Noeline Taurua – Ngāpuhi (Netball)11. Aaron Smith – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)12. Portia Woodman – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)13. Ruben Wiki – Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)14. Trent Boult – Ngāi Tahu/Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Te Rangi (Cricket)15. Eric Rush – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)16. Winston Reid – Tainui/Te Arawa (Football)17. Peter Martin – Te Arawa (Paralympics Athletics)18. Leilani Joyce – Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Te Rangi/Tainui (Squash)19. Suzie Bates – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket/Basketball)20. Honey Hireme-Smiler – Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāi Haua/Waikato-Tainui (Rugby League/Rugby)21. Nathan Nukunuku – Ngāti Porou (Softball)22. Temepara Bailey – Ngāpuhi (Netball)23. Shane Bond – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket)24. Sarah Hirini – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)25. Joelle King – Ngāti Porou (Squash)26. Raelene Castle – Ngāpuhi (Sports Administrator)27. Kayla Whitelock – Rangitāne (Hockey)28. Cathy Millen – Ngāi Tuhoe (Power Lifting)29. Cameron Leslie – Ngāpuhi (Paralympics Swimming/Wheelchair Rugby)30. Shannon McIlroy – Ngāti Porou (Lawn Bowls)
December 16, 2020
James Fisher-Harris and Krystal Rota have been named the 2020 New Zealand Rugby League Players of the Year for the first time in their careers, while Dylan Brown earned Young Kiwi Player of the Year for the second year running and Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally took home Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year.
In a season that saw no Kiwi Internationals due to the ongoing implications of Covid-19, the 2020 Kiwis High-Performance Awards were judged solely on NRL performance. The Kiwi Ferns Awards have been credited on international merit due to their clash against Fetu Samoa Invitational which was the only New Zealand Rugby League International for the year.
2020 Kiwis Player of the year, James Fisher-Harris (Kiwi #801), was named 2020 Dally M Prop of the year and earned recognition as one of the NRL’s best and most hardworking forwards. Passing the 100-game milestone for the Panthers, he led the competition in post-contact metres, was the top forward in terms of total run metres and played an integral role in the Panthers’ drive to their first grand final in 17 years.
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “James has performed consistently right throughout the year at such a high standard and to make it to the grand final is a real credit to him.”
“It’s been a pleasure to watch him develop into the player he is, one of his biggest strengths is consistency, you know what he’s going to deliver for his team and he’s a step above where he’s ever been and how he performs. He’s a quiet achiever but he’s all about action. James is a clear asset to any team he’s a part of and is well-deserving of this accolade.”
Captaining her country for the first time, the 10 Test veteran Krystal Rota and 2020 Kiwi Fern player of the year, led the Kiwi Ferns to their 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa Invitational in November. No stranger to the captaincy role, 2020 also saw her captain the Māori All-Stars as well as the Counties Manukau Stingrays, leading them to their 11th straight women’s title in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership.
Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “This was Krystal’s most influential year. I knew she had leadership capabilities from watching her in the Māori All-Stars and throughout her Counties campaigns but these qualities were definitely on display in Kiwi Ferns camp.”
“Captaining your country is whole other ball game, it’s the highest level of leadership and responsibility a player can have and she rose to the challenge. A worthy recipient and these qualities will only continue to grow.”
For the second year running, Kiwis Junior Player of the Year, Dylan Brown cemented his place in the NRL as one of its elite playmakers. Brown made 16 regular-season appearances for Paramatta, with nine line-breaks, 52 tackle-busts, 11 forced dropouts and five tries. At just 20 years of age, he was instrumental in the Eels’ run to the playoffs drawing praise from the highest levels of the game for his defence and multi-faceted attack.
Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “A real quality Dylan has shown is his ability to improve every time he steps out on the field.”
“He’s grown as a player and he had a taste of the Kiwis at the Nines last year but I know a real driver for him is to earn a Kiwis Test jersey and he’s definitely heading in the right direction. Watching him push his team around the park, putting his body on the line, growing his leadership capabilities but at the same time building his own game has been pleasing to watch. He’s maturing as a player and showing his true character both on and off the field.”
2020 Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year, Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally, enjoyed a meteoric rise after switching to rugby league in 2020.
Named MVP of the inaugural NZRL National Women’s Championship after her stand-out performance at full-back for the Upper Central Stallions, she then made her international debut at five-eighth for the Kiwi Ferns against Fetu Samoa Invitational.
The 24-year-old’s skills were on display at Mt Smart Stadium, as she played a key hand in two tries before scoring two more of her own, including a blistering 50-metre effort.
Coach Ricky Henry said, “Autumn-Rain scored three tries in the first ever game I watched her play, she’s an outstanding talent that seems to have found her home with rugby league.”
“She’s willing to learn and grow, initially playing out of position but rising to the challenge. She wreaked havoc on the field, she’s explosive, fast and these skills will only mature. She’s definitely one for the future.”
2020 High-Performance Winners:
Kiwis Player of the Year – James Fisher Harris
Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Krystal Rota
Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally
Kiwis Young Player of the Year – Dylan Brown
2020 NZRL Community Award Winners
Grassroots Club of the Year – Mangere East
Domestic Men’s Player of the Year – Francis Leger
Domestic Women’s Player of the Year – Harata Butler
Domestic Coach of the Year – Phil Gordon
U16s Player of the Year – Tre Fotu
U18s Player of the Year – Sam McIntyre
Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson
Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Shayne Wassel
The New Zealand Rugby League community is mourning the loss of Kiwi #568 Gerard Stokes, a Canterbury stalwart on and off the field, and one of New Zealand’s most prominent coaches of the past 30 years. He died aged 65 after battling brain cancer.
Stokes leaves behind an enormous rugby league legacy that included playing and coaching stints on the New Zealand and British club scenes, and with numerous representative teams on our shores.
The son of Jim Stokes, a West Coast and Canterbury forward, Marist-Western Suburbs product Gerard showed early promise as a tough front-rower. He represented New Zealand at schoolboy and age-group level and played for Canterbury B at just 17.
Stokes broke into the senior Canterbury team in 1980. By now with Eastern Suburbs, he used a strong showing for South Island as a springboard to selection in the 1982 Kiwis squad to tour Australia and Papua New Guinea, featuring in four matches.
Stokes spent the 1982-83 northern winter with Workington Town, but not before the start a story that has since passed into rugby league folklore and illustrates his rare toughness unfolded. Stokes dislocated then broke his finger after it became caught in Wellington enforcer and Kiwis teammate Kevin Tamati’s shorts during a rep match. Leaving for England soon afterwards, Stokes played with painkilling injections and the injured finger strapped up all season, then had the digit amputated upon his return to New Zealand at the same time as having minor knee surgery.
The veteran forward returned to Marist-Western Suburbs in 1986. He then turned his hand to coaching, leading the Saints to a grand final – a loss to Halswell – as player-coach in 1988.
A stint in charge of the Hornets garnered grand final success in 1993, before Stokes took the reins of the Canterbury Country Cardinals in the Lion Red Cup. He led the Cardinals to the playoffs in the competition’s inaugural 1994 season.
Stokes became Canterbury coach in 1997, the beginning of a five-season tenure that reached a crescendo in 2000 as the Bulls took out the inaugural Bartercard Cup title. Other representative appointments during the late-1990s included the New Zealand Nines and New Zealand Residents teams.
He was a Kiwis selector and assistant coach under Gary Freeman and New Zealand A coach in the early-2000s, while he coached Wellington in the 2002 and ’03 Bartercard Cups before returning to Workington Town as head coach – the start of a seven-year stretch as a coach in the Old Dart that ultimately led to Christchurch-born son Ben becoming a superstar all-rounder with the England cricket team.
Stokes left Workington Town for neighbouring archrivals Whitehaven in 2008, coaching the club for three seasons – a period that also saw him coach Serbia’s national team.
Ged and Deb Stokes moved home to Christchurch in 2013. Ged, a carpenter by trade, worked with young offenders at Paparua Prison up until last year.
New Zealand Rugby League offers its sincere condolences to Gerard’s wife Deb, sons James and Ben, his extended family, his many friends, and the ex-teammates and players he coached who were touched by the contribution of one of our game’s great servants.
While the NRL playoffs have no room for NZ Warriors this season, plenty of Kiwis remain in contention for the championship title on October 25.
More than 30 players of NZ heritage are scattered throughout the eight teams still standing.
Here are some to watch out for over the next four weeks:
The Northland-born prop has notched up 100 appearances for the Panthers and become a key contributor to a pack that has dominated the 2020 competition.
He finished among league leaders in post-contact metres (1347) and decoy runs (150), while finishing fourth in run metres (3659) and second in runs (394), just behind Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Fisher-Harris was the only forward in the top eight for that last category – the rest were fullbacks and wings.
With only half a dozen international caps to his name, the 24-year-old looms as a must-have selection for Michael Maguire’s Kiwis World Cup roster next year.
Another hailing from the Far North, Harawira-Naera was headed for the NRL wilderness, after he and then-Bulldogs teammate Jayden Okunbor lured schoolgirls to their Port Macquarie hotel room during the pre-season.
He found a new lease of life when he left the club mid-season and headed for the Aussie capital, hooking up with the Raiders.
The 25-year-old second rower has proved a valuable asset off the bench for last year’s beaten finalists and a ready-made successor to English star John Bateman, who has already signalled he’s not coming back next season.
The rise of Wellington-native Hughes has gone under the radar this year, due to all the drama in the NRL, but the 24-year-old has established himself as a premier halfback in the competition.
After playing most of his career at fullback, Hughes switched to halfback to cater for the emerging Ryan Papenhuyzen late last year and hasn’t looked back.
A recent NRL.com fan survey had Hughes as the equal second-best halfback this year, behind Nathn Cleary, while he beat the Panthers playmaker in the most improved category.
In just 16 games, he finished with 13 try assists, which was more than any Warriors player.
Hughes played three tests last year, although all his appearances were off the bench as a utility.
If the Eels are to make a run in the playoffs, young Northlander Brown will be at the forefront of their attack.
Brown seemed unlikely to play any further role in Parramatta’s 2020 campaign, when he suffered a syndesmosis injury against South Sydney in September, but he’s recovered in time for the post-season.
The 19-year-old has stepped out of his shell this year and become the perfect sidekick for Mitchell Moses in the halves.
Brown hasn’t represented NZ at international level, but with some top halves ending their careers, Maguire will pay close attention to the man who could lead the Kiwis for the next 15 years.
The North Shore-born wing has made the most of his opportunity, with injuries to the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ outside backs paving the way for Paulo’s NRL debut this season.
He has played 10 games to date and scored two tries, although one of them was controversial, as his foot touched the sideline before grounding the ball.
On the field, he’s averaged more than 100 metres and 1.5 tackle breaks per game.
Original Source – Newshub by Grant Chapman and Ben Francis
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.
The Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have today revealed the much-anticipated fixture schedule for what promises to be the biggest and best World Cup in the history of the sport, as the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams all compete at the same time in a major sporting first.
New Zealand’s men’s and women’s side will be competing in RLWC2021.
The full fixture list for New Zealand is as follows:
In June, it was revealed that New Zealand’s men’s and women’s sides will be using York as their team training base.
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for millions of fans around the world as we reveal the full fixture schedule.
“The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and global fans can now look forward to being part of this unique sporting event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify.
“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments.
“We can’t wait to welcome all our competing nations and their fans to England next autumn for the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.”
With 61 fixtures over a six-week period the tournament will showcase a festival of world class sporting action. The dates, venues and kick-off times for each of the three tournaments is now confirmed and available to view below and at www.RLWC2021.com
Please visit www.RLWC2021.com for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.
Ever wondered how the Te Iwi Kiwi haka came about? Cultural Advisor Ora Kihi talks us through the meaning of the haka and why it has a special place in the hearts of all our Kiwis players, and their biggest supporters.
TE IWI KIWI HAKA WORDS
TUKUA TE KAWAU MARO
BATTLE FORMATION, PREPARE OF WAR,
NGA KIWI O TE AO
A call to all Kiwis of the world
Unleash the spirit within.
Prepare the post for our house.
The Maori Pou, indigenous people
Let the earth shake and ground rumble.
The Pou that links all cultures.
The God of War
TE OPE TAUA
Who is this war party
KO TE KAPA KIWI E
It is the Kiwi war party
TAU MAI TAKU MANA
I draw my power.
From the beginning of time
TAU MAI KO TE IHI
I draw my strength.
NO OKU TUPUNA
From my ancestors.
HIINEI TAKU WHARE
Here stands my House.
For I will defend it
The breath of LIFE.
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.
A dominant New Zealand performance in the second and final Test against Great Britain on Saturday night saw the Kiwis win 23-8 and secure their first series victory over the Lions in 21 years.
After emerging 12-8 winners in a dour affair a week earlier in Auckland, the Kiwis found their attacking mojo in Christchurch with returning playmaker Shaun Johnson a leading contributor, terrorising Great Britain’s makeshift left edge which included regular five-eighth Blake Austin playing on the wing.
Having run out of specialist outside back, coach Wayne Bennett named Austin on the wing following the late withdrawal of Zak Hardaker with a shoulder injury on Friday.
Another standout for the home side was Jamayne Isaako who scored 11 points via four penalties, a conversion and a late field goal.
The Brisbane winger was playing his first Test in his hometown of Christchurch with his terminally ill father Taai watching on from the crowd.
The Kiwis led 16-2 at half-time thanks to tries from Joseph Manu and Shaun Johnson, along with eight points off the boot of Isaako.
Earlier New Zealand got the scoring started thanks to a penalty in front of the posts, which came after Austin dropped a Johnson bomb and gifted them back-to-back sets with the ball.
But three minutes later Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was ruled to have taken too long to leave a tackle and Gareth Widdop locked things up with a penalty of his own.
Despite bringing in another towering bomb sent his way, Austin was promptly bundled into touch and on the next set centre Joseph Manu made the Lions pay, bouncing out of a three-man tackle to slam the ball down.
Isaako then landed two penalty goals in the space of four minutes to stretch the Kiwis’ lead to 10-2 on the half hour.
Cleary out to prove a point after being dropped from the national team for the first time in his career last week, Johnson earned a repeat set with a pinpoint long kick into the in-goal area and then produced a brilliant individual run to score New Zealand’s second.
After standing up Elliott Whitehead with some dazzling footwork the Sharks playmaker weaved his way over, with Isaako converting for a 16-2 lead at the break.
More points following in the second spell for the Kiwis, and after getting his side into attacking position with a powerful run where he broke five tackles, Ken Maumalo scored his fifth Test try with an athletic finish in the corner.
Trailing 20-2 with half an hour to play Great Britain needed something to spark them to life, and got it in the way of a late Josh Jones offload which resulted in a try to Josh Hodgson.
Widdop converted to reduce the deficit to 12, but hopes of building momentum were thwarted when Alex Walmsley dropped the ball 10 metres off the Lions’ line on the very next set.
Great Britain were twice denied tries by video referee Henry Perenara inside the final 20 minutes.
First John Bateman was found to have missed the ball on a desperate effort to ground it before the dead ball line, before Jake Connor was ruled to have knocked on in the lead up to a would-be try nine minutes from time.
With any hope of a comeback now lost, Great Britain were dealt one final blow when Isaako slotted a field goal and another penalty to stretch the final deficit.
The Lions have little time to lick their wounds, with a clash against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby awaiting them next Saturday.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Australia will meet Fiji, Italy and Scotland in Group B, while New Zealand were drawn against Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon in Group C and Tonga play Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D.
In the women’s tournament, New Zealand were drawn in the same pool as Australia in a massive boost for the likes of England and PNG.
However, most interest in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace centred on which team Prince Harry picked as England’s opponents in the opening match on October 23, 2021. The match will be played at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Tournament organisers couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome as Samoa have the potential to be a massive drawcard if Williams chooses to play for them.
The host nation narrowly lost the 2017 final 6-0 to Australia and would be expected to top their pool but Great Britain’s disastrous Southern Hemisphere tour at the end of last season and the retirement of Sam Burgess have raised concerns.
Samoa are the obvious threat but their only win since 2016 was a 24-6 defeat of PNG in last year’s Pacific Test.
It would take a stunning upset for the Kangaroos to fail to top their pool but Tonga showed what is possible by beating Australia last November in Auckland and Fiji aren’t too far behind.
The Bati have qualified for the semi-finals of the last three World Cups and will be battle-hardened by Tests against New Zealand and Tonga this year.
Scotland drew with New Zealand in 2016 and Samoa at the 2017 World Cup but its hard to see them or Italy making it out of their pool.
This is probably the most wide-open pool, with the exception of the current No.1 ranked Kiwis.
Jamaica qualified for their first World Cup by beating the USA more than a year ago, while Lebanon are likely to field a young team after the retirements of Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah from the team that made the quarter-finals in 2017.
Ireland were unlucky not to have advanced to the 2017 quarter-finals in place of Samoa and would have under the format for the 2021 tournament.
However, the results in Group C are likely to come down to which of Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon has the best heritage players to help claim second spot.
After beating Great Britain and Australia at the end of last season, as well as New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup, Tonga are aiming to win the 2021 tournament and few doubt they are capable.
Besides Tonga, Group D is also wide open as PNG beat Great Britain at the end of last season and Cook Islands have the potential to field a strong line-up if all of their heritage players make themselves available.
Wales have been disappointing in recent seasons but the tournament being in the UK will be of benefit to the Dragons.
The Orchids, Ravens and Brasileiras would have been doing handstands after being drawn in Group A with England.
Brazil will meet the host nation in the opening game of the women’s World Cup at Emerald Headingley Stadium on November 9, 2021.
Most interest in the women’s draw was always going to revolve around which side of the draw the Kiwi Ferns were in and France and the Cook Islands now face a tough World Cup campaign.
The Jillaroos are the defending World Cup champions and also won the 2013 final but New Zealand had won every tournament before that.
Defending World Cup winners France will meet Wales, Scotland and USA in pool B.
The 2021 World Cup is the first in which the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have been staged concurrently, with all three finals to be played on the same weekend.
Brad Walter – NRL
On this day in 2005
Australia lose an international series for the first time in 27 years when they are trounced 24-0 by New Zealand in the final of the Tri-Nations tournament in Leeds. The victory is the Kiwis’ first series win over Australia since 1953.
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #324 William Bevin Keith Hough.
Hough passed away on Monday 25 November 2019 in Tauranga. He will be remembered as a New Zealand sportsman who represented New Zealand in long jump at the British Empire Games and played twelve Tests for the New Zealand Kiwis from 1950 to 1953.
Representing Auckland, Hough won the 1948 New Zealand under-19 long jump title. He went on to win the national men’s long jump championship in each of the following three years. At the 1950 British Empire Games in Auckland Hough leapt 23 ft 7 3⁄8 in (7.20 m) to win the silver medal in the men’s long jump.
Hough played rugby league for the Richmond and Papakura clubs. He represented both Auckland and New Zealand, being selected for the Kiwis from 1950 to 1953 and playing in 12 test matches. During the 1951 French rugby league tour of Australia and Zealand, Hough was selected to play for both Auckland and New Zealand at winger.
The New Zealand Kiwis have moved to number one in the International Rugby League world rankings which have been announced after the conclusion of the 2019 international programme.
The Kiwis have built on their 2018 victories over Australia and England and their recent successes against Great Britain and Tonga to take the number one position.
Tonga remain in fourth spot but their historic victory over the second-placed Kangaroos has meant that they close the gap on England who now sit in third place.
New Zealand coach, Michael Maguire said “This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition.
“The International Rugby League Oceania Cup is a fantastic development for the Kiwis and the nations in this region. It provides a meaningful competition and is a real focus for our international programme.”
Papua New Guinea is one of the big movers in both the men’s and women’s rankings. The men have been recognised for their progress in the past 12 months as they move from 10th to 6th place and in the women’s section, from 6th place to 4th.
Kumuls head coach, Michael Marum sees the rise up the rankings as a natural part of their journey saying: “The PNG Kumuls going from 10th spot to 6th spot is really good for us. We can only go higher with more international fixtures.”
Orchids coach, Bagelo Solien commented:
“Going up two spots from 6th to 4th is pleasing after two test matches and we can only get better from here. It is good for the Women’s game nationally and internationally”
Commenting on the latest rankings, International Rugby League chief executive officer, Nigel Wood said:
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their number one position. It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with 4 wins from their last 5 international games.
“Tonga has possibly been the story of the recent internationals and they deserve all the plaudits that they have received. They have certainly cemented their place as a genuine top four-nation and, along with other Pacific nations, throws the competition wide open for Rugby League World Cup 2021.”
Latest Rankings November 2019
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates Kiwi #779, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, on winning the prestigious IRL Golden Boot Award for 2019.
The Otahuhu Leopards junior is now recognised as the best current player in international rugby league, beating fellow Kiwis teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tonga star (and former NZ Kiwi) Siosiua Taukeiaho.
Roger is no stranger to success, the 2017 Kiwis Player of the Year was awarded the Dally M Player of the Year and Fullback of the Year in 2018, he also received Warriors Player of the Year this season, making history as the first player to win the award across three successive years.
Roger debuted for the Kiwis back in 2013 and to date has scored an impressive 14 tries in 20 tests totalling 56 points.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving to receive such an accolade,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“Roger has always worn the Kiwis Jersey with pride and this is reflected in his on-field performances and by his impressive and evergrowing list of accolades.
“We talk about the Kiwi Way and he completely optimises this, he acts as a role model to so many Kiwi kids not only in New Zealand but abroad and his impact on our game and those who play it is monumental.
“It’s exciting we have players of this calibre wearing the Black and White jersey and inspiring the next generation of Kiwis to come. We are extremely proud of Roger and all that he’s achieved and we can’t thank him enough for his ongoing dedication and service to the Kiwis jersey,” Peters concludes.
“Receiving this Golden award is a huge honour,” says Sheck.
“Thank you to all those who voted, the players in the shortlist are all world-class and I’m very honoured to have been considered alongside them.
“Putting on the Black and White jersey and representing my country is always a privilege and winning this Golden Boot award is a huge honour. Thank you to the IRL, NZRL and of course my family as without their love and support none of this would be possible. This year’s campaign has been one to remember, and although being away from my family was difficult, this makes it all worth it, this award is for them.”
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s key milestone achievements:
Dally M Winger Of The Year – 2013
RLIF Winger Of The Year – 2013
Dally M Fullback Of The Year – 2015, 2018
RLW Player of the Year – 2015
NZRL / Kiwis Player of the Year – 2017
Dally M Player Of The Year – 2018
IRL Golden Boot Winner – 2019
NZRL is pleased to announce that Australian based apparel brand, BLK, will be its official apparel provider from 1 January 2020 through to 31 December 2023.
“We are no stranger to the quality BLK provide as we have partnered with this world-renowned clothing brand in the past,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“We are excited to be working with BLK over the next couple of years as we head into busy periods of growth for the organisation on and off the field, as well as the soon approaching 2021 World Cup.” Peters concludes.
“Three years ago BLK made a very clear brand decision to only partner with teams that create global excitement, treat all athletes equally regardless of gender and believe in the power of sport not just the business of sport,” says BLK CEO, Tyron Brant.
“It is wonderful to have the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns back in BLK; we are excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with New Zealand Rugby League and grow both brands globally.”
Shaun Johnson and Brandon Smith have been recalled by the New Zealand Kiwis for Saturday’s second Test against the Great Britain Lions at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch (8.00pm kick-off).
Johnson comes back in at standoff replacing the injured Kieran Foran while Smith, stood down last week, returns at hooker as the Kiwis seek a series-clinching win after taking out last Saturday’s first Test 12-8 at Eedn Park.
Kodi Nikorima, brought in at the 11th hour to replace Smith, moves to the interchange after his heroic performance in Auckland.
Despite arriving in camp late on Friday night and not training with the side, Nikorima was on the field for 76 minutes, making a game-high 53 tackles.
In another change, rookie international Corey Harawira-Naera is named in the second row for Kenny Bromwich, who returned to Melbourne on Sunday to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Bromwich is on an extended bench should he be able to return in time for the second Test.
Added to the bench in Harawira-Naera’s place is the experienced Kevin Proctor.
The Kiwis go into the contest hunting their first series victory against Great Britain since 1998.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v GREAT BRITAIN LIONS
8.00pm, Saturday, November 9, 2019
Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS
(Gold Coast Titans)
HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | GREAT BRITAIN LIONS SERIES
A rousing half-time speech from coach Michael Maguire seemed to do the trick as New Zealand defied the loss of Kieran Foran to hand Great Britain their second defeat in a row on their southern hemisphere tour with a 12-8 win at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.
Maguire was seen on the dressing room cameras having a highly animated discussion with his players after a try-less first half. The message obviously hit the mark with the Kiwis executing a little better in the second, even though errors did creep in at times.
Wayne Bennett’s men couldn’t come up with the plays to break the Kiwis line often enough, although a try late in the second half to move them within four points made for a nail-biting finish.
But when Lions winger Jermaine McGillvary lost control of the ball over the line, after a bone-jolting tackle by Kenny Bromwich, the fight faded in the Great Britain side.
After a 14-6 loss to Tonga a week ago, the Lions now look toward Christchurch next Saturday (November 9) for a second crack at New Zealand.
The Kiwis suffered an early blow losing five-eighth Foran in the sixth minute to a dislocated shoulder. He was third man in for a regulation tackle on Great Britain lock James Graham.
Foran came out of the tackle clutching his left shoulder and after being attended to by a trainer, he left the field in a fair degree of pain. He returned to sit on the sideline with his arm tucked up inside his warm-up jacket.
Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes came off the bench and joined Benji Marshall in the halves.
The Kiwis had already had disruption to the playing group with hooker Brandon Smith dropped from the starting line-up for failing to “meet team standards” according to former Kiwis winger and now Sky Sports television commentator Daryl Halligan.
The Kiwis drafted in former Broncos and now Warriors half Kodi Nikorima in the No.21 jersey on Saturday morning. He went straight into the No.9 role without the benefit of a captain’s run.
Despite all the upheaval, New Zealand opened the scoring with a Jamayne Isaako penalty in the seventh minute after Josh Hodgson was pinged for slowing down the ruck. Gareth Widdop replied for Great Britain and the score remained 2-2 until the half-time whistle.
A break upfield by Joey Manu, who had Marshall in support, looked like producing the first try of the game in the 39th minute. But the movement broke down inside the Lions’ 10-metre zone.
In the second half, the man most likely to do something did it when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broke through two defenders, tried to step fullback Jonny Lomax, but still managed to get the ball to Isaako who ran unchallenged to the line.
It sparked something in the Kiwis camp as it looked like they’d scored again two minutes later, when Briton Nikora chased through a Marshall kick. But replays showed he had knocked on in the lead-up.
They didn’t have to wait long though as bench forward Corey Harawira-Naera jostled with four defenders before grounding the ball under the posts. Isaako hadn’t converted his own try but didn’t miss this time and it was 12-2.
Tempers flared twice in the second half with players clashing – first when Joe Tapine was penalised for a late tackle on James Graham and then Tuivasa-Sheck was penalised for pushing John Bateman.
But still the Lions couldn’t score off the two extra sets given to them.
Interchange forward Daryl Clark did barge his way over in the 68th minute after spinning out of Manu’s tackle and with Widdop’s conversion suddenly things got more interesting at 12-8. In the end it wasn’t enough.
Long-time Kiwis servant Adam Blair got to celebrate his 50th Test in style after leading the team out onto the park and giving a spine-chilling version of the Haka.
Senior Reporter NRL.com
Adam Blair will achieve the rare honour of playing 50 Tests while Kieran Foran will make his first international appearance in more than two years when the New Zealand Kiwis meet the Great Britain Lions in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).
Veteran Northland-born and raised Blair (33) will become only the ninth player in history – and just the second New Zealander after Ruben Wiki – to reach the 50-Test milestone.
Blair seemed set to be stranded on 48 Tests after missing selection for the mid-year clash against Mate Ma’a Tonga and initially being overlooked for the end-of-season internationals against the Kangaroos and the Lions.
However, the 311-game NRL forward came into the squad as an injury replacement for the World Cup 9s in Sydney and earned a Test recall for the Oceania Cup match against the Kangaroos in Wollongong last Friday night.
Canterbury-Bankstown play maker Foran (29) returns to the Test stage for the first time since May, 2017, partnering captain Benji Marshall in the halves. Replacing Shaun Johnson, he will be making his 22nd appearance for the Kiwis since his debut 10 years ago.
In other changes to the side which lost 4-26 to Australia, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire has moved Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano into the starting front row after he made his debut from the bench last Friday night. Vodafone Warriors prop Leeson Ah Mau is switched to the bench.
Canberra back rower Joseph Tapine, who served a one-game suspension last week, is recalled to start at loose forward in his 11th Test with Blair now on the bench and Braden Hamlin-Uele, one of four debutants against Australia, moving out of the squad. Melbourne utility Jahrome Hughes and Canterbury-Bankstown back rower Corey Harawira-Naera complete the interchange.
This Saturday’s match will be the Kiwis’ first against the Great Britain Lions since a three-Test series in England in 2007.
It will be the second leg of an international triple header at Eden Park. It kicks off with a second-tier Oceania Cup match between Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati (2.20pm kick-off) with the Kiwis v Great Britain encounter followed by the Kangaroos taking on Tonga International (7.40pm kick-off). The Tongans come into the match after stunning the Lions 14-6 in Hamilton last Saturday.
BUY TRIPLE HEADER TICKETS NOW
50 TEST APPEARANCES
(in chronological order)
Jim Sullivan (Wales, England, Great Britain) 1921-1934 | 54 internationals
Mick Sullivan (England, Great Britain) 1954-1962 | 50 internationals
Ruben Wiki (New Zealand) 1994-2006 | 55 internationals
Adrian Morley (England, Great Britain) 1996-2012 | 53 internationals
Darren Lockyer (Australia) 1997-2011 | 59 internationals
Petero Civoniceva (Australia, Fiji) 2001-2014 | 51 internationals
Cameron Smith (Australia) 2006-2017 | 56 internationals
James Graham (Great Britain, England) 2006-2019 | 50 internationals
5.00pm, Saturday, November 2, 2019
Eden Park, Auckland
Damien Cook celebrated his homecoming by spearheading a new-look Kangaroos side to a 26-4 win over New Zealand in front of 18,104 fans at WIN Stadium on Friday night.
Cook, who grew up at Helensburgh and was a member of Stanwell Park Surf Lifesaving Club, broke the Kiwis’ hearts with a 70-metre intercept try midway through the second half and used his speed from dummy half to put James Tedesco over to seal the win.
It was a clinical performance by the Kangaroos to avenge last year’s Test loss to New Zealand in Auckland and put them in the box seat to secure the inaugural Oceania Cup Trophy if they can beat Tonga next Saturday at Eden Park.
In some ways the Kiwis could feel they were unlucky as two of Australia’s first three tries were scored from intercepts but they didn’t create enough opportunities to seriously trouble Australia.
With the Kiwis missing props Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and James Fisher-Harris, it was no surprise that Australia fancied their chances in the middle and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga chose two front-rowers on the bench.
Canberra prop Josh Papalii, the only survivor from Meninga’s first Test team in 2016, was a powerhouse, despite carrying a rib cartilage injury into the game.
Papalii ran 80 metres from seven carries with the ball in his first 23-minute stint before being replaced by Payne Haas.
One of five debutants in the Australian team, Haas is the youngest forward to wear the green-and-gold jersey since Brad Fittler in 1990 and he made a stunning first-up impression as he carried the ball for 102 metres from just seven runs before half-time.
By the end of his 37-minute stint, 19-year-old Haas had ran the ball for 174 metres from 13 carries – the most by any forward on either side.
David Klemmer ran the ball for 154 metres, while Papalii finished the game with 145 metres and interchange prop Paul Vaughan, another debutant, ran for 120 metres.
The Kangaroos posted first points when centre Latrell Mitchell landed an eighth minute penalty goal and they looked set to go further ahead after Papalii put Jake Trbojevic over in the 15th minute but the Manly lock knocked on.
Kangaroos second-rower Tyson Frizell then put the home side further ahead in the 27th minute when he stepped Marshall after receiving the ball on the New Zealand tryline and dived over to score.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad got the Kiwis on the scoreboard when he powered over out wide after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck chimed into the backline from a 35th minute scrum win but it was the only points New Zealand managed all night.
Their best scoring chance in the second half came in the 54th minute as the Kiwis threw the ball around near the Australian line but Cook struck a huge blow when he intercepted an Adam Blair pass and ran 70 metres to score.
Cook was at his electrifying best again five minutes later when he burst out of dummy half and exposed some tired marker defence before finding James Tedesco to score under the posts.
Trbojevic had another try disallowed late in the match and a 76th minute Daly Cherry-Evans penalty goal completed the scoring.
The New Zealand Rugby League has expressed its sadness and extended its sympathies to former Kiwi coach Brian McClennan and his family following the tragic loss of ex-New Zealand international Mike McClennan.
McClennan’s body was found near Hatfields Beach last night after he had gone missing from a rest home in Orewa last Wednesday.
“This is terribly sad for Brian and the McClennan family as well as our rugby league community,” said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.
“We are all feeling for the family at this time, especially in a week when the Kiwis are about to play the Kangaroos.
“Mike had the deepest passion for rugby league. He was a proud Kiwi international and went on to achieve so much as a coach both in New Zealand and in England.
“We pass on our deepest sympathies.”
McClennan’s only Test for the Kiwis was one of the greatest in New Zealand’s history – the stunning 24-3 win over Australia at Carlaw Park in 1971.
He then made the history-making tour to Great Britain and France later that year when the Kiwis won both Test series in England and France.
The outspoken McClennan (Kiwi #488) went on to become one of New Zealand’s most successful and innovative coaches.
He dominated the Auckland club scene in the 1980s achieving multiple Fox Memorial premiership triumphs with the Mount Albert Lions and Northcote Tigers before coaching St Helens in England from 1990-1993.
As well as being an assistant Kiwi coach during Graham Lowe’s reign in the 1980s, McClennan coached Tonga at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup when the Tongans came within one point of stunning the Kiwis.
Four debutants including starting centre Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad have today been confirmed to line up for the New Zealand Kiwis in Friday night’s Oceania Cup Test against the Kangaroos at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Nicoll-Klokstad (24) is one of four changes to the starting line-up used in the Kiwis’ 34-14 win over Mate Ma’a Tonga in June.
With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback, the Canberra custodian replaces the injured Esan Marsters while Jamayne Isaako comes in for injured captain Dallin Watene-Zeleniak on the right wing, Leeson Ah Mau starts in the front row for Jesse Bromwich, out with a foot injury, and veteran Adam Blair comes into loose forward for Isaac Liu (knee).
Nicoll-Klokstad apart, the other debutants are all on the bench – forwards Zane Tetevano, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Corey Harawira-Naera. They fill vacancies created by Ah Mau moving into the starting line-up plus Nelson Asofa-Solomona being suspended and James Fisher-Harris injured.
Benji Marshall (34), playing just his second Test since 2012, has now been recalled as captain seven years after last filling the role against the Kangaroos in Townsville. This will be his 20th match as captain, taking him clear of Gary Freeman for the record for the most Tests as Kiwi captain.
Blair also has a milestone in sight despite not being originally selected. He was called up as a replacement for the World Cup 9s last week, going on to play in the final.
His appearance on Friday night takes him to 49 Tests with the chance of becoming just the second New Zealander to play 50 Tests in Saturday week’s first Test against the touring Great Britain Lions.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS
8.10pm, Friday, October 25, 2019
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Four months after making his international comeback following a seven-year absence, halfback Benji Marshall will now captain the New Zealand Kiwis for the first time since 2012 in a record 20th Test as skipper in Friday night’s Oceania Cup match against the Kangaroos at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Head coach Michael Maguire announced the appointment in Sydney today as the Kiwis began their preparation for the encounter after Saturday night’s loss to Australia in the World Cup 9s tournament.
Marshall wasn’t used in the short-form game to prepare for the end-of-season Test campaign which continues after this week’s match with two clashes against the Great Britain Lions in Auckland on November 2 and Christchurch on November 9.
He replaces the unavailable Dallin Watene-Zelezniak who led the Kiwis in their last five Tests against Australia, England and Tonga.
Marshall’s 29th Test since his debut in 2005 will take him ahead of Gary Freeman for the most Tests as Kiwi captain. They were level on 19 after Marshall was captain in the 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville in October, 2012.
The 26-year-old Whakatane-born standoff led the Kiwis for the first time when he stood in for an injured Nathan Cayless against England in Newcastle during the triumphant 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign.
When Cayless retired from representative football in early 2009, coach Stephen Kearney gave the captaincy to the then 24-year-old Wests Tigers playmaker.
A hat-trick from the player of the tournament Mitchell Moses helped Australia overcome New Zealand 24-10 to claim the inaugural men’s World Cup 9s title.
After a weight of possession, New Zealand crossed first when Reimis Smith athletically touched down in the corner courtesy of a brilliant bat-on by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Australia briefly hit the front through a converted Moses bonus zone try but Kiwis winger Jamayne Isaako responded straight away with his seventh try of the competition and the ensuing sideline goal.
However, the brilliance of Eels halfback Moses put the Kangaroos ahead 13-10 at half-time as he burnt the defence to notch another four-pointer on his home turf.
Kyle Feldt powered over for a try in the second stanza, much to the chagrin of many fans who claimed the Cowboys winger committed a double-movement and planted the ball short.
But Moses, who finished with 20 points, ensured that debate was moot when he backed up a bulldozing David Fifita bust to reach the bonus zone and secure the coveted trophy.
The Kiwis will look for redemption next Friday at the Trans-Tasman double header.
Updated: 7:30pm AED
New Zealand became the first team through to the men’s World Cup 9s final after cruising to a 22-6 win against England.
Shaun Johnson was largely to thank for the Kiwis’ fast start. He firstly produced a try-saver on Jermaine McGillvary that jolted the ball loose, allowing Ken Maumalo to scoot away for the opening points.
Next, the mercurial playmaker perfectly summed up a blindside overlap to put Jamayne Isaako over in the corner for a 10-nil lead at the break.
Reimis Smith drove a dagger into England’s hearts with a try to start the second stanza before McGillvary latched onto a cross-field kick to get his side on the board.
There was no big fightback, however, as Isaako crossed for his sixth try of the tournament to ensure the Kiwis progressed to the decider.
A sensational team try finished off by Kanyon Paul was the highlight of the Kiwi Ferns’ 33-4 win over England which locked up a berth in the final against Australia.
All the Kiwi Ferns’ big guns got their hands on the ball before Paul plunged over in the bonus zone to put New Zealand on a collision course with their arch rivals in the women’s decider.
Krystal Rota opened the scoring for the Kiwis before England hit back through Amy Hardcastle but it was all New Zealand from there.
After leading 19-4 at the break the Kiwis stretched their advantage early in the second when Rota crossed wide out for her double.
Hireme then crossed for her second try to join Jillaroo Tiana Penitani as the tournament’s leading try-scorer with four.
New Zealand have tuned up for the World Cup 9s semi-finals with a runaway 46-0 win over the USA at Bankwest Stadium.
With playmaking maestro Shaun Johnson calling the shots the Kiwis ran in four first-half tries to blow the Hawks off the park.
Warriors winger Ken Maumalo got the scoring underway when he scored try off a lovely Kodi Nikorima pass and then it was Johnson’s turn to cross the stripe when he dazzled the defence to score in the bonus zone.
Jamayne Isaako and Bailey Simonsson rounded out the scoring in the opening nine minutes as the Kiwis led 19-0 at the break.
There was a slight scare for the Kiwis when Johnson limped off early in the second half but he is expected to be fine for the semi-finals.
Even with Johnson off the field the continued to flow as Maumalo bagged four tries and New Zealand’s offloads proved too much for the USA.
Canberra’s Bailey Simonsson scored the match-winning try for New Zealand in a nail-biting affair against a resurgent Papua New Guinea side.
Kiwis half Shaun Johnson made his presence felt early. He put Jamayne Isaako into the clear and then backed up the Broncos winger to take the pass back inside. Johnson then danced around Kumul defenders to ground the ball beneath the posts for a five-point try.
The Kumuls had two tries disallowed in either corner for putting a foot into touch. But their first points came off the long arm of Edene Gebbie, reaching over into the black box as PNG responded with their own five-pointer to lock up scores 7-7 at half-time.
Then lead changed four times in seven minutes in the second half.
PNG edged ahead ahead through Edwin Ipape sending a flick pass to teammate Nixon Putt to score. But the Kiwis grabbed the lead back (14-13) with their second five-pointer, through Jeremy Sharshall-King this time. The Kumuls weren’t done with Storm’s Justin Olam scoring, but Simonsson gave the Kiwis the last laugh.
The Kiwi Ferns bounced back from the 22-8 loss to Australia on Friday night with a five-tries-to-two win over the PNG Orchids on a sunny Saturday morning to stay in the hunt for Saturday night’s final.
A brace to winger Kiana Takairangi set up New Zealand’s 14-6 half-time lead. She beat the Orchids for pace in her first and then benefitted from a weaving Nita Maynard run for her second.
PNG’s Ua Ravu scored her second try of the tournament by running around Ferns centre Honey Hireme-Smiler but then the New Zealander made up for the error scoring a double herself either side of the break.
Australia opened their World Cup 9s in scintillating fashion with Josh Addo-Carr running free and David Fifita running rampant in a 25-12 win over New Zealand.
It took Addo-Carr less than a minute to open his tryscoring account when he cashed in on Wade Graham’s skilful lead-up work.
The Storm flyer made it two soon after and again Graham was the provider, this time with a perfectly weighted kick for ‘The Fox’ to chase.
New Zealand hit back when Jamayne Isaako latched onto a long ball from Shaun Johnson to score but the home side was in again when Fifita and Ryan Papenhuyzen combined to put Kyle Feldt over.
Rampaging Bronco Fifita then powered across for a four-pointer of his own to put the result beyond doubt but Johnson had some more magic up his sleeve to send Isaako across for a second try.
Fifita then capped a stunning night when he showed off all his athleticism to cross wideout.
The instructions from Jillaroos coach Brad Donald were to start fast and Australian co-captain Ali Brigginshaw obliged by setting up the first two Jillaroos tries before scoring one of her own.
A chip-chase paid off for the Broncos half as she scored a five-point try under the Bankwest Stadium goal posts. It blew the score out to 22-0 and despite two comeback tries by the Ferns through speedster wingers Atawhai Tupaea and Jules Newman, Australia enjoyed a comfortable 22-8 win.
“They came out firing and we couldn’t keep up. We were definitely behind the eight-ball at the start and gave them too much possession. We ended up chasing our tails all day,” Ferns utility Nita Maynard.
The New Zealand Rugby League has passed on its sympathies to Jeremy Marshall-King and his whanau following the death of his father Shane King in a car accident near Tauranga this week.
Marshall-King, half-brother of Kiwi legend Benji Marshall, was in camp with the New Zealand World Cup Nines team in Sydney when he learned of the crash.
Shane King (51), of Putaruru, was involved in an accident on State Highway 29 in the Lower Kaimai area on Tuesday night. Police divers later found his body inside the car which had ended up submerged in the Wairoa River after leaving the road.
Marshall-King spent the day with family on Wednesday before returning to camp, telling team management and his fellow players that it was his wish to play in the World Cup Nines in honour of his father.
He is set to make his Kiwi debut in New Zealand’s opening match against Australia at the tournament tonight.
“We are all feeling for Jeremy and his family and have rallied around him to give him all the support we can this week,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.
“He had time away but has told us he wants to play for his country and we’re all behind him to help him achieve his goal.
“We also wish to pass on our deepest condolences to Jeremy’s family at this sad time.”
The Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to the Marshall-King family when they line up in their matches against Australia tonight.
New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire has today confirmed veteran forward Adam Blair has been brought into the squad for the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney starting tomorrow.
He arrived from Auckland early this morning in time for the team’s final training session at Leichhardt Oval before tomorrow night’s opening pool game against Australia (9.00pm kick-off local time).
Blair (33), with 48 Tests and 311 NRL appearances to his name, comes in for would-be debutant Braden Hamlin-Uele. The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks interchange forward will sit out the World Cup Nines to prepare for the Tests to follow against the Kangaroos and the Great Britain Lions.
Blair had an eventful last 24 hours before joining the team, flying home to Auckland just yesterday after a family holiday on the Gold Coast and then being booked on an early flight to Sydney today.
Earlier in the week Sydney Roosters forward Zane Tetevano and Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad replaced the unavailable James Fisher-Harris and Jordan Rapana.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WORLD CUP NINES
LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)
ADAM BLAIR (Vodafone Warriors)
*DYLAN BROWN (Parramatta Eels)
*COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)
SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
*JEREMY MARSHALL-KING (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)
*CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD (Canberra Raiders)
BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)
KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans)
*BAILEY SIMONSSON (Canberra Raiders)
*REIMIS SMITH (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
*ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)
New Zealand Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson and Kiwi Ferns centre Honey Hireme – Smiler have today been confirmed to captain the national teams in the inaugural World Cup Nines at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Friday and Saturday.
Johnson (29) and Hireme (38) aren’t only the most seasoned international players in each of the squads but they can also draw on significant experience in the nines game.
Johnson appeared in each of the four NRL Nines tournaments at Eden Park in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, captaining the Vodafone Warriors in the first three before the legendary Ruben Wiki led the side in 2017.
Hireme also featured on the same stage twice in 2016 and 2017 for the Kiwi Ferns against the Jillaroos.
The first appearances for the pair were in central Sydney today when the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns gathered with every squad at the Botanical Gardens overlooking the harbour.
The full squads from the 16 competing countries – 12 men and four women – were captured in a number of photos including a spectacular one of all teams lined up together.
Johnson leads a 16-man team which features eight players yet to play for the Kiwis. The squad assembled in Sydney on Monday, having its first field session at Leichhardt Oval yesterday.
The Kiwi Ferns also trained for the first time yesterday. One change has been made to the side with Warriors hooker Kanyon Paul coming into the Kiwi Ferns for the first time as a late replacement for unavailable Brisbane dummy half Lavinia Gould.
The Kiwi Ferns open their campaign against the Jillaroos on Friday night with two more pool games against England and Papua New Guinea on Saturday night. The top two teams go into the final.
The Kiwis meet the Kangaroos on Friday night and have two more pool games against Papua New Guinea and the United States on Saturday. The top two teams from the group go into the semi-finals involving the winners of the other two pools. England is grouped with Wales, France and Lebanon in one pool while Tonga Invitational leads the remaining pool alongside Toa Samoa, Fiji Bati and Cook Islands.
Auckland, New Zealand, October 10, 2019 – Braden Hamlin-Uele, Corey Harawira-Naera, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Zane Tetevano are in line to make their debuts in the New Zealand Kiwis’ coming Tests against the Kangaroos and the Great Britain Lions.
The four players have all been named tonight in a squad which also features returns for winger Jamayne Isaako and back rowers Kevin Proctor and Joseph Tapine who weren’t involved in the June Test victory over Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium.
Tokoroa product Tetevano now has a third opportunity to play his first Test.
He was selected but then ruled out of last year’s end-of-season programme with injury and was then in the 19-man squad but didn’t make the playing 17 when the Kiwis beat Mate Ma’a Tonga 34-14 in June.
A premiership winner with the Sydney Roosters last year, the 28-year-old was a regular again throughout this season totalling 23 appearances but suffered further disappointment when, after being named for the grand final against Canberra, he was ultimately omitted.
Northland-raised Canterbury-Bankstown second rower Harawira-Naera has earned a second chance of making his Test debut. Like Tetevano, he was originally selected in last year’s squad for the home Test against Australia and the following three-match series in England only to be ruled out with injury.
He played for the New Zealand Māori Kiwis in the match against the Australian Indigenous All-Stars in Melbourne in January and went on to make 21 appearances in his first season with the Bulldogs.
After previously representing the Cook Islands at Test level, Nicoll-Klokstad comes into the Kiwi squad for the first time after a superb season for beaten grand finalists the Canberra Raiders. He scored 11 tries in 25 appearances.
Glenora Bears junior and former Junior Kiwi Hamlin-Uele earns selection after impressing in 21 interchange appearances for the Sharks this year.
Harawira-Naera, Hamlin-Uele, Nicoll-Klokstad and Tetevano are also in the Kiwis’ World Cup Nines squad, Tetevano coming into both sides today after James Fisher-Harris was forced to withdraw with injury and Nicoll-Klokstad being called in to replace Jordan Rapana. Rapana was originally chosen in both sides but has now been ruled out; his replacement in the Test squad is yet to be named.
Of the 19 players in the squad for the Tonga Test in June, 15 return for the internationals against the Kangaroos and the Lions. Four of the playing 17 are unavailable due to injury – captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, prop Jesse Bromwich, centre Esan Marsters and back rower Fisher-Harris.
Three players from the premiership-winning Roosters side are named – centre Joseph Manu, back rower Isaac Liu and prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – along with Tetevano while the beaten Raiders provide Nicoll-Klokstad and Tapine.
In all 11 players in the Test squad are also in the Kiwis’ World Cup Nines side.
The Nines players assemble in Sydney on Monday with the Test squad gathering on Sunday week.
The Kiwis begin their Test campaign with their Oceania Cup clash against the Kangaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 before flying to New Zealand for two Tests against the reformed GB Rugby League Lions (Great Britain).
The first of these will be the second match of an international tripleheader at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, November 2, which also features the Kangaroos facing Tonga Invitational and Toa Samoa taking on Fiji Bati in Oceania Cup matches.
The Kiwis then move to Christchurch for the second Test at Orangetheory Stadium (formerly AMI Stadium) on Saturday, November 9.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v KANGAROOS & GB RUGBY LEAGUE LIONS
Friday, October 25 7.30pm v Australia WIN Stadium
Saturday, November 2 5.00pm v Great Britain Eden Park
Saturday, November 9 8.00pm v Great Britain Orangetheory Stadium
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | SQUAD
Thinking of going to the Rugby League TRIPLE-HEADER at Eden Park on November 2nd?
Join the Mad Butcher and the former Kiwis listed below. Mix and mingle with Rugby League royalty in the Mad Butcher lounge in the West stand at Eden Park – plus reserved match tickets directly in front of the lounge in the Lower West stand.
Gates open – 1:30pm
Samoa v Fiji – 2:20pm
Great Britain v New Zealand – 5pm
Australia v Tonga – 7:40pm
For more detail contact Bryan 021 848 411 or email [email protected]
Ray Baxendale (Kiwi #519) — played 16 Tests and 23
other matches for Kiwis from 1975 to 1981. West Coast and
Canterbury second-row forward. Captained South Island. Also
played for Wakefield Trinity.
Tony Coll (Kiwi #503) — played 30 Tests and 35 other
matches or Kiwis from 1972 to 1982. West Coast second-row
forward for 12 years. Captained Kiwis in 1977 World Cup and
South Island to beat Australia.
Bruce Gall (Kiwi #559) — played 3 Tests and 19 other
matches on tours to Britain, France, Australia and Papua New
Guinea in 1980 and 1982. Taranaki forward who also played for
Balmain in Sydney.
Mark Graham (Kiwi #535) — played 29 Tests and 16 other
matches for Kiwis from 1977 to 1988. Auckland backrow
forward who also played for Brisbane Norths, North Sydney
and Wakefield Trinity. Captain in 18 Tests and on two tours to
Britain and France.
Dane O’Hara (Kiwi #528) — played 36 Tests and 27 other
matches for Kiwis from 1977 to 1986. Auckland wing who
played for Hull FC from 1981 to 1989. Captained Kiwis in 1980
home series against Australia.
Lyndsay Proctor (Kiwi #507) – played 13 Tests and 16 other
matches for Kiwis from 1974 to 1978. Auckland prop who also
played for New Zealand XIII in 1981and for New Hunslet club
Ken Stirling (Kiwi #489) – played 22 Tests and 21 other
matches for Kiwis from 1971 to 1978. Auckland scrum-half who
played all seven Tests of New Zealand’s 1971 Grand Slam year.
Captain in 14 of his Tests.
Graeme West (Kiwi #517) – Played 18 Tests and 19 other
matches for Kiwis from 1975 to 1985. Taranaki forward who
captained Kiwis in 4 Tests. Also captained Wigan to win 1985
Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
Eight debutants have now been included in the 16-man New Zealand Kiwis squad for the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on October 18 and 19.
When the line-up was originally named yesterday head coach Michael Maguire confirmed NRL rookies in Parramatta standoff Dylan Brown (19) and Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson (21) as well as second rower Corey Harawira-Naera (Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs), front rower Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), hooker Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs) and winger Reimis Smith (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).
In the past 24 hours Maguire has been forced to make two more changes after losing forward James Fisher-Harris and winger Jordan Rapana resulting in the inclusion today of two more players yet to play for the Kiwis – Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano and Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Simonsson, Marshall-King and Smith all have strong family connections in rugby league.
Simonsson’s father Paul was a 1987 All Black before switching from rugby union to rugby league when he played with the North Sydney Bears in the then Winfield Cup in 1991-92.
Marshall-King (23) makes the New Zealand team in the same year his older brother and rugby league legend Benji made his emotional Test comeback for the Kiwis against Mate Ma’a Tonga seven years after his last international.
And Smith (22) is the son of 1996-2000 Kiwi Tyran Smith, who played for seven clubs in his 188-game NRL career from 1993-2005.
Harawira-Naera (24) was originally named in the Kiwi squad for the end of season campaign against the Kangaroos and England last year before being ruled out with injury. Tetevano was also ruled out with injury after being selected for that campaign and wasn’t in the final 17 when he was with the Kiwis for their Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in June.
While bringing in eight newcomers, Maguire has a squad built around Test players in halves Shaun Johnson and Kodi Nikorima, second rowers Kevin Proctor, Briton Nikora and Joseph Tapine, wingers Ken Maumalo and Jamayne Isaako and prop Leeson Ah Mau.
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the whole group playing in the World Cup Nines,” said Maguire.
“I’m especially excited for the new players we’ve been able to bring into the group.
“We’ve got players right across this squad who have come off terrific NRL seasons and have earned the privilege to represent New Zealand. For us, this is another step towards taking the Kiwi jersey to the place we want it to be.”
The New Zealand World Cup Nines squad assembles in Sydney next Monday.
Following the Nines, the Kiwis switch mode to Test football with their Oceania Cup clash against the Kangaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 before flying to New Zealand for two Tests against the reformed GB Rugby League Lions (Great Britain).
The New Zealand Test squad will be announced tomorrow.
*BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Debutants denoted by *
By warriors.kiwi & Photosport.nz
As seen on warriors.kiwi/news
New Zealand rugby league greats Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones have tonight been revealed as two of the four players to join the NRL Hall of Fame in a formal induction ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday night.
In a momentous night for the game in New Zealand, they will be inducted alongside Australians Danny Buderus and Craig Young, joining 106 players previously honoured.
The Kiwi legends were among last year’s nominees when Kiwi legend and New Zealand player of the century Mark Graham (the first Kiwi included) was inducted along with Petero Civoniceva, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis.
And they were again included in a list of 25 nominees announced last week for this year’s intake.
Wiki (46) and Jones (43) were long-time Kiwi teammates throughout their careers, Wiki playing a then-world record 55 Tests from 1994 to 2006 while Jones made 46 Test appearances from 1995-2006; they also both captained the Kiwis.
Wiki became the first New Zealander to play 300 NRL games, finishing with a total of 312 appearances including 225 for Canberra and 87 for the Vodafone Warriors.
Jones played his entire NRL career with the Vodafone Warriors, making a club record 261 appearances (until Simon Mannering went ahead of him).
Wiki and Jones have both worked extensively for the Vodafone Warriors since their playing careers ended, Wiki as a strength and conditioning coach and Jones in a number of coaching positions (he’s now an NRL assistant coach).
They were both named in the New Zealand Rugby League’s Team of the Century and have both been included in the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
A voting college representing a cross section of the game – scroll down to see college members – selected their top five players to be included in the exclusive Hall of Fame club. The four players were selected through an independent audit of the votes.
NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said the four inductees were all worthy recipients of the honour.
“All four of our player inductees will stand proudly alongside the 106 players who they will join in the Hall of Fame,” Greenberg said.
“These are some of the best players of their generations, and they will now join the best of the best.
“They each dominated their respective eras and commanded enormous respect. They still do.
“This year’s Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one. We will be recognising greatness when our latest class are formally inducted.”
Senior manager of NRL awards Frank Puletua said the induction ceremony would be one of the most important nights on the calendar.
“This year, we will be acknowledging our contributors as well as our players,” Puletua said.
“The Hall of Fame induction has become an incredibly important night for the game as we take the opportunity to reflect on our pioneers and our finest players.
“All four of our player inductees can now forever be known as Hall of Famers, and that only adds to their standing in the game.”
Three contributors – one each from administration, broadcast media and print media – will be announced tomorrow ahead of the formal induction.
For more information on the NRL Hall of Fame and Immortals, please visit nrl.com/hall-of-fame/
Born: February 6, 1978, Taree, NSW
Junior Football: Taree United
Club: Newcastle Knights
Premiership Career 1997-2013: Newcastle Knights: Played 257. Points 246 (61 tries, 1 goal).
First Grade Debut: Newcastle v South Queensland at Marathon Stadium, 23/3/1997 (Rd 3)
Grand Finals: 1 – Newcastle 2001 (W)
Rep Career: Australia: Tests 24 (2001-06), Kangaroo tours 2001, 2003; Tri-Nations 2004, 2005. New South Wales: State of Origins 21 (2002-08). Country Origin: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008
Born: May 7, 1976, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Point Chevalier
Club: Vodafone Warriors
Premiership Career 1995-2009: Vodafone Warriors: Played 261. Points 674 (77 tries, 176 goals, 14 field goals). Super League 2006-2007: Les Catalans: Played 45 games.
First Grade Debut: Warriors v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium, 23/4/1995 (Rd 7)
Grand Finals: 1 – Warriors 2002 c (L)
Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 46 (1995-2006), World Cups 1995, 2000, Tri-Nations 1999, 2005, 2006; Captained Kiwis in seven Tests
Born: January 21, 1973, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Otara Scorpions
Clubs: Canberra Raiders, Vodafone Warriors
Position: Centre/Second Row/Prop
Tickets are on sale at 12pm today for the Australia vs New Zealand Double-Header Test matches set to take place on October 25th at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Thousands of rugby league fans are expected to join the strong local support for the only Test Matches scheduled on Australian soil in 2019.
“The Australia-New Zealand rivalry is a special one and it will be the only occasion this year fans can witness both the male and female teams competing in official Test Matches,” NRL Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Abdo said.
“It is the best players in both the NRL and NRLW competing for the unofficial title of the world’s best.
“We hosted a great crowd for the last international played in Wollongong in 2014, and we are excited to be returning to this important rugby league region again this year.”
It will be the first time the Australian Kangaroos have faced the New Zealand Kiwis at WIN Stadium, with the women’s sides having clashed at the venue back in 2014.
New Zealand Rugby League Chief Executive Officer Greg Peters said: “Trans Tasman rivalry showcases everything that is great about our game. To be able to see four of the World’s top Rugby League teams with points to prove in action on one day will make for a not to be missed fan experience. The Men’s match will also form part of the inaugural Oceania Cup and may well decide the winner of that trophy.”
The Harvey Norman Jillaroos held on for a nail-biting win over the Kiwi Ferns at Mt Smart on October 13 last year, while the Australian Kangaroos will be looking to avenge their 26-24 loss against the New Zealand Kiwis from the same day.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and nrl.com/tickets. Event-goers can also catch free train and shuttle services to and from WIN Stadium using just their event ticket, making public transport an attractive travel option for the event.
The Australia v New Zealand Double Header is supported by the New South Wales Government via Destination New South Wales.
The women’s and men’s matches will be broadcast live nationally across the Nine Network, Fox Sports and NRL Live Pass, and well as Sky NZ in New Zealand.
The Kiwis, Kangaroos, Great Britain Rugby League Lions and emerging Pacific powers Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are all set to hit New Zealand’s shores in October and November – and tickets are now on sale for the incredible blockbuster programme of international rugby league.
An Eden Park triple header that sees the Kiwis rekindle hostilities with old enemy The British Lions; the Kangaroos lock horns with Jason Taumalolo’s mighty Mate Ma’a Tonga; and Samoa and Fiji clash in a vital Oceania Cup showdown to showcase the international game on a single day at a single venue like never before.
With Christchurch also hosting a thrilling test match double header, and Hamilton welcoming back Tonga to the scene of their 2017 World Cup victory over the Kiwis – as they attempt to subdue another international superpower in the shape of Great Britain – New Zealand will play host to the best teams and players in the world over an incredible few weeks.
“This is an international rugby league spectacle which we’re not used to witnessing outside of the world cup,” NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said.
“The Oceania Cup and Lions Tour not only give fans and players more test match action but they highlight the quality of league being played around the globe.
“From the power and flare of our Pacific Nations to the long-awaited return of the GB Lions, these tests will shine a big spotlight on our game, as fans and players from both hemispheres set to congregate down under to witness nothing but world-class rugby league action.
“It’s a really promising time for rugby league, we know fans are already excited – so I’d urge people to get their tickets nice and early. We look forward to the blockbuster international calendar that awaits.”
International Rugby League Federation General Manager Southern Hemisphere Jeremy Edwards said the action-packed schedule was great for the entire Pacific region.
“It is the first time in many, many years we have got some meaningful content into the Pacific,” Edwards said.
“The Oceania Cup competition finally gives the nations down here a bit of respect.”
While the Kiwis, Kangaroos and Tonga are vying for the Oceania Cup, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea also have plenty to play for with the Oceania Shield and promotion to the Cup competition up for grabs.
The winner of the Shield will replace Australia in the Cup competition in 2020.
“That not only gives the top team in Pool B a chance to move into Pool A, but allows us to bring in the Cook Islands to Pool B,” says Edwards. “The Cook Islands has produced some incredible rugby league players and they are doing really well at the moment. They have got a match in November against the USA for the final position in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
“There is some really exciting stuff happening down here in the Pacific.”
Edwards said the return of the Great British Lions after a 12-year hiatus was also a huge positive for the international game.
“To be able to reinvigorate that and bring them down to this part of the world is really fantastic,” he said.
“And the desire for the Lions to go to Papua New Guinea to play the Kumuls says a lot about the development of rugby league in the Pacific. These matches open up so many doors for tourism and government opportunities – I think it is sensational.”
With Adult tickets starting from $20* (Christchurch and Hamilton) $25* (Auckland) and family passes from $50* (Christchurch and Hamilton) $60* (Auckland), Edwards said the triple header at Eden Park would provide tremendous value for money for rugby league fans.
“That is one of the things we have tried to do, to be able to appeal to Mum, Dad and the kids to come along and watch six great nations on family tickets that are really attractively priced.
“It’s three great matches of footy at a great venue, right in the middle of downtown Auckland. It’s a sensational evening of rugby league in rugby union heartland.”
The return of international rugby league to Christchurch and Hamilton after the cities successfully hosted matches during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup was also exciting, he said.
“Christchurch is a great venue, great city, beautiful scenery. Why not go and have a couple of days while you are there? And Hamilton is a great place as well with a great venue.”
OCEANIA CUP AND GREAT BRITAIN RUGBY LEAGUE LIONS TOUR FIXTURES
Saturday October 26 – FMG Stadium, Waikato
Saturday November 2 – Eden Park Triple Header, Auckland
Saturday November 9 – Double Header, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
*Ticket pricing Plus Fees
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
The NRL has confirmed the three pools which will make up the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, to be held at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta on October 18-19.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said today the format of the pools would ensure key rivals face each other in the fast-paced, action-packed short form of Rugby League.
During the official launch of the tournament today in Parramatta, it was revealed that:
Mr Greenberg said the two highest-placed teams from Group A would progress to the Semi Finals, alongside the winners of Groups B and C.
The two highest-placed teams from the Women’s pool, which features Australia, New Zealand, England and PNG, will feature in the women’s final.
The Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019 was formally launched today in Parramatta featuring Damien Cook (Kangaroos), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Kiwis), James Segeyaro (PNG), Maika Sivo (Fiji), Michael Jennings (Tonga), Anthony Milford (Samoa), Alex Glenn (Cook Islands), as well as Isabelle Kelly (Jillaroos) and Raecene McGregor (Kiwi Ferns).
Mr Greenberg said the pools were chosen to ensure exciting match-ups between traditional rivals.
He added all teams would play one match on Friday and a minimum of two matches on Saturday.
“The World Cup 9s will feature the most exciting players to watch in the game, representing their nations and their cultures,” Mr Greenberg said.
“It will be a festival of Rugby League and the fast-paced, frenetic nature of Nines will be fantastic to watch.
“This is Rugby League rebooted – a unique and exciting way to showcase our wonderful athletes.”
Mr Greenberg also detailed some of the key rules which will be in place during the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s:
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, said: “It’s an exciting time for our international game, we’re looking forward to watching both our Ferns and Kiwis take the field in what will be an entertaining weekend of fast-paced rugby league action.”
Two-day passes for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s will go on sale for the General Public on Wednesday (July 24).
Single-day passes will be available to purchase for the General Public from August 7.
Tickets will be available via nrl.com/tickets.
The 12 teams in the men’s competition and four teams in the women’s tournament will compete across 28 matches and 12 hours of action. Every men’s and women’s match will be broadcast live across the two days of competition.
Two tries from star half Shaun Johnson and a brilliant showing from young hooker Brandon Smith led the New Zealand Kiwis to a 34-14 victory over Mate Ma’a Tonga in the opening game of the Oceania Cup on Saturday.
Smith was in a class of his own for much of the match at Mount Smart Stadium, at times making Tonga’s defence appear second rate with his piercing runs, as he clocked up 10 tackle busts and 126 running metres in less than an hour on the field.
The energetic Melbourne Storm rake was also directly involved in two of New Zealand’s six tries, scoring the opening one with a 35-metre dart before setting up another early in the second half with another long-range run and kick.
There would have been daylight between Smith and the next best Kiwi had it not been for Johnson’s performance, with the playmaker starring in his first game back in Auckland since his dramatic exit from the Warriors at the end of 2018.
It was also his 30th Test for his country.
Johnson crossed twice at the back end of the first half and managed the game well alongside Benji Marshall in what was only the pair’s second Test together.
In front of 23,624 mostly Tongan fans in Auckland, the Kiwis raced out to a 16-4 lead at the break and didn’t look back, going some way to avenging their shock 28-22 loss to the island nation at the 2017 World Cup.
After Smith’s 11th minute try, which Esan Marsters converted, Tonga began to dominate the game and eventually hit back via Solomone Kata, after Daniel Tupou’s clever bat-back of a John Asiata kick.
Up 6-4 with half-time approaching, the Kiwis got a timely injection from Johnson, with the Cronulla Sharks ace twice slicing through Tonga’s left edge to extend the home side’s lead.
Minutes into the second half Smith’s destructive carry through the middle of the park, and well-weighted grubber into the goal-post pad, saw Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pounce on the loose ball for New Zealand’s fourth.
Tonga fought hard to try and get back into the match, but their lack of a genuine play-maker was clear to see and they struggled to build pressure.
With 20 minutes to go the air appeared to have been knocked out of Tonga, and the Kiwis made them pay with tries in quick succession to debutant Jahrome Hughes and centre Joseph Manu.
Back-to-back tries to Sydney Roosters Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Daniel Tupou inside the final 10 minutes saw Tonga reduce the final deficit to 20.
Waikato rugby league achieves a special double by providing captains of both the New Zealand Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns in today’s international double header at Mount Smart Stadium.
Hamilton-born, Ngaruawahia-raised Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s junior club was College Old Boys in Hamilton.
He captains the Kiwis for the fifth time in today’s Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga after making his captaincy debut in last October’s clash against Australia at the same ground.
Putaruru-born and raised Honey Hireme brings a Waikato flavour to the Kiwi Ferns’ captaincy today. Hireme, who now lives in Hamilton, played her junior rugby league for the Putaruru Dragons and is playing for the Hamilton City Tigers this year.
Kiwi Ferns team changes
Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has shuffled his line-up for today’s international against Fetu Samoa at Mount Smart Stadium (3.10pm kick-off).
Debutante Charntay Poko was named in jersey #18 when the team was officially submitted on Tuesday but following the week’s training sessions, Morgan has brought her in to start in the halves with Raecene McGregor.
That sees Raquel Anderson-Pitman (#6) moved to the interchange while there’s also a change in the starting front row with Amber Paris Hall (#15) swapped in for Aieshaleigh Smalley (#8).
The bench is Anderson-Pitman, Smalley, Nita Maynard and Crystal Tamarua with Amber Kani and Jules Newman the 18th and 19th players.
The New Zealand Kiwis are confirmed to line up 1-17 as named on Tuesday with Zane Tetevano and Kieran Foran in #18 and #19.
While Kani has missed the playing 17 for the Kiwi Ferns, eight of her 2018 Warriors WNRL team-mates are in the side. The Vodafone Warriors also provide three members of the coaching staff in Justin Morgan and Luisa Avaiki plus trainer Mark Harvey. The eight players lining up are Apii Nicholls, Hilda Mariu, Krystal Rota, Annetta Nuuausala, Georgia Hale, Anderson-Pitman, Smalley and Tamarua.
In a reversal of their Kiwi Ferns roles, Avaiki will again coach the Warriors in the WNRL this year while Morgan will be her assistant.
The Vodafone Warriors also provide two of Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire’s assistant coaches in Stacey Jones and Nathan Cayless as well as three players in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo and Leeson Ah Mau.
Previous clashes against Tonga
Tonight’s Test will be the sixth between the Kiwis and Mate Ma’a Tonga.
Results since the first in 1995:
1995 | Kiwis 25, Tonga 24 at Wilderspool, Warrington (RLWC)
1999 | Kiwis 74, Tonga 0 at Carlaw Park, Auckland
2008 | Kiwis 56, Tonga 8 at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
2009 | Kiwis 40, Tonga 24 at International Stadium, Rotorua
2017 | Kiwis 22, Tonga 28 at Waikato Stadium, Auckland
Sir Peter Leitch Challenge Trophy at stake
The Kiwis v Tonga Test is the first in the new Oceania Cup competition.
The Kiwis will meet the Kangaroos at the end of the season and Tonga will play the Australians as well.
Also at stake tonight is the Sir Peter Leitch Challenge Trophy.
This was first contested as the Peter Leitch QSM Challenge Trophy in 2008 when the Kiwis met Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium.
A new version of the trophy was struck after Sir Peter was knighted. It’s at stake whenever the Kiwis play island nations in non-Rugby League World Cup internationals.
Marshall not most experienced Kiwi
While the 34-year-old Benji Marshall made his Kiwi Test debut as long ago as 2005, he won’t be the New Zealand side’s most experienced international on the field today.
That honour belongs to halves partner Shaun Johnson who is Marshall’s junior by six years.
Johnson (28) will play his 30th Test today while Marshall, off the international scene for seven years, lines up for the 28th time.
In fact, two other Kiwi players have also made more Test appearances than Marshall. Props Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves both take their Test tallies to 29 in this contest.
Richard Becht & Photosport.nz
Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson have been listed as the starting halves combination for the New Zealand Kiwis’ Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
Head coach Michael Maguire has named Marshall (34) in the No 7 jersey for his 28th Test, seven years after his last. Johnson is listed in the No 6 jersey for his 30th international.
The Kiwis were required to submit their team tonight despite having just their first field session at Mount Smart Stadium today. Of the starting team used in the 34-0 third Test win over England in Leeds last November, four players are missing.
Captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named on the wing replacing Jamayne Isaako with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in his first Test since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Marshall replaces the unavailable Kodi Nikorima while debutant Briton Nikora and Kenny Bromwich – on the interchange in Leeds – come into the starting back row to replace the injured Kevin Proctor and Adam Blair.
The extended bench comprises Jahrome Hughes, Leeson Ah Mau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, James Fisher-Harris, Zane Tetevano and Kieran Foran.
Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan has also named a strong and clinical team to take on Fetu Samoa on Saturday (3.10pm). It features debutantes Madison Bartlett and Kiana Takairangi.
The Kiwi Ferns also trained at Mount Smart Stadium today.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v MATE MA’A TONGA
5.40pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia)
For full player profiles please click here – https://bit.ly/2KYd6wS
KIWI FERNS v FETU SAMOA
3.10pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Paki Parkinson (New Zealand)
HEAD COACH | JUSTIN MORGAN
Photo – photosport
SKY Sport and New Zealand Rugby League have today announced a new partnership for 2019 that is set to further enhance the game of rugby league in New Zealand.
This partnership is in addition to the long-standing broadcast agreement that has showcased rugby league in New Zealand and abroad for many years.
The SKY Sport logo will be proudly displayed on the jerseys of the Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis, as well as on the Kiwi Ferns’ shorts ahead of the Oceania Cup that kicks off this Saturday with the Kiwi Ferns taking on Fetu Samoa, followed by the much-anticipated rematch between Mate Ma‘a Tonga and the Kiwis.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, says this partnership with SKY Sport couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Like other codes, we are experiencing an explosion in the women’s game, and this high-profile partnership will shine a brighter spotlight on this.
“Their support will enable our Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis to take the field in more fixtures this year than would have otherwise been possible. Our Kiwi Ferns will play in the upcoming inaugural World Nines in Sydney and take the field again against the Jillaroos at the doubleheader in Wollongong on October 25th. Our Junior Kiwis are also set to take on their Australian counterparts towards the back end of the year as well.
“We are very grateful to have SKY Sport on board to enable further momentum for these teams. We’re excited about what we can achieve this year as a result, as well as going forward, as we work towards a long-term partnership. Thank you SKY Sport for your ongoing and invaluable support.” Greg concludes.
SKY Director of Sport, Tex Teixeira says: “SKY Sport has been a long term supporter of rugby league in New Zealand and we’re thrilled to be able to help increase the number of Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis matches being played in 2019, to have SKY Sport on the jerseys is a proud moment for us.”
Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran have tonight been confirmed in the 19-strong Kiwi squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
The pair were initially included in a 27-man group named on Thursday night but have now moved a step closer to the prospect of a return to the Test arena.
The 34-year-iold Marshall joined the New Zealand team’s camp in Auckland tonight seven years after last wearing the black and white jersey in the end-of-season Test against the Kangaroos in Townsville in 2012. Marshall was captain that night – the 27th Test of his career – in a match the Kiwis lost 10-18.
Foran returns to a New Zealand squad for the first time since lining up in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st international. He won’t join the Kiwis until tomorrow following his appearance for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs against the Roosters in Sydney today.
He’ll travel with new Bulldogs team-mate and 2018 Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak along with Roosters players Joseph Manu, Issac Liu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tokoroa-born Zane Tetevano, one of three players in line to make their Kiwi Test debuts on Saturday night.
Tetevano (28) was originally selected for last year’s end of season campaign against Australia and England before being ruled out with injury following the Roosters’ grand final win. He now has a chance to wear the Kiwi jersey for the first time after previously representing Cook Islands in five Tests.
The other players in line to debut are Wellington-born Melbourne utility Jahrome Hughes (24) and Tauranga-born Cronulla second rower Briton Nikora (21), who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.
Vodafone Warriors halfback Kodi Nikorima and Canberra’s Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine have been ruled out by their clubs while Vodafone Warriors second rower Tohu Harris was also unavailable.
In all 14 of the 19 players were involved in last year’s campaigns and a 15th – Tetevano – was an original selection. As well as Marshall and Foran, Vodafone Warriors captain and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – who has scored 13 tries in 16 Tests – makes his return to the Kiwis after last appearing in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WIDER SQUAD
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA (Melbourne Storm)
JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
KENNEATH BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
KIERAN FORAN (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)
ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)
JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)
BENJI MARSHALL (Wests Tigers)
ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)
BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)
ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Vodafone Warriors)
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs) Captain
Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran are among 27 players named in a wider Kiwi squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
The last of the 34-year-old Marshall’s 27 Tests was in 2012 when he captained the Kiwis in a 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville.
Foran (28) last played at international level in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st outing for the national team.
Another feature of the extended squad is the inclusion of Tauranga-born Sharks second rower Briton Nikora, who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.
The only other three players named who are yet to make their Kiwi Test debuts are Wellington-born Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes (24). Tokoroa-born Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano (28) and Tonga-born Vodafone Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi (27). Hughes and Paasi were in the Kiwis’ end-of-season touring squad last year but didn’t appear in a Test while Tetevano, who has played at international level for Cook Islands, was originally selected for the campaign before being ruled out by injury.
“We’re really pleased with the quality and form of the players we’ve been able to select,” said second-year Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.
“Nearly all of them have come through the Test we had against England in Denver last year and the matches against Australia and England later in the year. As a group we made a lot of progress and now it’s all about building on that.
“This Test against Tonga at Mount Smart is going to be a huge occasion and we can’t wait to be part of it.
“It kicks off what is a tremendous year for the international game with the introduction of the Oceania Cup competition, the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines and our series against the Great Britain Rugby League Lions.”
In all 22 of the 27 players named in the Kiwis’ wider squad tonight were involved in last year’s campaigns; the exceptions are Marshall, Foran, Tetevano, Nikora and Vodafone Warriors captain and 2018 Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
NRL competition leader Melbourne provides five players in the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny, front rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona, hooker Brandon Smith and Hughes while there are seven Vodafone Warriors in fullback Tuivasa-Sheck, wing Ken Maumalo, halfback Kodi Nikorima, prop Leeson Ah Mau, hooker Issac Luke, second rower Isaiah Papali’i and Paasi.
The Sydney Roosters boast four players in 2018 New Zealand Rugby League Player of the Year Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, centre Joseph Manu, back rower Isaac Liu and Tetevano.
The final 19-man Test squad will be announced after the NRL’s 14th round finishes with the clash between the Sydney Roosters and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday evening.
ISSAC LUKE (Vodafone Warriors)
AGNATIUS PAASI (Vodafone Warriors)
ISAIAH PAPALI’I (Vodafone Warriors)
JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Photo – Photosport
Congratulations to league legend, Sir Graham Lowe, who headlined NZ sporting identities in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours – becoming a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Firstly known for his dedication to the game, this accolade recognises his important services off the field, as he’s knighted for his work with youth and education.
Sir Graham has enjoyed a distinguished career in the game, coaching the Kiwis to victory over the all-conquering Kangaroos, guiding Manly and Wigan to success in Australian and English professional ranks, and steering Queensland home over NSW at State of Origin.
He previously received a Queen’s Service Medal in 1986 New Year Honours and became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 New Year Honours, but all his titles – including this latest – have recognised his community service.
The 72-year-old was knighted for his services to youth and education, with his Lowie Foundation delivering a literacy and numeracy programme to 12-19-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Rugby league and sport are really important and play a big part in our lives, but I’m a believer in supporting, helping and educating disadvantaged young people,” he said.
“I saw many times young people who were oozing rugby league talent, but they lacked a successful pathway because they didn’t appreciate how important literacy and numeracy were in life. So many of them missed out and when I combine that with many of the players I’ve coached, I owe so much to them.
“A lot of them came from these really disadvantaged backgrounds and I wanted to see if I could put something back in that area. That’s what I’ve been really focused on for many years.”
We want to congratulate Graham for epitomising our More Than A Game philosophy and thank him for his hard work and dedication to effecting important change within our communities.
New Zealand rugby league has lost a legend.
It’s with great sorrow that we announce Kiwi #634 and Warrior #52, Quentin Pongia, lost his battle with bowel cancer on Saturday, May 18th, 2019.
Originally from the West Coast, Pongia moved to Canterbury at 18 in 1988. He crossed the Tasman in 1993 to play for Canberra, winning a premiership with them the following year. He remained with the club through to the end of 1997 before joining the Warriors in 1998, followed by the Roosters, Dragons and Wigan.
The relentless prop played 137 NRL games in his 13-year career, in which he gained a reputation as one of the game’s most feared players. On top of this, he also leaves behind a legacy carved by his black and white jersey.
Quentin represented the Kiwis 35 times between 1992 and 2000. He played a monumental role in New Zealand’s back-to-back victories over the Kangaroos at North Harbour Stadium in the 1990s, he then went on to captain the 1998 touring team that remains the only Kiwis side unbeaten from a three-test series in England, also earning himself New Zealand Rugby League player of the year.
In 2004, Quentin hung up his boots while signed with Wigan when it was discovered that he suffered from the contagious blood disorder hepatitis B. However, his involvement in rugby league didn’t end there. Pongia remained in the game when his playing days finished, having time on Canberra’s football staff and more recently he worked in the wellbeing area for the NRL, the Rugby League Players’ Association and lastly the Manly Sea Eagles.
He was also on the Kiwis’ staff for the 2009 end of season Four Nations campaign in the United Kingdom and France.
In an interview with stuff.co.nz last year, Quentin said “I’m a passionate Kiwi. That will never change … I’ve been away for 25 years in Australia, but I’m still black and white…It’s something that’s pretty close to my heart.”
A gentleman on and off the field, a legend of the game and a true friend to many. New Zealand Rugby League passes on their condolences to Quentin’s friends and family.
“Like a number of players who played with him, I have nothing but respect and a wonderful friendship with Quentin and although it saddens me to hear of the news, it comforts me to know he has no pain now. Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with and I know how hard he fought to beat this terrible disease. He will be sorely missed right across the rugby league community.” – Current Canberra coach and former teammate, Ricky Stuart.
“A legend, an absolute legend of rugby league. He played the game full on all the time, gave no quarter and the same with his cancer, he fought it until the bitter end – a wonderful man.” Sir Peter Leitch.
Vodafone Warriors and Kiwis hooker Issac Luke tweeted: “Farrrrrout this has saddened our @NRL and @NZRL_Kiwis community. Moe mai rā tōku tuakana. Thoughts and love to Q’s whanau. No more pain now brother. Only memories of how tough you were as a player on and off the field. May you rest in Love.”
Ex-Kiwi and Vodafone Warriors centre Nigel Vagana tweeted: “My @NZRL_Kiwis debut .. the 1st Anzac Test.. Johnny Lomax got hurt in opening 30secs. Q had to play 80mins in the front row, 1st game back after a long suspension & led us to victory. One of the toughest ever in the Black & White. Ka kite ano Uso.”
“Very sad to hear the passing of Quentin Pongia. One of the toughest NRL players of modern rugby league, and that reflected especially when he represented the Kiwis” – Kiwi and Manly Sea Eagles player, Martin Taupau tweeted.
“Being born in NZ but growing up in Oz, I found myself always following Kiwi players, regardless of the club jersey they wore. Quentin Pongia was one of the toughest to ever wear the black jersey and I’m so grateful to have known him. Rest In Peace Q” – Former Kiwi, Dene Halatau tweeted.
We invite you to join us at a luncheon hosted by Sir Peter Leitch, in support of Quentin’s family at the Ellerslie Event Centre on June 7.
Photo – PhotosportNZ
As seen on nrl.com by Corey Rosser
The promise of a permanent spot in the halves was the key factor in Kodi Nikorima deciding to seek an immediate release from Brisbane and join the New Zealand Warriors.
The Warriors announced the signing of Nikorima through until the end of 2021 on Friday, with the 25-year-old expected to debut for his new club against the Dragons during the NRL’s Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in round nine on Saturday.
Nikorima said the Broncos made it clear they saw teenager Thomas Dearden as their long-term halfback, at which point the positional security on offer at the Warriors became too good to turn down.
“[Brisbane] were pretty up front and honest in saying that Tom was probably their future half there,” Nikorima said.
“The Warriors came to me and said that they want me to play in the halves here … in the end it was the best decision for myself.
“At the end of the day it was just the fact that there’s a lot of security here, there’s a future for myself in a position that I want to play.
“The Broncos couldn’t offer me anything like that. I could have waited until the end of the year, but that contract that was on offer [from the Warriors] might not have become available then.
“I am grateful for the opportunity that [Brisbane] have given me [by releasing] me right now, and excited about the new journey and new chapter ahead.”
Nikorima said the Kiwi connection at the Warriors was also a crucial factor in his decision to sign with the Auckland-based club.
He was given his Test debut for the Kiwis by now Warriors coach Stephen Kearney in 2015, and he has strong relationships with a number of the squad through time together in camp with New Zealand.
“Knowing Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] and Issac Luke, who form part of the spine too will definitely help me in transferring from the Broncos into the Warriors’ system,” Nikorima said.
“And also having that relationship with Steve Kearney should help as well.
“That played a big part too. I have had a pretty good relationship with Mooks [Kearney], we have kept in touch over the years and I am really excited to play under him again.”
Nikorima also revealed he and future halves partner Blake Green had already held discussions about the roles they will play in the side, with Nikorima at pains to insist he wouldn’t be attempting to emulate Shaun Johnson’s style.
“I just spoke to Blake briefly before his game [against the Knights] and he sort of said that he wants me playing both sides and just playing off him, I guess playing more of that six role,” Nikorima said.
“Things aren’t going to click straight away … it might take time.
“I don’t really see it as replacing Shaun. What Shaun’s done here has been incredible and I don’t want to compare myself to him, nor will I compare myself to the past players like Stacey Jones.
“I have come here to be who I am. I’m Kodi Nikorima, I’m no one else and I won’t ever try and be anyone else.”
Sir Peter Leitch invites you to a buffet luncheon in support of Quentin Pongia’s family after he sadly lost his battle with cancer. With our M.C. former Vodafone Warrior and Kiwi Jerry Seuseu, come join us for interviews with Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki and Stephen Kearney, plus a special auction. All proceeds on the day will go to towards Quentin’s two-year-old daughter, Maia.
Click here for tickets.
Thank you for your support.
Sir Peter Charles Leitch KNZM QSM
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Kiwi #373 Duncan MacRae who played three Tests for the Kiwis in 1956.
Today marks what would have been Kiwi #556 Bernard Green’s sixtieth birthday.
Bernard Green was among workers in Roa Mine that were killed when a shaft of a coal mine collapsed just after 11am on September 7th 2006.
Bernie was selected for the New Zealand squad that was touring Great Britain and France, becoming Kiwi number 556.
Bernie was a Kiwi, a great guy, working class, a very popular and well-known sportsperson.
Sir Peter Leitch invites you to a buffet luncheon to support Quentin Pongia to raise funds to help him in his fight to battle cancer. With our M.C. former Vodafone Warrior and Kiwi Jerry Seuseu, come join us for interviews with Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki and Stephen Kearney, plus a special auction. All proceeds on the day will go to the Quentin Pongia Trust.
As seen on NRL.com by Senior Reporter Margie McDonald
Martin Taupau has the chance to do his bit and support his New Zealand brothers and sisters when Manly play the Warriors in Christchurch later in March.
But that is round three. Taupau’s first focus is on the Roosters at Lottoland on Sunday in round two.
However, the scenes and consequences of the mosque shootings in Christchurch last Friday have jolted Taupau into thinking of next week’s visit.
He has been watching and listening at the outpouring of emotion from nations worldwide. And it makes his chest swell.
“It makes me not only proud to be a New Zealander but proud to be a human being,” Taupau said on Monday.
“There’s so much love going on around the world in support that gives me a lot of faith in humanity at the moment.
“It’s a great sign with world leaders, movie stars, other influential people and sporting leaders of every capacity have come out in support. It’s awesome.”
Tapau was born and bred in south Auckland, but events like last Friday immediately unite the South and North islands.
“New Zealanders are New Zealanders. We’re all from one mother.”
That explains in part his anxiety to get back home for the round three game at Christchurch’s ANZ Stadium.
“It will great for us to get in among the community and show our support not just as a club but also as the NRL.
“It’s hard, it’s a very sensitive subject to talk about, not just for there but for everyone globally.
“It’s very sad and you feel lost for words.”
Manly and the Warriors are sure to make their presence felt in the local community and try to spread some kinship and friendship.
But first, the Roosters. The premiers are coming off a loss, which is never an easy scenario to face.
“It’s perfect for us to play them at Lottoland. It’s our ground so hopefully we get the support out and not the torrential rain,” Taupau said.
The Sea Eagles will be without Addin Fonua-Blake after he copped a one-match ban after being charged for two dangerous tackles in the 20-6 loss to the Wests Tigers last Saturday.
Fonua-Blake was the highest metre-eater for the Sea Eagles with 198 metres.
“It’s hard but we’ve definitely got the muscle with Kelepi [Tanginoa] back [injured knee in Sharks trial] and Jake [Trbojevic] on fire as well. Jake can do a million tackles and get up and not look fatigued at all. Same with Api Koroisau,” Taupau said.
“Our defence was astronomical. It was awesome compared with the last three years. Our defensive structure was there – the intent, just everything. It all came into place.”
Trbojevic agreed the defence was resolute against the Tigers but it only lasted for three-quarters of the game.
“I guess we put ourselves under too much pressure [with errors] which got us in the end,” he said.
“Our defence was good and that gave us a lot of confidence. But you can’t keep putting yourselves under that sort of pressure and come away with a win.
“They kept getting repeat set, repeat set on our errors and penalties.”
Trbojevic’s clash with Roosters No.13 Victor Radley will be a key head-to-head contest this Saturday.
“He is great to watch and does everything at 100 miles an hour. He has great impact so any team will have to watch him,” he said.
New Zealand is set to get a massive injection of international rugby league matches in 2019, with the Great Britain Rugby League Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and the inaugural Oceania Cup getting the green light.
The first match of the Oceania Cup has the New Zealand Kiwis going head-to-head with Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart in the re-match that everyone has been waiting for. The Kiwi Ferns will also take on a Pacific Island team on the same night. This mid-season clash is one of three Tests the Kiwis will play in New Zealand, with the end-of-season Test against the Kangaroos being played in Wollongong.
The inaugural Oceania Cup will be made up of Pool A – comprising New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga – and Pool B – made up of Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Organisers also announced that the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will be in action in the southern hemisphere for the first time in 13 years, playing two Test matches against New Zealand (2 November at Eden Park and 9 November at Christchurch Stadium) and Tests against Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters said he was “excited to see all the hard work behind the scenes come into fruition with more international rugby league content locked in for our country and our fans.”
“We could not be doing this without the support of New Zealand Government, the host cities and NZRL’s commercial partners so I’m incredibly grateful to all of them for making this possible.”
“Our rugby league community in New Zealand has been hoping for more international and Kiwis fixtures in our back yard for a while now so I’m pleased we’re able to deliver on this for them,”
“New Zealand Rugby League is also delighted to be bringing such an event to New Zealand that will also benefit the teams throughout the Pacific.”
RLIF Southern Hemisphere General Manager Jeremy Edwards was delighted to announce such a packed schedule.
“This international program is both exciting and ground-breaking and it is great to see the Great Britain Rugby League Lions following in the historic footprints of previous tours.”
“The Oceania Cup is an important step in creating a full international calendar that fans, players and commercial partners can enjoy.”
“It has taken a huge amount of work to deliver this and I commend the efforts of all those who have brought us to this point. It is a great platform for the international game in the Asia Pacific Region.”
Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) Chief Executive Officer Ian Prendergast says the Oceania Cup and Great Britain Rugby League Lions are fantastic additions to the International Rugby League calendar.
“It is fantastic that there will be significant international content in 2019, including new properties in the Nines and the Oceania Cup, as well as the Great Britain Rugby League Lions touring down under.”
“It reflects the enhanced profile, interest and competitiveness of International Rugby League. In particular, the Oceania Cup provides a tremendous new platform for the Pacific nations to compete on the world stage.”
“We have enjoyed working through the process with the RLIF and the nations to establish the schedule for 2019 and look forward to continuing these discussions when planning for future matches takes place.”
“The international game presents exciting opportunities for our members and through continued collaboration we look forward to further showcasing the wonderful rugby league talent we have in the game.”
Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer said the return of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions was highly-anticipated.
“The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time so this is an exciting announcement for us.”
“It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.”
“There is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt, it’s great for the game to have it back and we’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition.”
Note: Event organisers are grateful for the support for New Zealand government through the Major Events Development Fund, ATEED, H3 and ChristchurchNZ.
2019 Kiwis fixtures:
Saturday, 22 June – Kiwis v Mate Ma’a Tonga – Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand
Friday, 25 October – Kiwis v Kangaroos – WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Australia
Saturday, 2 November – Kiwis v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Saturday, 9 November – Kiwis v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
As seen on TVNZ Breakfast and the 1 Newsnow website.
Retired Kiwi league player Lewis Brown is using the heartbreak of losing his father to suicide to help him launch a new career as a fashion designer.
Brown retired from the NRL after last season and has since found a new passion to invest his time in – clothing.
“I’ve always been into fashion and I’ve always liked sneakers and street fashion,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.
“My biggest fear while I was playing footy was ‘am I ever going to be passionate about something as much as footy when I finish’, so I found that passion in fashion and decided to bite the bullet, jump in the deep end and launch my own range.”
The result was Earl’s Collection – a street clothing label launched at the start of February.
Despite his limited knowledge on terminologies in the business, Brown is already seeing success, with an excess of 300 orders in two weeks.
The former Kiwis second-rower, who played in the NRL for the Warriors, Penrith and Manly, said he found inspiration for the name from his dad.
“My middle name is Earl and my father’s middle name is also Earl,” he said.
“Unfortunately, two years ago, my father took his own life. I never really had much of relationship with my dad when I was younger – I grew up with my single mum – and it was a bit of a tough time.
“But my dad was styley dude so I kind of just thought, ‘I didn’t really have the relationship I did when I was with him when I was younger,’ so I’m taking him on this journey now.
“When my dad’s stuff happened, it taught me that life is too short and to do something that you love doing.”
Brown says since launching the company, he’s living life with a smile on his face.
“I’m picking and packing orders out of my own lounge and stuff like that so I’m really connected to the brand.”
By Stuff.co.nz – Sam Phillips
It’s all about iwi for the New Zealand Māori All Stars.
Iwi, the Māori word for “people” or “nation”, identifies which tribe a New Zealand native is from and when the official team lists are printed in Friday’s match program, each player will have their iwi next to their surname.
That will mark a proud moment for each of the inaugural Māori All Stars and their families, according to hooker Brandon Smith.
“It’s definitely a proud moment, particularly for my mother’s side of the family,” Smith said in Melbourne.
“She’s a Māori and for her this is massive. Getting to see my iwi next to my name in the team lists – she was super excited.
“This game is for her.”
Many of Smith’s team-mates feel the same way.
While not all are well versed in the intricacies of their heritage, James Tamou pointed to each player’s family roots when asked what the game meant to those taking part.
“It’s what you grow up with as family,” Tamou said.
“That’s why all the Māori players are here, representing that.
“Even still to this day there are parts of my family that are pretty solid foundation, keeping strong within the Māori culture in our family.
Each Māori All Star was presented with a special greenstone upon arrival in camp on Sunday.
The gift will serve as a reminder of the culture the team is representing when they run onto AAMI Park on Friday night.
“It was a gift to take away on your journey so you always remember where you came from,” Tamou said.
“All these players have their own journey in life and they will always be part of the Maori heritage and Maori culture to go with it.
“Some boys will cherish it everywhere we go.”
The energy with which the Maori men have embraced the new All Stars concept leads one to believe the NRL may be onto a winner.
The fan vote, combined with the clash of two iconic cultures, leads Maori coach Stacey Jones to believe the concept would work in New Zealand as well.
“I’m sure it would [do well] anywhere in New Zealand,” he said.
“When you look at the calibre of players on both teams – there would be massive support.
“It’s very special.
“These guys playing in this game are giving back to the game, giving back to the Māori people.
“Hopefully some kids that will be watching will say one day I want to be in that team.”
Tamou echoed Jones’ sentiment.
“As soon as they announced it, I imagined the passion which was going to come out from both teams,” he said.
“It will be unreal. It will be a good showcase for the fans.
“This week we are getting a really good understanding about Māori and I’m sure the Indigenous team are doing the same over there.
“When it all comes together it will show how cultures collide and not only the excitement of football but how passionate the players can all be about it.”
Smith believes that passion would also translate to a potential Pacific Nations team.
Should Friday’s match prove a success, the Storm hooker suggested a Tri Nations type tournament should be looked at in the near future.
But first, Smith believes stamping this fixture as an annual event should be top priority.
“It showcases the two cultures and the ability that they have, so I think it’s a really good idea,” he said.
“The way the NRL is pushing it at the moment … hopefully it goes really well.
“What the Tongans have done for rugby league is really good for the Pacific Nations.
“Hopefully one day we could get a Pacific team as well in there – a tri series – something like that.”
Smith also likes the notion of taking the match to New Zealand but with Storm-Warriors games often drawing 50-50 crowds, he cheekily suggested it may feel like a home match on Friday anyway.
“I think we will have a lot of home support. When we played the Anzac test at AAMI Park there were a lot of Kiwis there,” he said.
“Melbourne has a lot of Kiwi fans, so hopefully they all turn up on the weekend.”
It was a trip down memory lane for Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith, and a once in a lifetime experience for 48 kids at the Waiheke Island Holiday Blast.
A Waiheke Rams junior, Smith has in recent years become a key part of the Melbourne Storm’s NRL side and a capped Kiwi international.
This week marked the first time the Auckland Rugby League has taken its school holiday programme to the island, and Smith said as soon as he found out it coincided with his visit to Waiheke, he was keen to be part of it.
“What stood out to me was the attendance, to see so many happy faces, it reminded me of when I was a junior,” Smith said.
“I loved being here at the rugby league club when I was younger, so just seeing the amount of kids with smiles on their faces, you can tell they are having a really good time.”
Smith spoke to the attendees and took part in activities with them, and believed the programme was a great way to grow rugby league.
“This is something that can help grow the sport moving forward on the island,” he said.
“I gave up my time because I really want to help rugby league grow here in New Zealand, not just on Waiheke, and I believe it starts from grassroots rugby league.”
Auckland Rugby League CEO Greg Whaiapu said it was great to see a local player giving back to his community.
“For Brandon to do this and spend his free time helping the next generation of Auckland footy players, speaks volumes about the person he is,” Whaiapu said.
“It’s always special to meet your sporting heroes, and even better when they come from the same club you are playing at.
“We are very grateful for Brandon’s time and effort – he’s left a bunch of kids with an experience they will never forget.”
New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment finalists for 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards
Nine sporting highlights from 2018 have been shortlisted for New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment – the only category voted for by the public at the 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards. For info on how to vote and to be in to win a trip to the #56thISPSHandaHalbergAwards go to https://www.halbergawards.co.nz/favourite-sporting-moment/
Posted by ISPS Handa Halberg Awards on Monday, 14 January 2019
New Zealand's Favourite Sporting Moment finalists for 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards
Nine sporting highlights from 2018 have been shortlisted for New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment – the only category voted for by the public at the 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards. For info on how to vote and to be in to win a trip to the #56thISPSHandaHalbergAwards go to https://www.halbergawards.co.nz/favourite-sporting-moment/
Posted by ISPS Handa Halberg Awards on Monday, 14 January 2019
This is your chance to have your say on the sporting moment that excited you the most in 2018. The winner of the Favourite Sporting Moment of the Year will be announced at the 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards, televised live on SKY SPORT on Thursday 21 February 2019.
The full list of New Zealand’s Favourite Sporting Moment of the Year finalists are:
How to vote:
Voting is now open for the Sporting Moment of the Year award. You can vote once a day from now until 9.00pm on Thursday 21 February 2019, vote either online or by text.
Vote at www.sportingmoments.co.nz
Text your Sporting Moment’s unique code to 556 (standard txt charges apply):
Everyone who votes for the Sporting Moment by 4 February 2019 goes in the draw to win a trip for two including flights and accommodation to the 56th ISPS Handa Halberg Awards at Spark Arena, Auckland on Thursday 21 February 2019. Visit www.sportingmoments.co.nz to read the competition terms & conditions.
The Awards, held annually since 1963, are the brainchild of Olympic athletics champion Sir Murray Halberg (ONZ) to honour sporting excellence and as a major fundraiser for the Halberg Foundation – his charity which aims to enhance the lives of physically disabled young New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.
The core work of Halberg Foundation includes a team of Advisers around the country who connect physically disabled young people to sport and recreation opportunities. The Halberg Advisers also deliver an inclusion training course on adapting physical activity and assist clubs, schools and organisations to provide inclusive events and programmes. The Foundation also hosts the Halberg Games – an annual national three-day sports competition for physically disabled young people.
Here’s what went on behind the scenes in England when the Kiwis had free time…
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Honey Hireme reign supreme at the 2018 New Zealand Rugby League Annual Awards announced on Sky Sport’s Kiwi League Show tonight.
Waerea-Hargreaves (Kiwi #755) had one of his best seasons in the black and white jersey, accumulating over 130 run metres for all four end-of-season Test matches in England, and proved crucial in the Kiwis historic 26-24 win over Australia.
Michael Maguire says: “As a senior player within the Kiwis camp, Jared put a lot of time into discussing the growth of the Kiwi team. He has immense passion towards where he wants to see the black and white jersey and this is a real quality of his,”
“Off the back of his brilliant season in club land, he was in a good position to play his best footy for the Kiwis and that’s exactly what he did. His experience has been invaluable in mentoring younger players to step up into international rugby league,” Maguire says.
The powerhouse prop capped off his 2018 NRL season with his second NRL premiership win, a title he was able to share with Kiwis teammate Joseph Manu (finalist for Kiwis Rookie of the Year).
In one of the biggest years to date for women’s rugby league, Honey Hireme was hard to go past when it came to crowning the Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year, an award she won back in 2012. As co-captain of the Kiwi Ferns alongside veteran teammate Laura Mariu, she crossed the ditch to play for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership, an experience she says has benefitted her game.
“The addition of this year’s NRL competition was great for the women’s game. The fact that we could all come together in Kiwi Ferns camp following four weeks of competing in the elite space, was hugely beneficial when it came to pulling on the black and white jersey against the Jillaroos,”
“The more we can play at the top level, the better our game gets. I’m grateful for receiving this award but would also like to recognise the efforts of the other finalists (Kimiora Nati and Aieshaleigh Smalley) and our Kiwi Ferns teammates, my family for their undying support, management and coaching staff,” she says.
The Kiwis Rookie of the Year award was picked up by Kiwi #810 Ken Maumalo, a player who earnt his Kiwis call-up in June at Mile High Stadium before going on to play in all five 2018 Kiwis Test matches, scoring four tries. His impressive season with the Warriors and Kiwis attracted high praises from coach Michael Maguire and rightfully so, given he amassed 15 tackle breaks and 801 run metres over the three Tests he played against England.
“Both Ken and Jared are two players that are hungry for the Kiwis jersey to reach new heights and that’s pleasing,”
“It has been really enjoyable coaching Ken, the more he plays, the more he grows so I look forward to seeing what he does next year,” Maguire says.
Joining Maumalo in playing her first Test at international level, Onjeurlina Leiataua has been rewarded for her break out season with the Warriors women’s team, and the stellar part she played in the Kiwi Ferns narrow loss against the Jillaroos at Mt Smart Stadium this year. These achievements saw her pick up Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year.
Promising youngster, Isaiah Papali’i wins Junior Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, having been awarded Warriors Rookie of the Year and receiving his Kiwis debut in England after leading the Junior Kiwis in their match-up against the Junior Kangaroos in October.
This year’s award winners showcase players and match officials performing at the pinnacle of rugby league, as well as community representatives and volunteers who prove to be the backbone of grassroots rugby league in New Zealand.
New Zealand Rugby League wishes to congratulate the award winners from all 13 categories below:
Pirtek Female Volunteer – Karen Gibbons Karen Gibbons (Akarana, Auckland)
Pirtek Male Volunteer – Lawrence Erihe (Mid Central, Manawatu)
Grassroots Club of the Year – South Pacific Raiders (Southern, Otago)
Domestic Coach of the Year – Keith Hanley (Akarana, Auckland)
Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson (Upper Central, Bay of Plenty)
NZ 16s Player of the Year – Sione Moala (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
NZ 18s Player of the Year – Tyler Slade (NZ Warriors)
Domestic Premier Player of the Year – Francis Leger (Akarana, Auckland)
Kiwi Fern Rookie of the Year – Onjeurlina Leiataua (NZ Warriors)
Kiwis Rookie of the Year – Ken Maumalo (NZ Warriors)
Kiwis Fern Player of the Year – Honey Hireme (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Kiwis Player of the Year – Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters)
"My heart is black and white, it's always been like that." Quentin Pongia talks with us about his rugby league career #TeIwiKiwi 🇳🇿
Posted by New Zealand Kiwis on Sunday, 25 November 2018
"My heart is black and white, it's always been like that." Quentin Pongia talks with us about his rugby league career #TeIwiKiwi 🇳🇿
Posted by New Zealand Kiwis on Sunday, 25 November 2018
NZ Kiwis skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Kiwi #794) is up against NRL Premiership winning forward, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Kiwi #755) and Kiwi #771 Kevin Proctor for the 2018 Kiwis Player of the Year Award.
Finalists have been selected in all 13 NZRL Awards categories, including Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year which will be hotly contested by Kiwi Ferns co-captain Honey Hireme, NRL Grand-Final Player of the Match Kimiora Nati and powerhouse prop Aieshaleigh Smalley.
Kiwis debutants Joseph Manu, Ken Maumalo and Dally M Rookie of the Year, Jamayne Isaako will face-off for the Kiwis Rookie of the Year award – all three having had outstanding seasons with their respective clubs and thriving in their Kiwis career debut seasons.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck took home the top Kiwis award last year but the 2018 Dally M Award winner was out of contention for this year’s Kiwis end of season campaign in New Zealand and England due to injury.
Last year’s Junior Player of the Year, Isaiah Papali’i won the award as a 19-year-old and is still eligible this year following a stellar season with the Warriors and as captain of the Junior Kiwis. He faces challenges from the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Taranaki-born Mawene Hiroti, as well as Warriors youngster Joseph Vuna.
The Pirtek Volunteer of the Year awards also shine light on the incredible efforts of grassroots volunteers from around the country. These finalists have contributed to their clubs and communities in ways that are invaluable to the game of rugby league in New Zealand.
Award winners will be announced on 12 December on a special edition of Sky Sport’s Kiwi League Show at 7.30pm and NZRL’s website & social media channels.
Below is the full list of NZRL Awards finalists:
Kiwis Player of the Year 2018
Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year 2018
Kiwis Rookie of the Year 2018
Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year 2018
Junior Player of the Year 2018
Pirtek Female Volunteer of the Year 2018
Debbie Neylon-Kennedy (Southern, Canterbury)
Michelle Harding (Southern, Canterbury)
Hana Kakoi (Southern, Canterbury)
Denise Proctor (Northland, Nga Tama Toa)
Junie Shelford (Northland, Takahiwai)
Sariah Matautia (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Agnes Koti (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Karen Gibbons (Akarana, Auckland)
Rose Nahu (Upper Central, Bay of Plenty)
Ally Tamihere (Mid Central, Gisborne Tairawhiti)
Pirtek Male Volunteer of the Year 2018
David Field (Southern, Canterbury)
Tony Grenfell (Southern, Canterbury)
Chris Perriam (Southern, Southland)
Peter Kerridge (Southern, West Coast)
Josh Cleaver (Mid Central, Taranaki)
Lawrence Erihe (Mid Central, Manawatu)
Frank Proctor (Northland, Nga Tama Toa)
Nick Waihi (Northland, Marist Brothers)
Tim Tapaki (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Stephen Purcell (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Carl Gribble (Akarana, Auckland)
Grassroots Club of the Year 2018
Wairau Taniwha (Southern, Tasman)
Lonestar Cowboys (Southern, Southland)
South Pacific Raiders (Southern, Otago)
Rolleston Warriors (Southern, Canterbury)
Takahiwai Warriors (Northland)
Otahuhu Rugby League Club (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Manurewa Rugby League Football & Sports Club Inc (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Domestic Coach of the Year 2018
Rusty Matua (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Tusa Lafaele (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Keith Hanley (Akarana, Auckland)
Match Official of the Year 2018
Gary Smallridge (Southern, Canterbury)
Owen Harvey (Southern, Canterbury)
Chris McMillan (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Paki Parkinson (Upper Central, Bay of Plenty)
NZ 16s Player of the Year 2018
Sione Moala (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Quinnlan Tupou (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
Lani Graham-Taufa (Akarana, Auckland)
NZ 18s Player of the Year 2018
Kayal Iro (NZ Warriors)
Tyler Slade (NZ Warriors)
Mahuta Ngataki-Matthews (Upper Central, Waikato)
NZRL Premier Player of the Year 2018
Drew Radich (Counties Manukau, Auckland)
James Baxendale (Southern, Canterbury)
Francis Leger (Akarana, Auckland)
By Richard Becht, Vodafone Warriors
Auckland, New Zealand, November 28, 2018 – Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George today announced halfback Shaun Johnson has requested and been granted a release from the last year of his contract in 2019.
George said the release was effective immediately.
“Yesterday (head coach) Stephen Kearney, (recruitment manager) Peter O’Sullivan and I met with Shaun and his manager Peter Brown,” he said.
“During the meeting Shaun clearly demonstrated to us that he didn’t want to be at the club in 2019.
“While it’s disappointing it has come to this, we must acknowledge the contribution Shaun has made to the Vodafone Warriors. We’re proud of what he has achieved at the club and wish him the best for the future.”
Johnson finishes his Vodafone Warriors career with 917 points from 162 appearances.
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Every year NZRL recognises those who have gone above and beyond with awards for Volunteer of the Year and Grassroots Club plus awards for players, referees and coaches.
Complete your nomination form online to acknowledge someone you think has done an outstanding job for rugby league this year.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Apii Nicholls picked up the top two Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns awards last year, while 76-year-old Hornby Panthers legend, Jack Newson and Northland’s Chantez Connor were recognised for their stand-out voluntary contributions to rugby league. Who will be this year’s award winners?
Want to add your two cents? Submit your nominations by clicking here.
For all other information including awards criteria click here.
Nominations close 5pm Wednesday, 21 November, 2018.
By Alicia Newton, nrl.com
New Zealand have avoided a series whitewash in dominating fashion with a crushing 34-0 victory over England in the third and final Test at Elland Road in Leeds on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT).
Kodi Nikorima was everywhere for the Kiwis to help guide the side to an 18-0 lead at half-time and the one-way traffic continued into the second with the record-breaking crowd of 32,186 silenced for most of the contest.
Despite conceding the series in the second Test, the Kiwis’ attitude was on song from the opening set on Remembrance Day and with England having three disallowed tries, New Zealand’s lead never looked under threat.
The early onslaught started in the fourth minute with a late offload from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves putting pressure on England’s defence for Ken Maumalo to step inside Jake Connor and Jonny Lomax to the line.
England were denied the chance to hit back through Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson with John Bateman ruled to have obstructed Kevin Proctor in the lead-up.
New Zealand had a try of their own disallowed three minutes later with Jamayne Isaako getting a foot on the line in a try-scoring opportunity.
A third disallowed try – this time to England – continued the stop-start flow to the game but the Kiwis put an end to the disoriented period with Nikorima timing a pin-point pass for Isaac Liu to dive over next to the posts untouched.
The Kiwis’ dominance in the first half was sealed when Nikorima shrugged away from Chris Hill in the middle of the paddock to link with Shaun Johnson for an 18-point advantage at the break.
Any thoughts of a comeback were extinguished early by the Kiwis with Nikorima placing a cross-field kick for Maumalo to outleap Jermaine McGillvary for his second try of the afternoon.
England lost Jake Connor to a head knock in the process to compound a disappointing end to the series despite retaining the Baskerville Shield.
New Zealand’s ill-discipline has been a weakness under Michael Maguire this series and that notion continued despite the lop-sided result with Waerea-Hargreaves sin-binned in the second half for repeated offences.
England were next to be reduced to 12 with McGillvary binned for a professional foul and the Kiwis pounced with a further two tries.
Jesse Bromwich capped a solid return to the international game with a try under the sticks, before Joseph Tapine crashed over the line in near identical fashion.
Kiwis debutant Isaiah Papali’i got on the field in the 68th minute for an afternoon to remember with the Warriors forward converting Tapine’s try moments before the siren.
The crowd found their voices late in the game with the 2018 season coming to a close but the result ultimately put a halt to England’s recent run of success against the Kiwis.
Both sides were a part of a spine-tingling Remembrance Day service in the pre-game ceremony and came together linked arm-in-arm during the ode and minute silence to cap off a series that produced everything for the international game.
Nikorima was named man of the match while Makinson added the George Smith Medal for player of the series to his Golden Boot triumph.
Armistice Day commemorations are a poignant focus as the New Zealand Kiwis prepare for the third and final Test against England today.
Earlier this morning New Zealand Rugby League chairman Reon Edwards and CEO Greg Peters joined other Rugby League International Federation members and delegates at an Armistice Day service at the York Minster commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.
There will also be a strong focus on the 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day in the build-up to the third Test at Elland Road this afternoon.
Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire and England counterpart Wayne Bennett will lay a wreath during a pre-match commemoration while both teams will be wearing special jerseys bearing a poppy in recognition of the day.
The Rugby League International Federation Board has approved in principle a rolling calendar of matches for the next eight years. The calendar will see a mix of world events, regional events and bilateral tours starting in 2019. The meeting was held as a part of the RLIF Congress in York.
A highlight of the 2019 plan is the creation of the Oceania Cup featuring Australia, New Zealand and Tonga in one group and Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the other group. The nations also agreed that the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will visit the Southern Hemisphere to face New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea subject to consultation with the major playing leagues and the players’ representatives.
There are ongoing discussions to ensure that the programme for the women’s game and for wheelchair rugby league are advanced at a similar rate to the men’s game.
The Board has also approved financial support for the Americas Championship and a new competition for nations in the Middle East and Africa, the MEA Championship. RLIF investment will be annual, commencing in 2019, underlining the strategic significance of and recent growth in these territories.
Australia will host the inaugural RLIF Nines World Cup in 2019 which will see teams from across the world gather to compete in this innovative and exciting form of the game. This will feature both men’s and women’s competitions.
The programme will be punctuated every four years with the World Cup and will include the repeat of the Oceania Cup in 2020 and 2022 which will mirror the European Championship in the Northern Hemisphere. With space created for the bilateral arrangement of games and tours by the individual member nations.
Chief Executive Nigel Wood has welcomed the outcome saying:
“The whole international rugby league world has looked to us to complete this important piece of work. The discussions this week have been extremely collaborative and positive.
“This is a complex process and if we can put all the pieces of the jig-saw into place we will have a very exciting programme.”
“There is some further consultation to be undertaken with leagues and playing groups together with some important commercial evaluations before we could make final announcements, however we are confident that we can complete these discussions before Christmas.”
New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters said:
“We are delighted to have the support of the RLIF and member nations for a significant calendar of rugby league events in New Zealand. This will be the first time in the history of the sport that this number of international games has been hosted in New Zealand. We still have work to do, however, but we are very encouraged by the commitment of all parties to work towards making this a reality.”
Sandis Tsaka, President of Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League, said: “It’s a great boost for us in Papua New Guinea to have a reliable calendar of games that we can promote to our fans, players and stakeholders.”
Todd Greenberg, CEO of the Australian Rugby League Commission, welcomed the collaboration shown in the discussions: “It was refreshing to see the way in which we were all able to work together, particularly the Pacific nations, to deliver the framework for this calendar.”
Ralph Rimmer, CEO of the Rugby Football League, was pleased with the opportunities provided by the calendar: “These are exciting times for the sport in general and particularly the chance we have to both take a Great Britain team to the Southern Hemisphere next year and then welcome the Kangaroos in 2020. There is still some discussion to complete on 2019 but everything looks to be moving in a positive direction.”
RLIF Southern Hemisphere General Manager Jeremy Edwards said: “This programme will give us all a framework that we can work with. The Oceania Cup gives the Pacific nations the ideal platform to continue the immense progress that they have made over the past few years.”
Head coach Michael Maguire has confirmed 20-year-old back rower Isaiah Papali’i will debut for the Kiwis in the third Test against England at Elland Road in Leeds on Remembrance Day on Sunday (3.15pm kick-off local time; 4.15am Monday NZT).
After initially indicating he would name his final line-up an hour and a half before kick-off, Maguire has revealed Papali’i will become Kiwi No 817 coming off the interchange in the New Zealanders’ final outing of the year.
Named the Vodafone Warriors’ 2018 NRL Rookie of the Year, Papali’i captained the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos in Auckland last month. He comes onto a bench which also includes utility forward Kenny Bromwich, front rower Leeson Ah Mau and second rower Joseph Tapine. Tapine returns to the line-up after being used in the first Test in Hull while Marty Taupau and James Fisher-Harris make way.
The other change to the line-up sees Jamayne Isaako re-introduced on the right wing to replace the experienced Jordan Rapana, who has returned to Australia after being ruled out of the tour with a shoulder injury. Isaako, the Dally M NRL Rookie of the Year, will make his second Test appearance after his debut against England in Denver.
Maguire has included three players in his extended squad with Jahrome Hughes and Fisher-Harris joined by Vodafone Warriors utility back Gerard Beale, whose last Test was in the Kiwis’ opening match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup against Toa Samoa.
The 32-year-old Adam Blair will edge closer to becoming just the eighth player in history to play 50 or more Tests when he makes his 48th appearance on Sunday.
The build-up to the Test will centre on a Remembrance Day commemoration marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v ENGLAND
3.15pm, Sunday, November 11, 2018
Elland Road, Leeds
Referee: Gerard Sutton (Australia)
1 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Penrith Panthers) captain
2 KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)
3 ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)
4 JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)
5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)
6 SHAUN JOHNSON (Vodafone Warriors)
7 KODI NIKORIMA (Brisbane Broncos)
8 JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
9 BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)
10 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)
11 KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans)
12 ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)
13 ADAM BLAIR (Vodafone Warriors)
14 KENNY BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
15 LEESON AH MAU (St George Illawarra Dragons)
16 ISAIAH PAPALI’I (Vodafone Warriors)
17 JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
18 JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)
19 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
20 GERARD BEALE (Vodafone Warriors)
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | END OF SEASON CAMPAIGN
(includes first Test v England, KCOM Stadium, Hull)
Saturday, October 13 | v Australia, Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland | Won 26-24
Saturday, October 27 | v England, KCOM Stadium, Hull | Lost 16-18
Sunday, November 4 | v England, Anfield, Liverpool | Lost 14-20
Saturday, November 11 | v England, Elland Road, Leeds
Former Kiwi captain Ruben Wiki was among seven rugby league greats presented with golden caps at the Rugby League International Federation’s Golden Boot awards dinner in Leeds last night.
The presentation of golden caps for players who appeared in 50 or more Tests was a feature of the night which saw England winger Tommy Makinson win the men’s Golden Boot while Australian Jillaroos centre Isabelle Kelly was awarded the inaugural women’s Golden Boot.
When rugby league legend Wiki retired from international football in 2006, he had played a world record 55 Tests, a mark which stood until Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer (59) overtook him. Cameron Smith ended his representative career this year with a total of 56 Tests.
Wiki’s golden cap was collected on his behalf by his former Kiwi team-mate Motu Tony, who is in England with the touring New Zealand team.
Players awarded golden caps were:
Jim Sullivan (1921-1934) 54 internationals for Wales, England and Great Britain
Mick Sullivan (1954-1962) 50 internationals for England and Great Britain
Ruben Wiki (1994-2006) 55 internationals for New Zealand
Adrian Morley (1996-2012) 53 internationals for England and Great Britain
Darren Lockyer (1997-2011) 59 internationals for Australia
Petero Civoniceva (2001-2014) 51 internationals for Australia and Fiji
Cameron Smith (2006-2017) 56 internationals for Australia
As well as Tony, the Kiwis’ representatives at last night’s dinner included Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire, captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak – who was on the short list of four for the Golden Boot – former Kiwi Daryl Halligan, New Zealand Rugby League chairman Reon Edwards and CEO Greg Peters.
Watene-Zelezniak has had an outstanding year at international level, performing impressively against England in Denver, in the one-off Test against Australia last month and in each of the first two matches of the current series against England.
Kiwi Ferns centre Honey Hireme was on the short list for the women’s Golden Boot.
Three greats were inducted into England’s Rugby League Hall of Fame – Wakefield’s Derek Turner, Hull’s Johnny Whiteley and Andy Gregory, whose club career included stints with Widnes, Warrington and Wigan.
As well as Morley, Whiteley, Gregory the dinner at the Centerary Pavilion was attended by a cast of rugby league greats, among them the incomparable Billy Boston – now 84 – Garry Schofield, Mal Reilly and Neil Fox while there was also a table including former Great Britain internationals George Nicholls, Jimmy Thompson, Brian Lockwood, Alan Smith and Keith Bridges.
By Alicia Newton, nrl.com reporter on tour in England
England have fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half to score three tries and seal the series win with a 20-14 victory over the Kiwis in the second Test at Anfield on Sunday.
Tommy Makinson crossed for a hat-trick of tries in the dramatic win after the Kiwis jumped out to a 14-6 advantage midway through the second half.
Makinson broke the 14-14 deadlock with six minutes left on the clock with a sharp and weaving effort coming back inside the Kiwis’ ruck to charge over the line, using fingertip control to ground the ball, which was reviewed by the video referee.
Two errors midway through the second half swung the momentum for England with opposite Makinson’s second try and Jake Connor’s four-pointer ensuring the game was set up for a grandstand finish with a strong effort down the short side.
The Kiwis will rue their inability to score points in the opening half with the scores level at 6-6 at the break. The visitors had three disallowed tries and had a weight of possession and territory behind them.
The tone of the clash was set from the start as both teams came together in the early stages after Jesse Bromwich was penalised for a tackle on Sam Tomkins. enabling Connor to put England 2-0 ahead.
When the game eventually got into a groove, the Kiwis looked the strongest early to dominate in most areas but failed to convert enough opportunities into points after their first try.
The visitors made light work of England’s defence in the eighth minute with a back-line movement finished off by Watene-Zelezniak, who split Tomkins and Oliver Gildart on the left edge.
New Zealand went close to adding to their four-point advantage minutes later with Jordan Rapana denied twice through some desperate England defence.
England toiled and struck before the interval in similar fashion to last week’s clash in Hull with Makinson finishing off a slick cut-out pass from George Williams for his first of the afternoon.
Kiwi back rower Kevin Proctor was next to be denied by some brutal England defence as three disallowed tries failed to offer a true reflection of the dominance Michael Maguire’s side generated in the opening half.
The Kiwis skipped ahead with a converted try and penalty goal nine minutes into the second half.
Kodi Nikorima linked with Watene-Zelezniak to split the defence and send Ken Maumalo over in the corner, before an offside call on the line enabled the Kiwis an additional two points.
But England rallied, as they did in Hull with the Anfield crowd sniffing a comeback.
They went delirious as a Tomkins kick was fumbled in-goal but the Kiwis held their nerve to deny a charging Tom Burgess, who spilled the ball over the line.
Another error allowed England to level the scores with a short-side play from Canberra pair Hodgson and Whitehead sending Connor over in the corner.
The comeback was complete late, handing England a 2-0 series win and the Baskerville Shield.
Adam Blair will move to outright second on the Kiwis’ all-time appearances list when he starts at loose forward in today’s second Test against England at Anfield in Liverpool (2.30pm kick-off local time; 3.30am NZT).
After missing last week’s first Test through injury, the 32-year-old Vodafone Warriors forward comes into the starting side with James Fisher-Harris switched to the interchange bench.
Joseph Tapine, who replaced Blair in Hull, is 19th man.
This will be Blair’s 47th Test, moving him one ahead of Stacey Jones and Gary Freeman with only Ruben Wiki ahead on 55 Test appearances.
Other than Blair coming in for Fisher-Harris, the starting line-up is unchanged from the one used against the Kangaroos in Auckland on October 13 and in the first Test against England last week.
2.30pm, Sunday, November 4, 2018
5 JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)
16 MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
17 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
19 JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
Sunday, November 4 | v England, Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool, England, November 2, 2018 – Seasoned campaigner Adam Blair has been included in a 19-man New Zealand Kiwis squad for Sunday’s second Test against England at Anfield in Liverpool (2.30pm kick-off local time; 1.30am Monday NZT).
The 32-year-old was a late withdrawal for last Saturday’s first Test in Hull but head coach Michael Maguire has today confirmed Blair has fully recovered from a minor knee injury to be in contention this week.
Easily the most experienced player in the touring party, Blair is in line to make his 47th Test appearance.
Maguire has named the same 19 players originally selected for the opening encounter of the series. He will confirm his final 17 an hour and a half before kick-off.
“Adam has got through training well this week to put himself back in the frame for what is a critical match for us,” said Maguire.
“The players are all aware of the areas we need to improve in and they’ve put in the work this week to address where we need to be better.
“It’s also going to be a special experience playing at such a great stadium like Anfield, one we’re really looking forward to.”
This will be only the second rugby league international played at the Liverpool Football Club’s home.
The first was the 2016 Four Nations final between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis. The only survivors from that match named today are wing Jordan Rapana, halfback Shaun Johnson, props Jesse Bromwich and Blair, second rower Kevin Proctor and interchange forwards Martin Taupau and Joseph Tapine.
There have been four other rugby league matches played at Anfield previously, the first of them between Widnes and Wigan in 1989 followed by the 1991 World Club Challenge when Wigan faced Penrith.
The Kiwis’ preparation so far this week has centred on field sessions at Liverpool FC’s base at Melwood and the Wigan Warriors’ training centre in Orrell. They’ll have their first look at Anfield tomorrow when they have their final field session there.
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Penrith Panthers) captain
LEESON AH MAU (St George Illawarra Dragons)
KENNY BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)
SHAUN JOHNSON (Vodafone Warriors)
KODI NIKORIMA (Brisbane Broncos)
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
Saturday, October 27 | v England, KCOM Stadium, Hull
Unleash the spirit within.
The Maori Pou, indigenous people
The Pou that links all cultures.
The long-list for the Rugby League International Federation Golden Boot awarded to the players who have produced the most outstanding performances in international games throughout the year has been extended after the weekend’s games.
Five players have been added to the men’s list and one player to the women’s list.
England has supplied John Bateman, Tommy Makinson and Elliott Whitehead all of whom had stand-out games in the first test match against New Zealand.
In turn the panel has added Kiwi players, Shaun Johnson and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to the list which already includes Tonga’s Jason Taumololo and Sio Siua Taukeiaho and from Australia, Valentine Holmes, James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner.
Georgia Roche can celebrate her England debut plus a nomination for the prestigious BBC young sports personality of the year by adding a nomination to be the inaugural Women’s Golden Boot winner. She joins New Zealand star, Honey Hireme and Australians Isabelle Kelly, Ali Brigginshaw and Brittany Breayley.
The panel, drawn from the rugby league media in both hemispheres will meet again on Sunday November 4th to select the final short-lists
The RLIF Golden Boot 2018 will be awarded to the winners at a special dinner at Elland Road, Leeds on November 7th.
RLIF Men’s Golden Boot 2018 RLIF Women’s Golden Boot 2018
James Tedesco (Australia) Honey Hireme (New Zealand)
Boyd Cordner (Australia) Ali Brigginshaw (Australia)
Jason Taumalolo (Tonga) Brittany Breayley (Australia)
Valentine Holmes (Australia) Isabelle Kelly (Australia)
Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Tonga) Georgia Roche (England)
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (NZ)
Shaun Johnson (NZ)
John Bateman (England)
Tommy Makinson (England)
Elliott Whitehead (England)
Hull, England, October 27, 2018
Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire has today been given full backing by the New Zealand Rugby League following confirmation he is to return to NRL coaching with the Wests Tigers next season.
CEO Greg Peters said the NZRL had no issue with Maguire combining dual roles with the New Zealand Kiwis and the NRL side.
“We were aware when we appointed Michael that this was the likely outcome,” said Peters.
“He made it clear to us from the outset that he wanted to coach in the NRL again as well as coach the Kiwis. He wants to develop a winning culture that takes us to the World Cup.
“We congratulate Madge on his appointment. He knows we have confidence in him being able to continue his vital role with the Kiwis in the current series against England and in the years to come.”
England has taken a 1-0 lead in its Test series against New Zealand with a late try to Oliver Gildart sealing an 18-16 victory in Hull today.
Both sides struggled to control the game in frosty conditions but a late offload from Canberra-bound second rower John Bateman was enough for Gildart to race down the sideline and beat Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to the line with 12 minutes remaining.
The Kiwis will rue their discipline late in the contest after taking the lead twice through penalty goals. That came despite the visitors struggling with field position throughout the game.
Props Tom Burgess (139 metres from 12 runs) and James Graham (125 from 14) were among the best for England while Jesse Bromwich (191 from 17), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (135 from 15), Marty Taupau (135 from 13) and Leeson Ah Mau (124 from 11) led the way for the Kiwis in the middle of the park.
England was first on the board through Sam Tomkins, who finished off an attacking raid after Tommy Makinson got over the top of Jordan Rapana to collect a cross-field kick and keep the ball alive.
The Kiwis responded with a slick movement of their own to level the scores with Esan Marsters crossing after an inside pass from Shaun Johnson.
England winger Jermaine McGillvary then fumbled a ball midway through the first half, an error that enabled Kodi Nikorima to send Kiwi skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over from the resulting scrum.
But Watene-Zelezniak then became the villain on the stroke of halftime when England levelled the scores with Jake Connor awarded a penalty try as the Kiwi fullback came across in defence leading with his knees in a point-scoring opportunity.
Temperatures at KCOM Stadium dipped as both teams returned from the break but Johnson was full of running immediately to earn a penalty with a weaving run, the Kiwis taking the two points on offer for a 14-12 lead.
It took England three minutes to take a penalty goal of their own with back-to-back penalties leaving Kiwi coach Michael Maguire fuming at his side’s ill-discipline.
The Kiwis went back in front with another Johnson penalty but Gildart’s try with 12 minutes remaining turned out to be the match-winner despite a last-minute surge from the visitors.
Both sides travel to Liverpool on Sunday ahead of their next clash at Anfield on November 4.
Canberra second rower Joseph Tapine has been brought onto the bench to replace Vodafone Warriors forward Adam Blair for the Kiwis’ first Test against England at Hull’s KCOM Stadium (2.30pm kick-off local time).
The 46-Test veteran Blair took a knock to his right knee in a training session in Wigan on Wednesday.
He ran extensively at training yesterday but head coach Michael Maguire has decided to leave him out this week, bringing in Tapine for his ninth Test.
Tapine’s place in the 19-man squad has been taken by Vodafone Warriors utility Peta Hiku.
2.30pm, Saturday, October 27, 2018
KC Stadium, Hull
13 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)
21 PETA HIKU (Vodafone Warriors)
Test series successes in England have been rare for New Zealand in the 110-year history of hostilities against the home side.
Since the first in 1908 between the All Golds and the Northern Union – which the All Golds won 2-1 – New Zealand sides have won three of the 16 three-match series played.
The other two triumphs were the 2-1 victory achieved by the Roy Christian-captained Kiwis in 1971 (the first series win by an official New Zealand team) and a 2-0 outcome – with the third Test drawn – for the Quentin Pongia-led 1998 side.
There have also been three drawn series in 1980, 1985 and 2002.
SERIES AGAINST GREAT BRITAIN/ENGLAND IN UNITED KINGDOM
1908 | Won 2-1 (All Golds)
Leeds Lost 6-14
Chelsea Won 18-6
Cheltenham Won 8-5
1926 | Lost 0-3
Wigan Lost 20-28
Hull Lost 11-21
Leeds Lost 17-32
1947 | Lost 1-2
Leeds Lost 10-11
Swinton Won 10-7
Bradford Lost 9-25
1951 | Lost 0-3
Bradford Lost 15-21
Swinton Lost 19-20
Leeds Lost 12-16
1955 | Lost 1-2
Swinton Lost 6-25
Bradford Lost 12-27
Leeds Won 28-13
1961 | Lost 1-2
Leeds Won 29-11
Bradford Lost 10-23
Swinton Lost 19-35
1965 | Lost 0-2
Swinton Lost 2-7
Bradford Lost 9-15
Wigan Drew 9-9
1971 | Won 2-1
Salford Won 18-13
Castleford Won 17-14
Leeds Lost 3-12
1980 | Drew 1-1
Wigan Drew 14-14
Bradford Won 12-8
Leeds Lost 2-10
1985 | Drew 1-1
Leeds Won 24-22
Wigan Lost 8-25
Leeds Drew 6-6
1989 | Lost 1-2
Manchester Won 24-16
Leeds Lost 6-26
Wigan Lost 6-10
1993 | Lost 0-3
Wembley Lost 0-17
Wigan Lost 12-29
Leeds Lost 10-29
1998 | Won 2-0
Huddersfield Won 22-16
Bolton Won 36-16
Watford Drew 23-23
2002 | Drew 1-1
Blackburn Won 30-16
Huddersfield Drew 14-14
2007 | Lost 0-3
Huddersfield Lost 10-20
Hull Lost 0-44
Wigan Lost 22-28
2015 | Lost 1-2
Hull Lost 12-26
London Won 9-2
Wigan Lost 14-20
Other internationals against Great Britain/England in England
1960 World Cup
Bradford Lost 8-23
1970 World Cup
Swinton Lost 17-27
1975 World Cup
Bradford Lost 12-27
2000 World Cup
Bolton Won 49-6
2004 Tri Nations
Huddersfield Lost 12-22
Hull Lost 24-26
2005 International (friendly)
Warrington Won 30-22
2005 Tri Nations
London Won 42-26
Huddersfield Lost 12-38
St Helens Lost 14-46
2009 Four Nations
Huddersfield Lost 12-20
2011 Four Nations
Hull Lost 6-28
2013 World Cup
Wembley Won 20-18
2016 Four Nations
Huddersfield Won 17-16
Head coach Michael Maguire has retained the same 17 players used in the win over the Kangaroos for the Kiwis’ first Test against England at Hull’s KC Stadium on Saturday (2.30pm kick-off local time).
The only change is on the extended bench where Canberra second rower Joseph Tapine is included as 19th man with Melbourne utility back Jahrome Hughes 18th man.
Maguire said the players had earned the right to line up in the opening match of the series, New Zealand’s 17th three-Test campaign on United Kingdom soil since the pioneering All Golds played the first in 1908.
The second Test will be played at Anfield in Liverpool on Sunday, November 4, followed by the third at Elland Road in Leeds on Saturday, November 10.
Maguire said the Kiwis needed to reset for the opening international in Hull.
“What we achieved in New Zealand against the Kangaroos was a start and the players recognise it was just that, a start,” he said.
“Our focus since leaving New Zealand has been fixed on this first Test. We have a group of players here who are exceptionally passionate about playing for the jersey. I’ve seen that. There are great signs for where we’re going but we need to make sure we do everything right this week.”
Hooker Brandon Smith and centre Joseph Manu will both play their second Test after they each impressed in the Kiwis’ superb 26-24 win over Australia at Mount Smart Stadium on October 13.
Left centre Esan Marsters and his wing partner Ken Maumalo will be lining up for the Kiwis for third time as will interchange prop Leeson Ah Mau while another seven players in the 19-man squad also have fewer than 10 Tests to their name.
The New Zealanders travelled to Brigg on the outskirts of Hull this afternoon ahead of their final training run at the Test venue tomorrow. Based in Manchester since arriving from a stopover in Dubai, the Kiwis have trained at the Wigan Warriors’ high performance training centre in Orrell and also had a session at the Manchester City Football Club’s exceptional academy facility on Monday.
17 ADAM BLAIR (Vodafone Warriors)