24 October 2023A new Kiwi Ferns line-up has been confirmed for Saturday’s Jillaroos clash, and if there’s one word on everyone’s mind, it’s ‘redemption’.
Kiwi Ferns wing, Shanice Parker is no stranger to coming up against the Jillaroos. Although not making it to the grand final due to injury, she was in last year’s squad who suffered a defeat to Australia in the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup.
It’s that determination to rewrite history that is fueling this new team on, together with a desire to make Wairoa’s Amelia Pasikala proud, following Saturday’s leg injury that cut short her debut tour in the black and white jersey.
“We definitely want to unleash the beast like Ama would on the field. Once she got injured, the girls were saying ‘this is for Ama’ so we are doing this one for her as well,” says Shanice.
Shanice says the team has only continued to get better with each week and game, with Saturday’s match in Melbourne the clincher.
“We’ve had a steady rise and we’ve really connected as a team these past two weeks, so hopefully we can finish on a high against the Jillaroos,” says Shanice.
Head coach Ricky Henry says it has been his toughest selection process yet.
“Those named have consistently proven themselves on-field over the past two weeks. Their naming today is a reward for showing up and giving every training and game their absolute all,” he says.
With the loss of Amelia Pasikala, Henry has been forced to rethink the Kiwi Ferns bench and cover.
Veteran Apii Nicholls returns to fullback, while forward Laishon Albert-Jones is named among inter-change.
Shanice Parker of the Newcastle Knights returns to the wing, alongside Wests Tigers’ Leianne Tufuga.
Mele Hufanga remains at center, following her naming as player of the match against Tonga at Eden Park. Abigail Roache maintains her center position, off the back of her hat-trick on Saturday.
The Kiwi Ferns narrowly lost 16-10 to the Jillaroos in their first encounter with the team on October 14.
Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns kick-off Saturday 28 October 6pm at AAMI Stadium, Melbourne.2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Team List:
October 19, 2023
Kalani Going has become the second Northlander in a week to be named to lead a national team after being chosen as captain of the New Zealand Kiwis A side to face Mate Ma’a Tonga A at Eden Park on Saturday.
The 26-year-old follows in the footsteps of Kohukohu-raised James Fisher-Harris who was unveiled on Sunday as the Kiwis’ new captain for their Pacific Championships campaign starting against Toa Samoa on Saturday.
The proud Northlanders were both opponents and teammates in their younger years when Going was at Kamo High School and Fisher-Harris attended Whangarei Boys’ High School.
This week they have been brought together as brothers in arms alongside 35 other players in a camp that’s the first of its kind in New Zealand rugby league history.
For Going the appointment as captain adds another layer to an extraordinary past 12 months.
It has seen him go from mliking cows on the family farm to making his NRL debut with the One New Zealand Warriors, selection in the New Zealand Kiwis A squad and now the captain’s job as well.
A standout as his club’s captain in the New South Wales Cup, he finished the season by being named the One New Zealand Warriors’ NSW Cup Player of the Year and also made the NSW Cup Team of the Year.
Going will lead a Kiwis A side which boasts players with solid NRL experience and a host of the country’s most promising prospects.
He has been named at loose forward in a pack which includes Canberra’s former Kiwi hooker Danny Levi and Māori All Stars front rowers Pasami Saulo (Canberra) and Wiremu Greig (Parramatta). Halfback Zach Dockar-Clay (Sydney Roosters) and utility Asu Kepoaa also bank significant experience.
Named in the centres are 2019 Kiwi World Nines representative Bailey Simonsson (Parramatta) and Rocco Berry (One New Zealand Warriors), who has just come off his best NRL season so far; their fathers are both former All Blacks (Paul Simonsson and Marty Berry).
The side is packed with NRL rookies.
Apart from Going, winger and former All Black Sevens player Will Warbrick established himself in his debut season with Melbourne while others to make their maiden appearances this year have been fullback Keano Kini (Gold Coast), winger Ali Leiataua (One New Zealand Warriors), standoff Taine Tuaupiki (One New Zealand Warriors), second rower Jack Howarth (Melbourne) and bench forwards Paul Roache (One New Zealand Warriors) and Jack Chan (Melbourne). Canberra’s Trey Mooney, listed as 18th man, is also a rookie, his debut last year being his sole appearance before had added four games this season.
Second rower Jacob Laban (One New Zealand Warriors) is yet to make his first-grade debut as is giant bench forward Benjamin Te Kura (Brisbane) and 19th man Tanner Stowers-Smith (One New Zealand Warriors).
NZ KIWIS A v MATE MA’A TONGA A
EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND
1.30PM, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2023
17 October 2023
Debuting for the Kiwi Ferns on home soil is a pinch-me moment for the newest stars of the game named in this week’s line-up.
A new-look team has been named to take on Mate Ma’a Tonga Women in Saturday’s triple header at Eden Park as part of the Pacific Championships.
Taranaki’s Tiana Davison is among the new faces named in the team.
“It’s very surreal and to do it at home in front of family and friends is even more surreal. I think there will be a few tears shed,” she says.
Tiana, who made the switch from rugby union to league in 2022, and helped the Newcastle Knights win the grand final of the 2023 NRLW grand final, once had her sights set on making the Black Ferns.
This Saturday she will don the black and white jersey in front of friends and family, who will travel from her small hometown of Waitara to watch her take the field for the first time as a Kiwi Fern.
“Following my time with the Knights this year, I knew if I worked hard and kept my head down my time would come and thankfully for me it did come,” says the 22 year-old.
Tiana says her goal is to show the next generation in her hometown that there is a pathway into elite sport if you put your mind to it.
Making her first appearance in the Pacific Championships alongside Tiana is Abigail Roache, also of the Newcastle Knights.
“My family all managed to come to the NRLW grand final, so it’s going to be really special to play in front of them at home. I’m hoping my grandparents will make it,” says Abigail.
Off the back of a narrow 16-10 loss to the Australian Jillaroos on Saturday in Townsville, head coach Ricky Henry has made some changes to the previous line-up.
“It’s been a really tough selection process where we are leaving out some top players but it shows our depth as we build towards the 2026 World Cup,” says Ricky.
Hot off the back of an NRLW season with the Canberra Raiders also making her debut is Cheyelle Robins-Reti. Having been cleared to play, following an eye injury late in the NRLW season, Cheyelle will be stepping on to the wing.
Brisbane Broncos centre Mele Hufanga caught the attention of many with her try against the Jillaroos in the Kiwi Ferns’ first match of the Pacific Championships. Leading from the front, Mele says she is so proud of how far the debutants have come in the space of a short time.
“These young guns are really talented and they really showed up on Saturday against the Jillaroos.”
Asked what she’s expecting this weekend, Mele says she expects the Tongan players to come for her.
“I’m just focusing on doing better and being better,” she says.
Mate Ma’a Tonga Women v Kiwi Ferns kick-off Saturday 21 October 3.45pm (NZT).
2023 Kiwi Ferns Pacific Championship Team List:
October 15, 2023
Penrith’s three-times NRL premiership-winning prop James Fisher-Harris has been named to lead the New Zealand Kiwis in their Pacific Championships campaign.
The 27-year-old Northlander’s captaincy appointment was announced last night as the Kiwis and the New Zealand Kiwis A squads assembled in Auckland ahead of the Labour Weekend triple-header at Eden Park next Saturday.
The Kiwis take on Toa Samoa while the New Zealand A side will face Mate Ma’a Tonga A on a day when the Kiwis Ferns meet Mate Ma’a Tonga.
Fisher-Harris takes over the captaincy from veteran Kiwi Jesse Bromwich who has called time on his international career.
The 37 players selected for the two New Zealand teams gathered with staff and an array of Kiwi greats for last night’s announcement.
Ruben Wiki, Tawera Nikau, Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney, Adam Blair and Nathan Cayless all spoke passionately about what the Kiwi jersey meant to them.
“It’s such a privilege and honour to be named to lead my country,” said Fisher-Harris.
“I’m proud to represent my family and the people from where I’m from (in Northland). It’ll be a special moment leading my teammates out against Toa Samoa at Eden Park.”
It won’t be Fisher-Harris’ first experience leading the Kiwis having filled the role for Bromwich in last year’s Rugby League World Cup clash against Jamaica in Hull.
“James has grown into a wonderful leader during my time with the Kiwis,” said Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.
“He was a natural choice to become captain for this campaign. He’s so respected by all our players and staff alike, very much a leader whose actions do the talking.”
Fisher-Harris leads a Kiwi squad which includes 12 players who lined up in the 14-16 semi-final loss to the Kangaroos at the Rugby League World Cup last November.
Born: January 5, 1996
Birthplace: Rawene, NZ
Position: Second Row/Prop/Loose Forward
Junior Club: Marist Brothers (Whangarei)
Other NRL Clubs: Nil
Kiwi Number: 801
Kiwi Test Debut: v Scotland, Workington, 2016
Tests: 12 for Kiwis (2016-2019)
Test Points: 4 (1 try)
NRL Games: 180 (2016-2023)
NRL Points: 48 (12 tries)
01 October 2023
The Auckland Vulcans and Counties Manukau Stingrays battled it out for the NZRL National Premiership title at Pukekohes’ Navigation Homes this Sunday afternoon.
However, it was the Vulcans that steamrolled the first forty minutes with nine consecutive tries in a clinical attacking display that never wavered.
The Vulcans scored five quick tries in the first 15 minutes of the half through co-captain Francis Leger, Levi Atiga, Samuel Desmond and other co-captain Simone Feao, who earned a double.
The Counties’ defence struggled to keep up with the Vulcans attacking momentum. Fullback Sefanaia Cowley-Lupo went over for Auckland’s fifth with consecutive tries shortly after to Freedom Vahaakolo and Patrick Sipley.
With a 38-0 score line in the 30th minute, Counties finally found possession. However, a lost ball over the try line saw points go begging. The Vulcans answered back quickly with a try to centre Fiohiva Faingaa, making it 44-0 at the break, a tough hill to climb for the depleted Stingrays.
The Vulcans opened the second half with a try to Levi Atiga, but the Stingrays’ second-rower, Ngarima Pita, finally put Counties on the board through a barging run up the middle, making it 50-6.
Vulcans co-captain Sione Feao answered back quickly with his hattrick as the Auckland dominance continued. Further tries to Sam Ngati, Makaia Tafua and a fourth to Sione Feao sealed the win 70-6.
The Auckland Vulcans were crowned NZRL National Premiers in a clinical 14-try display over Counties Manukau.
The 2023 Dally M Awards at Sydney’s Royal Randwick racecourse saw several Kiwi men and women take home some of the most prestigious awards at the NRL level.
The NRL and NRLW Dally M Teams of the Year recognises the best player in each position across all regular season rounds. Judges regularly vote on the best player in each position throughout the year, with a further vote conducted at the end of the regular season.
Significant changes to the Dally M voting process for both the NRL and NRLW competitions were introduced for the 2023 season. This season, two independent judges each gave out votes on a 3,2,1 basis for every game, meaning players could earn a maximum of six votes per game compared to three in previous years. The decision to add a second judge to assess each game in 2023 will increase the final total of points to players, but also the level of fairness in further removing potential variances arising from a single judge voting on a game.
First-class wingers Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Jamayne Isaako were named Wingers of the Year, with Jamayne also the NRL’s top point scorer this season. Watene-Zelezniak achieved the New Zealand Warriors club record for most tries in a season, while fellow teammate Shaun Johnson rightfully earned Halfback of the Year. Johnson had an outstanding comeback season that helped his side reach the NRL Preliminary Final for the first time in 12 years. He was only beaten by 1 point to narrowly miss out on the prestigious Dally M Medal.
Having only made their NRLW debuts at the beginning of the season, Mele Hufanga and Annessa Biddle took home the Centre and Rookie of the Year awards after consistently outstanding performances week in and week out. Hufanga starred for the semi-finalist Brisbane Broncos after debuting for the Kiwi Ferns at the 2022 Rugby League World Cup. The 21-year-old Biddle also finished second in the competition for post-contact metres (620). “What a season it’s been for me and I’m just so honoured and privileged to receive this award especially with the amount of outstanding rookies there were,” Biddle said.
Winger of the Year – Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (New Zealand Warriors, Kiwi #794), Jamayne Isaako (Redcliffe Dolphins, Kiwi #808)
Halfback of the Year – Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors, Kiwi #774)
Centre of the Year – Mele Hufanga (Brisbane Broncos, Kiwi Fern #166)
Rookie of the Year – Annessa Biddle (Cronulla Sharks)
For the full Team of the Year lists see here: NRL, NRLW
September 25, 2023
NZRL is looking for a skilled and driven Videographer to capture the thrilling gameplay and moments for the NZRL 16s and 18s boys’ rugby league teams. As the videographer, you will be responsible for documenting and showcasing our team’s performance and achievements during matches, training sessions and throughout camp.
· Record selected highlights for both the 16s and 18s boys’ teams during trainings, matches, and key moments throughout camp.
· Edit and compile video footage to create videos for social media.
· Ensure videos are of high quality and meet the desired standards.
· Edit and add graphics, overlays, and music to enhance video quality and engage viewers effectively.
· Work closely with communications and marketing team to understand specific video requirements and deliver tailored content.
· Own your own creative equipment e.g. Camera, microphone etc
· Proficiency in video recording equipment and video editing software (e.g., Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro).
· A creative and artistic eye for video production.
· Ability to work flexible hours, to accommodate team schedules.
· Familiarity with sports videography equipment and technology trends is a plus.
How to apply
Interested candidates should submit their resume and a portfolio or examples of previous work.
Express your interest by Friday 6th October
Please send applications to: email@example.com
July 12, 2023
Canterbury Rugby League’s newly established partnership with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs is set to provide players and coaches from the region with unprecedented development opportunities and pathways to progress to Australia’s elite age-group and senior men’s and women’s competitions.
Rubberstamped in recent weeks, the agreement between the two organisations promises to be an invaluable and mutually beneficial initiative.
CRL’s ongoing responsibility to player and coach development, combined with the Bulldogs’ commitment to provide support for local coaches – which in turn helps players’ ability to improve – and training camp opportunities for promising players, will potentially lead to positions with the Sydney-based club.
“This is a substantial development for Canterbury Rugby League,” CRL CEO Malcolm Humm says.
“As part of our 2023-26 Strategic Plan, a key goal is that ‘pathway opportunities are fostered through strategic partnerships’. We believe this agreement with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs is going to have a significant impact on the development of players and coaches in Canterbury, as well as the wider South Island region.
“To have access to the knowledge and experience of such a quality and successful club such as the Bulldogs is both exciting and one hell of a privilege.”
Ultimately, Canterbury Rugby League’s aim is to support players that have been identified by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to transition to an Australian competition, whether it be their Harold Matthews Cup (under-17s), SG Ball Cup (under-19s), Jersey Flegg (under-21s) and Tarsha Gale Cup (women’s under-18s) teams, or their Harvey Norman Women’s, NSW Cup, NRL and future NRLW premiership squads.
As well as winning eight premierships since joining the competition in 1935, Canterbury-Bankstown has an impressive reputation as a development club. The Bulldogs have won six NSW Cup titles since 1998 and were grand finalists in 2022, boast a record nine Jersey Flegg Cup titles, won the 2023 Harold Matthews Cup, reached the 2023 Tarsha Gale Cup and Harvey Norman Women’s grand finals and have their sights set on entering an NRLW team for the first time in 2025.
“Although some of the detail is still to be worked through, we have agreed that Canterbury-based coaches and players will be recipients of coaching clinics led by Bulldogs coaching personnel, whilst both entities want to ensure that identified players and coaches from the Canterbury region have the opportunity to be immersed within the club’s environment in camp scenarios,” Humm explains.
“There are numerous ways in which we can benefit each other, and we are just excited to get to this point and commence the operational plan.”
Canterbury Rugby League harbours strong links with the Bulldogs stretching back more than half a century. Linwood, Canterbury and New Zealand Test prop Bill Noonan famously became the first major signing made by legendary Canterbury-Bankstown secretary Peter ‘Bullfrog’ Moore in 1970.
Noonan was the first Kiwi (along with teammate Henry Tatana) to feature in a NSWRL premiership grand final – Canterbury-Bankstown’s loss to Eastern Suburbs in the 1974 decider – and played 161 games in the blue-and-white jersey before linking with Newtown in 1979.
Hornby Kiwi Marty Crequer turned out for the Bulldogs in 1991, while elusive winger Jason Williams played in the 1994-95 grand finals – winning a premiership medal in the latter year – during a 73-game tenure with the club. More recently, former Hornby junior Fa’amanu Brown is currently enjoying his second NRL stint with the Bulldogs (he was also part of their NSW Cup-winning side in 2018), Halswell product Montel Lisala has played for their Jersey Flegg and Ron Massey Cup sides in 2023, and Northern’s Bronson Reuben and Hornby’s Sosaia Alatini starred in the Bulldogs’ recent Harold Matthews Cup title success in a team that was coached by former Halswell stalwart Shannon Rushworth.
“The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs has long been known as a development club,” said Bulldogs General Manager of Pathways, Adam Hartigan.
“We are committed to investing time into coach and player development through our growing satellite Academy programs – and partnerships such as this new venture with Canterbury Rugby League can only further benefit the game. We are extremely proud to be able to offer our support to the region.
“CRL has a strong track record of development and by partnering together, we feel we can provide even more young talent with the skills and resources they need to unlock their potential, and flourish both on and off the field.”
Linwood’s Chelden Hayward, a member of the Canterbury 18s team that competed in the recent South Island Boys Youth Tournament, is already benefiting from the Bulldogs’ pathways program while being able to remain in the region.
“Importantly, kids can be afforded the opportunity to develop their talent without needing to be relocated at an early age, and away from their home, schooling life and families,” Hartigan explains.
“Rather, this partnership will support coach development so that Canterbury junior league players can access premier coaching and programs at home, whilst still being afforded a clear and visible pathway to the NRL or NRLW.
“Chelden Hayward is a great example of how this pathway model works. With the upskilling of CRL coaches Chelden can stay at home, complete his schooling, and mature before the need to move Australia.”
26 June, 2023
Following today’s New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) annual general meeting, two new Directors were welcomed onto the NZRL Board, Tania Te Whenua and Ian Olán.
Te Whenua has supported rugby league at a local and regional level for over 30 years. Her impressive credentials as a chartered governance professional and as the principal of her law and consulting firm make her a valuable addition.
Tania has developed a comprehensive understanding of governance principles as she serves on the Civil Advisory Board to the Director General of the World Trade Organisation and the Governance NZ Women on Boards.
Having served on the Board of Counties Manukau Rugby League for nine years, Ian Olán possesses a deep understanding of the game at both a community and governance level.
NZRL Chair Hugh Martyn says, “Tania’s strong networks both within sport and recreation and more broadly within the public, community and private sectors make her a valuable addition. As does Ian’s extensive background in governance, finance, strategy, and stakeholder management.
“Both bring a wealth of skills and expertise, and we are excited to welcome them to the NZRL whanau.”
NZRL would like to thank and farewell two departing Directors, Jeni Pearce and Kiwi #614 Tawera Nikau.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank Jeni Pearce for her contribution to New Zealand Rugby League and congratulate Tawera on serving two full terms,” said Martyn.
“Jeni was a valuable board member and never hesitated to assist at grassroots events and tournaments. We are sad to see her go and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
“Tawera has long been a servant of the game, and we are extremely grateful for the value and insight he brought over the course of his two terms. His dedication will undoubtedly continue; however, as a rugby league great and invaluable board member, he will be sorely missed.” concluded Martyn.
The NZRL Board is Hugh Martyn (Chair), Howie Tamati (President), Justin Leydesdorff (Deputy Chair), Natasha Tere, John Devonshire, Honey Hireme-Smiler, Grant Stapleton, Tania Te Whenua, and Ian Olán.
Congratulations to the following who received Life Member and Distinguished Services Awards at the 2023 NZRL AGM.
Christine Rewa Panapa – Life Member
Christine Panapa has been instrumental in the women’s game here in NZ, having served as the first NZ Women’s Rugby League president and assisted in forming the first Kiwi Ferns team in 1994.
During a time when women sports received little to no funding, Panapa raised funds through raffles to support the Kiwi Ferns with both their national and international tournaments. Panapa recalls that it was a battle she wanted to fight for the girls and their fabulous display of rugby league, which many people didn’t want to support at the time.
Although most quickly think that the Australian Jillaroos have set the benchmark in women’s rugby league, many tend to forget that the Kiwi Ferns dominated the rugby league world throughout their history, which can be credited to the groundwork and dedication that Panapa put in over the years.
Christine Panapa and her vision over an 18-year period have helped lead the Kiwi Ferns to success, achieve monumental feats and forge a path for wahine in rugby league.
William McEntee (Bill) – Life Member
William McEntee, known to many as Bill, has been one of Counties Manukau rugby league’s longest servants, dating back to 1979. McEntee played a pivotal role in organising and managing countless Counties Manukau representative teams, having a cup named after him – the McEntee Cup, played for between Counties Manukau and Waikato representative teams in annual fixtures.
Bill’s passion for the game extends far beyond Counties Manukau, having served on the NZRL Board twice, ensuring that the grassroots game was nurtured and continually developed in the modern-day era of professional sport. Although Bill is officially retired, he continues to serve as the Counties Manukau Zone Chair, is on the NZ Masters of Rugby League Board and is still seen supporting and assisting at clubs on most weekends.
Emile Va’afusuaga – Distinguished Service Award
Having started his rugby league journey in 1968, Emile Va’afusuaga has been involved with four clubs, Papatoetoe Panthers, Mangere East Hawks, Otahuhu Leopards and the Howick Hornets as a player and coach.
Va’afusuaga was appointed to the foundation Board of Counties Manukau Rugby League in 2009 and served until 2016. He joined the CMRL Board as he recognised an opportunity for Counties to become autonomous with rugby league and serve the growing needs of the Māori and Pasifika communities.
He identified that rugby league could help expand education and connect people with learning institutes and careers that best fit individual skill sets. As a MOE Cluster Manager, Va’afusuaga introduced a programme called ‘Leadership through Rugby League’, which was used as a method to identify the learning needs of students, particularly troubled children and how rugby league could be used as a pathway to engage young people and their parents. The programme would provide strategies to shift anti-social behaviours to more productive contributors to learning, in turn creating better rugby league players and better people.
Alongside his outstanding work in schools, Va’afusuaga was instrumental in promoting ‘Playgroups’ in clubs and was a strong advocate of early learning for children and parents. This initiative saw playgroups set up in seven Counties Manukau clubs in which NZRL would adopt the initiative to roll out nationally.
John Gardiner – Distinguished Service Award
John Gardiner’s rugby league journey began at Taranaki Rugby League, where he was one of the most renowned front rowers for an astounding 20 years.
After his playing days, Gardiner would serve the game as a referee, where he would referee premier and provincial football for ten years in and around Taranaki, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, and Manawatu. In addition, Gardiner was responsible for starting the first Taranaki Rugby League Referees’ Association whilst also being on the NZRL Referee’s Directorate for ten years as an assessor.
Gardiner’s service to the game would extend beyond refereeing, becoming a director for the Mid Central Zone board for five years and acting as the Chairperson for the final three years of his tenure from 2019-2022. During his tenure as the Chair of Mid Central Zone, Gardiner was instrumental in overseeing changes made to the local district constitutions that promised the district boards support through district administrators funded and managed by the zone.
As a result, the Mid Central Zones districts, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay, have reaped the benefits of revamped constitutions where the clubs have nominated representatives on each district board.
John Gardiner has been a long servant of the game, paving the way and working towards what is best for rugby league in NZ. His efforts and forward-thinking have put the game in a better place.
Wi Kapua – Distinguished Service Award
Wi Kapua has been a long-serving Wellington Rugby League community member for over 40 years, with his efforts being recognised by having a competition and cup named after him. Kapua’s rugby league journey started at Randwick Rugby League, where he was a player from 1980-1986; he would later become a Wellington School Boys coach from 1988-1993. Kapua is a faithful servant of the game, and it is evident through the life memberships that he has gained from WRL, WRL Schoolboys and Wellington Referees Association.
Bruce Milne – Distinguished Service Award
Bruce Milne commenced his association with rugby league in 1970, playing 11 years at Linwood Rugby League club. The following year after hanging up the boots, Milne transitioned from player to coach. He would go on to coach his Linwood football club before earning a provincial coaching role with the Canterbury Bulls at a development level, helping nurture upcoming South Island talent. He also coached the Canterbury Universities side that would go on to win numerous national titles.
After his coaching career, Milne expanded his resume to managing the Canterbury Bulls for 14 seasons. During his tenure as a manager, Milne enjoyed success, winning two Bartercard Cups and a Universities World Cup title. Additionally, Milne served on the Canterbury Masters Board as the Chairman for 21 years. Milne’s service to the game spans an impressive period, and he has been instrumental in the development of Canterbury Rugby League as we know it today. He continues to be involved in the game and shows no sign of stopping his service to rugby league.
As seen on nrl.com
As Jarrod Croker experiences the rush of emotions that accompany the opening whistle of an NRL match for the 300th time on Friday, that special feeling will be completely new for the player lining up opposite him.
The Raiders captain becomes just the second specialist centre after Josh Morris to reach a triple century of games. On the other hand, Warriors rookie Ali Leiataua will become the 39th player to debut in 2023.
It’s going to be a huge night in Canberra and the type of occasion that might be too much for some rookies, but in Leiataua’s case he’s already shown he can handle far more challenging events on a rugby league field.
Back in March of 2021 during a national U-20 game against Auckland in Christchurch, South Island player Christian Pese collapsed after suffering a stroke in the closing minutes.
Aged just 18 at the time, Leiataua – who despite lining up opposite him that day was close friends with Pese from their time together at King’s College in Auckland – was the first person to respond and sat with his mate while medical staff attended to him on the field.
The seriousness of Pese’s condition quickly became clear and he was later placed into a medically induced coma, before undergoing a complex procedure to relieve swelling from his brain, which at the time doctors weren’t sure he would survive.
After the rest of his teammates flew home to Auckland, Leiataua remained by Pese’s side for the next week, doing his best to support family members as they arrived in Christchurch.
“I remember Ali being the first person I saw when I came to on the field,” Pese told NRL.com.
“Ali wanted to stay until I got out of surgery, which they weren’t sure I was going to make it out of, and he said he wasn’t going to leave until he saw me come out.
“He’s a great friend and that’s why everyone that knows him loves him.
“We are real grateful for what he did for me.”
That character and empathy came as little surprise to most at the Warriors, many of whom had known Leiataua since he joined the club as a 14-year-old.
He gets his first name from his uncle, Warriors great Ali Lauitiiti, while older sister Onjeurlina was a top league prospect as well and played two seasons with the club in the NRLW.
In picking Leiataua ahead of veteran Brayden Wiliame for the Raiders game, Warriors coach Andrew Webster made a powerful statement about his belief in the 20-year-old.
“He’s been fantastic in reserve grade, he’s been their best player,” Webster said of Leiataua.
“He knows that we have got so much faith in him, that we want him to have a crack this week on such an occasion.
“Someone is having their 300th game and someone is having their debut, so that’s pretty cool.”
A debut coinciding with a 300th match for an opponent is uncommon at the best of times, but it’s extremely rare for it to occur in a direct positional match-up.
Rugby league historian David Middleton found the next closest examples were of props debuting off the bench while starting front-rowers celebrated their 300th games.
In 2015 Chris Grevsmuhl did it on Corey Parker’s special night, while a year earlier both Matt Lodge and Mitchell Moses debuted in Brent Kite’s 300th game.
Eels prop Tim Mannah also made his first appearance in the same game Steve Price brought up 300 while at the Warriors.
Such games are bound to be full of emotion, but Alan Ettles, who coached Leiataua in the Auckland U-20 side, doubts his former star will be worried.
“He will handle it fine; he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he’s been in some pressure environments before and excelled,” Ettles said.
“At King’s College he was playing before big crowds at a very young age and that will have given him some early insight into what it took to be a professional.
“He’s owned that centre position at [NSW] Cup level too. The Warriors haven’t had many NRL players in that squad, but the teams they have been playing have had a litany of NRL players, so he has had some class opposition to play against and has owned them.”
Meanwhile Pese – who had the last of his required post-stroke surgeries earlier this year and has since returned to rugby league – will be among the throng of family and friends watching on from TV sets in Auckland when Leiataua becomes Warrior #282.
“I’ll be super proud. I am buzzing,” Pese said.
“I’ll probably cry seeing it.”
01 June 2o23
Reon Edwards’ involvement in the game stretches back 43 years, but his new role as Canterbury Rugby League President – which was announced at CRL’s AGM on Wednesday night – marks a return to the organisation in a formal role for the first time since 2015.
Edwards’ vast administrative experience includes serving on the Southern Zone Board from 2009-13 and the CRL Board from 2012-15 – the latter during a vital and transformative period for rugby league in our region – before accepting a position on the New Zealand Rugby League Board in 2015.
Edwards has had stints as Chair of CRL and NZRL, while he retains a place as a director on the International Rugby League Board, which he has held since 2018.
“To secure Reon as President is significant,” CRL CEO Malcolm Humm says.
“Although a non-operational role, to have someone with such a depth of knowledge regarding the local, national and international game is immense, and we certainly will be leveraging off this.”
Edwards first pulled on a pair of boots for Marist-Western Suburbs as a five-year-old, later played for Eastern Suburbs, won a CRL premiership with Halswell in 2003 and represented Canterbury Māori.
His enormous contribution to the game at all levels since saw him awarded NZRL Life Membership last year. But he’s excited about contributing in an official capacity again in his home province.
“Of course it’s an honour to be asked to step into the President role,” Edwards says.
“I’ve been involved in the game since my younger days, running around in paddocks, so it’s great to be able to come back to district level – I’m looking forward to supporting the Board with this new role.
“I’ve been involved with some local clubs since retiring from the New Zealand Rugby League Chair role and I’m still engaged with those clubs, it’s been good for me to reconnect.
“I think the game here in Canterbury is progressing and under some really good leadership, with Wally (Wilson) chairing the Board but also with Mal (Humm), he’s 12 months in the role now as CEO and we’ve seen some really good progress made. It’s great to see.”
Edwards outlined some of his chief priorities looking ahead to his term as CRL President, building on the invaluable assistance he has provided to Canterbury’s clubs more recently – in conjunction with the people who continue to be the lifeblood of those clubs.
“My first-hand experience with some of the clubs I’ve been involved with in the last couple of years is that we’ve got a great bunch of volunteers in the game and really committed people within our clubs,” Edwards enthuses.
“Guiding them and providing some support around best practices is where I can lend a good hand. If we can strengthen the governance aspect of our clubs and the strength of our committees and processes, the rest of it will continue in terms of our player participation and increasing our junior numbers.”
CRL Chairperson Wally Wilson reiterated Humm’s sentiments about the prospect of rugby league in the region further benefitting from Edwards’ experience and selfless input.
“To secure a President with such mana and leadership capability is a real privilege for Canterbury Rugby League and I look forward to working with Reon in the future,” Wilson says.
24 May 2023
Black Ferns Sevens player Tyla Nathan-Wong is the latest New Zealand rugby star to swap codes and move across the Tasman.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has agreed to release Nathan-Wong from her contract at her own request to pursue an opportunity to sign for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRLW.
The Dragons confirmed the signing in a tweet on Wednesday: “Olympic gold medalist and rugby sevens gun Tyla Nathan-Wong is now a Dragon.”
Nathan-Wong joins fellow Sevens teammate Niall Guthrie (née Williams) and five-cap Black Fern Cheyelle Robins-Reti as new signings in the women’s rugby league competition.
Nathan-Wong has been involved in the Black Ferns Sevens programme since her debut in 2012 at the age of 18. She has been a pivotal player for the Black Ferns Sevens during this time, achieving a number of milestones on the world stage. Notably she has won two Sevens Rugby World Cups, Olympic silver and gold medals, Commonwealth Games bronze and gold medals, alongside seven Sevens World Series titles.
The 28-year-old said league has always been in her blood and the opportunity to play in the NRLW was a dream.
“I come from a big league family, so that’s where my love for league has always been,” Nathan-Wong said.
“That was my very first sport as a kid at like six years old. I was playing alongside the boys and my cousins and dad were the coaches. I’ve always had this massive love for league and followed the NRL. When the NRLW first started a few years back I was like, ‘man, that is so cool’. Obviously I was in the thick of it with the sevens programme then and been like, ‘how cool would it be to one day jump across’. Post-Tokyo Olympics that actually sprung up again and I thought this could actually be a viable option for me.
“We forecast ahead and looked at what the season would look like and there was this big break at the end of 2023. That’s the perfect opportunity to finally allow this other dream of mine to finally come to fruition and really jump in head first into it and that’s what I’ve done.”
Written by Matt Manukuo
As seen on pmn.co.nz
Mackenzie Wiki, daughter of NRL legend Ruben Wiki, has made a historic deal signing with the Canberra Raiders women’s team.
Wiki will be the first daughter of a former NRL player, to sign with the same club of their parent.
The Cook Island international made her representative debut in last years Women’s Rugby League World Cup, where she picked up two tries in her three games.
Mackenzie, 21, says rugby league is a sport she developed a love for.
“This is only my second year of footy, I always played sevens, netball and I was a swimmer. When I was younger I never had the drive to play league, I was just watching Dad because I love footy.
“Getting into it last year I just found this love for it, actually being on the field rather than watching it.
“It’s an honour to follow my Dad at the same club. His first club was Raiders and now my first club is Raiders. It’s just surreal.”
Mackenzie follows in her father, Ruben footsteps, who debuted for the Raiders 30 years ago. He says once Mackenzie dons the green jersey, it will be an emotional milestone for their family.
“Lost for words sorry it’s an emotional one – if that did come to the fray, it would be a very special moment for our family.
“Due to watching the kids being born here, watching their dad run around and it would be amazing to see her from the grandstand. She does suit the colour, it would be amazing.”
April 10 2023
It was a dominant showing by Auckland in the 18s finals today as the 09 took home both Championship trophies in the Boys’ and Girls’ divisions.
It was a battle between North and South in the 18s Boys’ final, where Auckland faced up against long-time rivals Canterbury.
Canterbury dropped the ball straight from the kick-off, foreshadowing what would come in the boys’ final.
Auckland were clinical capitalising off the Canterbury error to score back-to-back tries but the 09’s discipline wavered, allowing Canterbury to mount their first points.
Auckland came out firing in the second half rolling 60 metres downfield to score their third try. Canterbury’s errors within their half continued to cost them as Auckland gained attacking momentum setting up their fourth four-pointer.
Auckland’s kick chase placed Canterbury’s fullback under pressure as the 09 would scoop up the loose ball to score, claiming the 18s Boys’ Championship with a 24-4 victory.
The Girls’ final shortly followed, and Auckland Red were switched on from the whistle; an effective kick-off forced an error, setting Red up for their first try of the final.
Some physical defensive sets by both sides kept the scoring at bay until late in the first half.
A line break and excellent support play by Auckland White earned them a try, equalising the score to 4-4 at halftime.
The second half saw Auckland Red come back firing, dominating possession and gameplay to score four unanswered tries.
Auckland Red claimed victory with a final score of 20-4 over Auckland White, making them the 2023 U18 9s National Champions.
15 March 2023
The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce the ‘RISE’ Talent Development Programme, in partnership with the NRL, will now be delivered in New Zealand to young aspiring wāhine players.
The NRL’s RISE programme, which has been highly successful across Australia, aims to better prepare young players for the rigours of high-performance environments such as the NRLW, targeting female players aged 17-19 years of age.
The programme enhances skills, teaches the fundamentals of strength & conditioning, and emphasises the importance of player wellbeing.
The NRL extended the invitation following a successful year of female participation in the rangatahi age group here in New Zealand.
2022 saw the introduction of the first National 16 & 18 Girls 9s Tournament, National Secondary Schools Girls Tournament, National Youth Tournament and the first National Representative fixtures for 16s & 18s Girls age groups.
With the NRLW growing from six to 10 teams in 2023, female players have more opportunities to be recognised and establish themselves as elite athletes.
The RISE programme is the next step for young aspiring Kiwi players to become NRLW players and future Kiwi Ferns.
GM of High-Performance for NZRL Motu Tony says, “Thank you to the NRL for inviting our New Zealand players to participate in such a successful programme.
“It’s exciting that our young wāhine will get to experience the benefits of RISE, which will aid their growth and development into future elite athletes.
“Our women’s game has experienced incredible momentum over the past couple of years, and we look forward to seeing this continue as more development opportunities are made available to our rangatahi across Aotearoa.”
February 28 2023
The premier 20’s competition, The Ruben Wiki Cup, is back this year, kicking off on Saturday, the 4th of March, with Bay of Plenty hosting Akarana.
The Ruben Wiki Cup provided a level of competition not seen before in Aotearoa, culminating in a slew of grassroots players signing with professional NRL clubs.
The cup consists of six teams across the motu, with Wellington and Bay of Plenty being the newest additions to the competition replacing upper Central. The six teams will be placed into two pools where they will battle it out over three weeks, where the top two teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals, with the finals being played on March 4.
All games will be televised on Sky.
Week 1 draw:
Saturday 4th March
Bay of Plenty v Akarana – 12pm – Puketawhero Park, Rotorua
Counties Manukau v Wellington Orcas – 2pm – Wise Park, Wainuiomata
Sunday 5th March
Waikato v South Island – 12pm – League Park, Ngāruawāhia
As seen on https://www.stuff.co.nz
Forget the flashy highlight reel tries, the freakish speed and step, Shaun Johnson, now 32, is a different player and person to that fresh-faced kid who lit the NRL up in 2011.
But the Warriors’ halfback doesn’t see that as him going backward, far from it, he believes 2023 – his 13th in the NRL – can be one of his best seasons yet, even if it’s in a different role from how he made his name.
Ahead of Friday’s season opener against the Newcastle Knights in Wellington, Johnson says he’s still growing and improving.
“Obviously with me, coming into the league I was the flairy, fast, steppy guy and now everyone’s going “he doesn’t have the speed,” Johnson said on Monday.
A fact Johnson, who re-joined his junior club from the Sharks last season, doesn’t debate but also refuses to be defined by.
“I think as you get a bit older you probably get a bit stronger in the head, you adjust your game, you learn to play to your strengths and what suits the team around you.”
One of the most polarising figures in the club’s history, Johnson’s talk of a big season will fall flat with some Warriors fans until they see some deeds to back up the words.
Last year was far from his best and the veteran of 227 NRL matches has, at times, been plagued by inconsistency, claims that he goes missing in games, and no longer takes the defensive line on with his running game – now the once electric speed isn’t quite what it was.
“That might frustrate people at times when they don’t see the highlights stuff that they want to see,” Johnson said.
“For me, I’m continuing to grow, I’m continuing to learn, just in different areas.”
Johnson, who confirmed he will be in the halves alongside Te Maire Martin when Andrew Webster names his first team on Tuesday, is no stranger to the weight of expectation.
“Those things get put on my shoulders most years but I think for myself, it’s a pretty privileged position to be in.
“And if that means for some reason it’s not the accolades or the highlights or whatever but we’re winning, that’s fine by me,” Johnson said.
“Whatever it takes to win.
“We don’t roll through these doors and want to improve every day not to win and that’s what we want to do.”
With maturity, the former Kiwis halfback now understands who his most important critics are.
“The only opinions I probably really care about are the ones of the boys downstairs, that’s all that really matters to me, so I’m driven to prove myself to them and I’m driven to prove to myself that I still belong in this arena.
“I’ve still got something to offer, because I’m still getting better.”
Webster has challenged Johnson to think about how he wants his legacy to be remembered at the club and it has inspired him to be hungry to re-establish himself at Mt Smart.
“It’s probably something I never thought about until the question was asked,” Johnson said.
“I never played my career thinking about how am I going to be remembered, I’ve just played it in the moment.”
A major part of Johnson’s 2023 confidence comes from having his first full pre-season in years, after missing the Kiwis squad for last year’s World Cup, and training injury free before Christmas. Factors that have seen him tip the scales at more than 2kg lighter than his playing weight in recent seasons.
There will always be doubters but Johnson said the support of genuine fans also matters to the playing group.
“We’ve got a real chance this year to re-establish ourselves back here and connect with our fans, which we haven’t been able to do and inspire some of the young Kiwi kids coming through.”
The much-maligned halfback has also copped plenty of criticism when it hasn’t always been warranted too.
Johnson was unexpectedly isolated from his family during the 2022 NRL season, including his wife Kayla and young daughter Millah, when the Warriors remained in Australia because of the surge in Covid-19 cases from the Delta variant.
“Being home, being around family, being able to be a dad, being able to see my mum, my dad, friends, all the stuff that you probably take for granted when you’ve never not had it, so it has certainly been the key factor,” Johnson said of his pre-season.
As seen on https://www.nrl.com
Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich is hoping the emotion of yet another ‘first’ for the club will be behind his team when the side run out for their opening round match against the Roosters in Round 1.
While it was a long build up for fans to see their team finally hit the field, for the players that went down to the Gold Coast Titans in their Round 2 Pre-season Challenge match at Kayo Stadium, the preparations have been comparatively short, with full squad only training together for six weeks before the game.
“It felt surreal; felt like a long time coming,” Bromwich told media following the game about running out in front of a home crowd for the first time.
“I think it’s a bit of emotion running out (tonight), hopefully we’ve got that out of the way and we’ll look on to a very tough game against the Roosters.
“It’s our first game here and running out to a packed-out Kayo Stadium, it’s really nice, a lot of the fans are sticking around and you can see they all love the place and they’ve been a part of this place for a long time.
“We’re obviously the first NRL side, but this club has been here for a long time, so it’s nice to be part of a bit of history for this club.”
Since the start of pre-season training late last year, the Dolphins have been busy off of the field as well, with preparations for their inaugural season in the NRL involving more than just getting players on the field.
Their recent club season launch saw the official unveiling of Bromwich as their captain, while during this past week; club representatives and the full top squad of players attended the launch of Stan’s three-part documentary series ‘Dawn of the Dolphins’, outlining how the club came to be the first expansion club in the NRL since the Titans in 2007 and the build-up to their first official game.
Speaking at the launch, club CEO Terry Reader said the important thing for him was “the ability to tell our story, which isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about what went on to build a club inside 12 months”.
However, the club will be judged on their on-field performances and captain Bromwich didn’t shy away from the hard work needed following their 40-16 loss to the Gold Coast.
It seemed the occasion did overawe the players who were slow off the mark from the kick-off, allowing three quick tries within the opening 11 minutes in the game to put the whole side on the backfoot, with Jack Bostock’s try late in the first half preventing too many blushes.
“I didn’t like the way we started in both halves, we gave up too much possession with our penalties and our completion rate … I think a few of our guys did fairly well, but we played like a team where this was our first game together and I think it showed,” Bromwich said.
“Of course we need to be better; we’re not really happy with the way we performed, but we’ll take the positives out of what we’ve done.
“Obviously, there’s a few things we need to work on, some of our defence and our edge defence there was pretty leaky at times, but we’ll go back with the video and work extremely hard … to make that better.
“We had a decent pre-season, (but) obviously … we didn’t want to play that way and that’s not how we prepared to play.
“I think it probably wasn’t ideal for the club having six guys coming back after Christmas [following the Rugby League World Cup] and (we) probably would have liked to have gotten together before that, but it is what it is, that’s past.
“But we know what we need to work on and we’ll go and work really hard at doing that. It’s our first game together; we had a very short preseason together (and) we’re only going to get better from here.
“This this going to probably be a tough game to watch back, but one that’s needed and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
A Selwyn Cobbo hat-trick propelled the Indigenous All Stars to a 28-24 victory over a gutsy Māori All side in the Saturday’s NRL Harvey Norman All Stars clash in Rotorua.
Cobbo scored his three tries in the space of 12 minutes in the final quarter of the match to help his side overcome a Māori outfit who led for the opening 44 minutes and fought back to make it a one-score game with two minutes to go.
Halfback Nicho Hynes was at the heart of the win for Ronald Griffiths’ side, scoring a try and then setting one up either side of half-time to claim the Preston Campbell Medal as player of the match.
With the Māori leading 18-16 with 20 minutes to go, Cobbo took it upon himself to put his side ahead with a try that showed off all of his athletic talent, before grabbing another two in quick succession to put the result beyond doubt.
A spirited pre-match Indigenous war cry was met with a stunning haka – performed to a chorus of cheers from most of the 17,644 fans in attendance – it was a nervous drop from Cobbo on his first touch which gifted the Māori with the opening try.
After the Indigenous hit back through Tyrell Sloan, who grabbed onto a Brent Naden flick pass, Cobbo left a try begging when he dropped the ball with an open line in front of him.
The sides then traded converted tries to Jesse Arthars and Hynes to leave the Māori up 12-10 at the half-time, with Josh Kerr being sent to the sin bin just before the break for a high contact with his shoulder on James Fisher-Harris.
But the numerical disadvantage did little to hurt the Indigenous side, who scored four minutes into the second half, with Hynes again at the heart of it with a break which ended in Naden crossing.
Jordan Riki’s try stopped the rot temporarily, before Cobbo took over the game with his treble.
A late try to Preston Riki did reduce the gap to four, but wasn’t enough to change the result.
As seen on https://www.stuff.co.nz
They may be no-names now, but by the end of the season these players could transform into stars of the NRL. Here are the 10 rookies set to make their NRL debut in 2023, with the first three having Kiwi origins.
Wellington-born Katoa was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Penrith and the Dolphins last year. With Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary blocking his path, he opted to join Wayne Bennett on a lucrative deal for a player without NRL experience.
Katoa was banished from Penrith midway through last year after signing with the Dolphins, but returned in the finals series to lead the Panthers to premiership glory in the NSW Cup. Made his international debut for Tonga at the end of the year and showed that he has a long and bright future in the sport.
Position: Back row
Almost got the chance to make his NRL debut last year, but the Roosters decided to hold him back. Wong was impressive in the lower grades in 2022 and showed he belongs on the big stage with an impressive outing for Fiji at the World Cup.
Born in Auckland, Wong is a rugby union product of Sydney’s Scots College. Wong started last season in SG Ball, leading the team to a grand final. He finished the year as one of the best players for the Bears in a disappointing NSW Cup finals campaign before heading over to England for the World Cup.
Raised in Wellington and a former Randwick junior, Oloapu recently signed a four-year deal to link up with the Bulldogs this year following a messy exit from the Brisbane Broncos.
Oloapu is so highly regarded that the Bulldogs forked out a reported $500,000 transfer fee to secure his services for this year. While Kyle Flanagan will be given first crack at the Canterbury No.7 jersey, the teen will join Khaled Rajab pushing for a spot later in the season.
Oloapu, who had been part of Brisbane’s system from the age of 13, refused to train late last year after what he claimed was a series of “broken promises”. New Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo recently convinced him his future was at Belmore.
Canterbury have big expectations of Alamoti, who turned 19 a fortnight ago. The powerful centre is expected to start the season in Ciraldo’s strongest 13.
Alamoti graduated from Kogarah Marist, where he also excelled in basketball and athletics. The Bulldogs have struggled to produce local talent in recent seasons but Alamoti is straight out of local team the Milperra Colts. He’s been a star through all the lower grades, playing for NSW in the under 18’s Origin and also selected in the Australian Schoolboys merit team.
This could be the one that got away for Newcastle. Jonah is the son of former NRL player Troy Pezet. He finished with four try assists for NSW in the under 19’s State of Origin game last year, playing a leading hand in the Blues’ 32-4 win.
Could make his NRL debut during the representative window. A star in the making. Was already contracted to Melbourne for 2023 but recently extended his deal to commit his future to the Storm until the end of 2025.
Another product of Queensland’s Keebra Park State High School. There are high hopes for Mozer to be the club’s long-term No 9. It’s a position the Broncos appear to be short on depth with Billy Walters tipped to start the season at dummy-half.
Some say he’s a throwback to some of the game’s more creative hookers like Robbie Farah and Cameron Smith. While his footy IQ is at a high standard, he still has to improve his physicality. A work in progress but a player with a bright future. Played for Queensland in the under 19’s Origin last year.
Position: Fullback, centre, wing
The Australian Schoolboys star is expected to win one of Penrith’s last remaining top 30 spots in 2023. Everyone at Penrith is talking about the progression of the kid who can play fullback, wing or centre.
He won Penrith’s SG Ball Emerging Talent award last year, scoring a double in the grand final victory over the Roosters. While no one at Penrith wanted to lose Stephen Crichton, they also knew that McLean was coming through the ranks and will be vying for a regular spot in 2024.
His preferred position is fullback but he may have to wait a while judging by the performances of incumbent Dylan Edwards. McLean, a Blacktown and Doonside junior, is tipped to get his debut during the Origin period for the Panthers.
He won’t be able to play in the NRL until his 18th birthday on May 28, but the excitement around the younger brother of Manase Fainu is undeniable. While Josh Schuster will be given first crack at the No 6 jersey following the departure of Kieran Foran, there is pressure from underneath.
Manly knew from a young age that Fainu was destined for the NRL. It’s why they handed him a lucrative four-year deal as a 16-year-old. The Guildford junior is another one from the crop of western Sydney talent the Sea Eagles have snared in recent years.
Feledy struck up a combination with Latu Fainu at Manly, but decided to join the Wests Tigers this year. The Tigers are short on quality outside backs and have identified Feledy as a star of the future.
Unlikely to get time in the NRL the first half of the year, but we know coach Tim Sheens isn’t afraid to throw a teenager into the NRL.
He did it with Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall and could do it again with Feledy in 2023. Has speed to burn and an attacking game that will excite Tigers fans.
The Dolphins thought they had secured Hassett’s services in a major coup for the NRL’s newcomers. But at the 11th hour Hassett had a change of heart and decided to remain at the Panthers.
Penrith came in late with a revised offer to keep him at the club. While the Panthers have plenty of depth in the forwards, Hassett could come into calculations during the Origin period.
Hassett, a St Marys junior, was part of Penrith’s SG Ball-winning side last year, scoring six tries and racking up 29 tackle busts in 10 games.
18 January 2023
The National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup returns for 2023, with Bay of Plenty and Wellington joining the competition.
Kicking off Friday, March 3rd, six teams will battle it out for the National 20s title; reigning champions Akarana, Counties Manukau, Waikato Mana, South Island and newcomers Bay of Plenty and Wellington Orcas.
The Ruben Wiki Cup games will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 4 to domestic and international audiences, working as a key development pathway for future high-performance opportunities.
The Ruben Wiki Cup showcases New Zealand’s U20s domestic game and provides clubs and districts with the opportunity to recruit and retain rangatahi talent, an age group notorious for significant drop-offs in sporting activity.
NZRL is looking to expand the National 20s competition in 2024 with the inclusion of an additional two to four District teams, as well as a women’s grade.
NZRL GM of High Performance and Football, Motu Tony, says: “Each year, the competition has provided players with opportunities to further their careers with NRL or NRL-affiliated clubs.
“With each game being broadcast, the competition shines a spotlight on our best young players; not only that, it’s a key development opportunity for coaches, managers, trainers and match officials across the country.
“The Ruben Wiki Cup gets bigger and better every year, and I look forward to a great competition this 2023.”
Hull, England, November 5, 2022 – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has been brought into the centres and Nelson Asofa-Solomona will again start in the second row in the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Fiji Bati at MKM Stadium in Hull today (7.30pm kick-off local time; 8.30am Sunday NZT).
In confirming the line-up for the match, head coach Michael Maguire has recalled Nicoll-Klokstad after using Briton Nikora in the centres in last week’s 48-10 win over Ireland.
The starting side is otherwise unchanged from the one used against the Wolfhounds.
Kieran Foran, Isaiah Papali’i and Isaac Liu are again on the interchange along with Nikora.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been withdrawn from the squad due to a hamstring injury. Scott Sorensen is 18th man and Jeremy Marshall-King is 19th man.
NZ KIWIS v FIJI
MKM Stadium, Hull
7.30pm, Saturday, November 5, 2022
For inquiries please contact:
New Zealand Kiwis
Mobile: +64 21 814 537
As seen at NRL.com
A starring performance from Jahrome Hughes in his return from injury has seen New Zealand officially book their place in the World Cup quarterfinals with 48-10 win over Ireland at Headingley.
With the Kiwis’ first-choice spine all playing together for the first time in the tournament, Michael Maguire’s side overcame a slow start to eventually overpower the Wolfhounds in a ten-tries-to-two victory — setting up a likely quarterfinal clash against Fiji next week.
Ireland, on the other hand, face a nervous wait as to their potential progression, with the Wolfhounds needing Jamaica to upset Lebanon in order to secure their spot in the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Having missed the opening two matches with a thigh strain, Hughes marked his return to the team with a starring performance — scoring his side’s first try of the game before setting up the following four to give New Zealand a commanding half-time lead that they would not relinquish despite a determined Ireland effort.
Hughes’ contributions came despite a clunky start to the game from the Kiwis, with Ireland taking a 2-0 lead after 11 minutes through an Ed Chamberlain penalty goal.
The Storm superstar quickly took over the contest, however, jinking his way back inside several defenders to give New Zealand the lead after 15 minutes before slicing open the Wolfhounds with his kicking game to put right edge outside backs Jordan Rapana and Peta Hiku over for tries within the space of seven minutes.
With a healthy Irish contingent in the crowd at Leeds, Louis Senior gave the fans something to cheer about with his intercept off a Briton Nikora pass giving Ireland their first try of the game, but there was no denying Hughes his dominance of the first half. The Kiwis halfback quickly took back control of the game, stepping back inside Luke Keary to put Hiku over for his second, before linking up with Dylan Brown just before the break to put Ronaldo Mulitalo over for a try.
With Kieran Foran initially shifting into hooker for the second half, Brandon Smith showed his ball-playing skills with a deft inside pass for James Fisher-Harris to extend the Kiwis’ lead after half-time, before Foran returned to the halves as Hughes was given an early mark after an hour following his second try of the game.
The shift did little to dent the Kiwis’ attacking enthusiasm, however, with Foran setting up Kenny Bromwich to score his first try of this year’s World Cup while Joey Manu put the icing on the cake with typically classy try late on.
In an otherwise positive night for New Zealand, enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will face a nervous wait from the match review committee after he was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Dan Norman. The Roosters prop was only just returning from suspension, and with no monetary fines system in place for the World Cup, could be ruled out for the Kiwis’ upcoming knockout round matches.
It might not have been the best attacking start to the game for the Kiwis, but Jahrome Hughes eventually got the scoring underway when he took matters into his own hands after 14 minutes. Despite being flat-footed when he collected the ball, the Storm halfback showed a sharp pair of heels to burst through several attempted tacklers, before stepping his way through the defensive line to score.
New Zealand will have a good break now before their quarterfinal, which will likely be against Fiji next Sunday (AEDT). Coach Michael Maguire will be hoping Marata Niukore (pectoral), Moses Leota (hamstring) and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (calf) will all be available for selection, especially with a potential suspension looming for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. Ireland, meanwhile, will face a nervous wait as to their potential progression through to the knockout rounds. The Wolfhounds need Jamaica to upset Lebanon to continue their tournament; a win for the Cedars would see them leapfrog Ireland into second place.
October 28, 2022
As seen on NRL.com.
Page McGregor has played plenty of footy alongside older sister Raecene over the years, but is looking forward to the unique experience of doing it at the upcoming World Cup with her sibling being a newly-crowned Dally M Medal winner.
Since watching Raecene pick up the 2022 NRLW Dally M Medal last month, Page has embarked on a proud victory lap on her sister’s behalf.
“I am always going around showing people her medal and giving her praise,” Page told NRL.com.
“She doesn’t really worry about that stuff, it’s definitely more me.
“She loves that she got the award and everything, but she’s just really humble.
“She has really deserved this. She has worked so hard over the years and deserves this credit.
Both McGregor siblings are set to play a key role for the Kiwi Ferns as they seek to win their first World Cup since 2008.
After a stunning NRLW campaign with the Roosters, which saw her top the competition with 10 try assists in five games, Raecene will don the No.7 jersey for coach Ricky Henry, while Page is set to play in the centres following her Test debut earlier this year against Tonga.
Raecene told NRL.com she was excited to line up alongside her sister again, while also taking comfort from having two of her key forwards from the Roosters – Mya Hill-Moana and Otesa Pule – in the team.
“It’s awesome to have Page here. We haven’t really been able to play too much together due to injury and now playing for separate clubs,” Raecene said.
“But to play Tests together is special and I can’t wait.
“It’s really cool to have some of those Roosters girls here too and for them to be rewarded for their achievements through the year.
“I have been really enjoying my footy this season and now looking forward to getting on the park with these girls.”
The Kiwi Ferns, who will be based in York along with their New Zealand male counterparts, open their campaign against France on November 3 (AEST), before taking on Cook Islands and Australia in Group B.
As seen on nrl.com by Corey Rosser
Watching Jared Waerea-Hargreaves toe the fine line between on-field intimidator and flat out rule breaker can be a whirlwind adventure for any rugby league fan.
Now imagine what it must be like for the 33-year-old father of three to try and explain it to his kids when he gets home.
“My oldest is seven now and she loves watching daddy play for the Roosters. Sometimes the line gets pushed and I may have an altercation on the field and my daughter does see,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.
“I get home and explain that daddy got in trouble on the field last night. She asks ‘why did you get in trouble?’ and I say ‘sometimes daddy has to push a boundary that is sometimes a little bit too far’ and you can see her little mind thinking.”
The most recent of those conversions likely took place last month, when a head slam on Rabbitohs prop on Tom Burgess in a fiery Qualifying Final clash which the Roosters lost, saw Waerea-Hargreaves cop a three-game ban.
At the point of learning about that charge, ‘JWH’ assumed it had killed off any hope he had of making coach Michael Maguire’s New Zealand squad for the World Cup.
“When I woke up after having a few beers after the last Roosters game, I woke up to my wife saying that I’d been suspended for three games,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.
“Firstly I thought that I wasn’t going [to the World Cup]. I sat there for about half an hour thinking ‘there’s no way Madge [Maguire] is going to select me now that I’m not going to be playing for a month.’”
But with Maguire still seeing the veteran as a key part of the Kiwis’ campaign, a grateful Waerea-Hargreaves is now in line to make his return to the Test arena for the first time since 2019 when New Zealand play Ireland on Saturday morning (AEDT).
After playing 20 NRL games this year the Rotorua-born prop admitted the opening month of camp with the Kiwis has been a frustrating experience, as he trained on knowing he wasn’t in the frame for selection.
“You come away and all you want to do is play… I have got to be honest with you, it’s quite frustrating, you come away in a 24-man squad and you do fitness most days and go and do extra work away [from the group], knowing it’s going to benefit yourself and the team, but there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel other than three, four weeks away,” he said.
“I trained with the team [this week], other than just running the ball up 20 times and getting bashed and just being that guy. It was really exciting to be back and knowing that I’m playing on Friday.
“I just need to get out there this Friday and play as long and as hard as I can. Hopefully that leads me into selections the following week.”
Waerea-Hargreaves faces an uphill battle to force his way into the 17 beyond group play, with New Zealand possessing impressive depth in the front row.
With Joseph Tapine likely to play lock, Premiership-winning Panther James Fisher-Harris and captain Jesse Bromwich are the first-choice starters, with Nelson Asofa-Solomona also sure to be part of the squad, likely leaving JWH to fight it with Penrith duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen for a spot on the bench.
Bromwich said Waerea-Hargreaves’ style will fit in nicely with the current group of Kiwis big boppers.
“He brings a lot to the team both on and off the field. I look forward to seeing him rip and tear this week,” Bromwich said.
“We all know he is a really aggressive sort of player and plays with a lot of intent, and I think it’s going to suit this team really nicely.”
JOB TITLE: NZRL Rest of Aotearoa Girls Asst Coach
HOURS OF WORK: This is a voluntary role that requires a commitment of some weekend work and a camp for each campaign.
APPOINTMENT TERM: One (1) year plus an additional one (1) year pending campaign review.
REPORT TO: National Coaching & Development Manager, Head of Womens Rugby League and Head Coach
New Zealand Rugby League:
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for youth female players to participate in rugby league. The NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s Girls representative teams contribute to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16s Girls team Asst Coach.
New Zealand Rugby League goals:
Through our “More Than A Game” philosophy, NZRL aspires to transform lives and community wellbeing through Rugby League.
Underpinning this philosophy is The Kiwi Way.
We are diverse, we call New Zealand home and therefore, we are all Kiwis.
We are inclusive, respectful and humble
We are responsible
We are innovative and courageous
We are family first
We live and play The Kiwi Way every day
An NZRL Assistant Coach will perform their role with professionalism and integrity while supporting the agreed direction for the campaign. They will support the Head Coach by analysing the team’s strengths and work-on’s to contribute to their game strategies. The assistant coach will have sound rugby league knowledge and will work collaboratively with the Head Coach to achieve successful outcomes, both on and off the field. It is important to remember that this age group is making the transition from adolescents to adulthood. A variety of coaching methods are essential to meet the needs of each player. They will also demonstrate the ability to effectively lead and manage individuals and meet the desired targets set with the Head Coach and NZRL. The assistant coach will also assist in reviewing and evaluating the team and individuals performance against key performance indicators.
This assistant coach position will cover the NZRL Rest of Aotearoa Girls campaigns.
KEY INFORMATION & DATES:
Team Selection dates
2nd October – 6th October 2022– Taupo
Date Friday 21st October – 24th October
Venue – QBE Stadium – North Harbour
· Support and assist the Head Coach on cataloguing gear and equipment requirements specified in relation to training, conditioning and game day
· Support delivery of football programme
· Support and contribute with the Head Coach to ensure training sessions are well structured, and maximises the usage of time and resources available and provides drills and practices that enhance the player’s skill development and understanding of the game
• Assist at the end of campaign review (for both campaigns)
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS REQUIRED:
Skills and Qualifications:
• Senior Club Coach qualified no earlier than 2015
• A minimum of 3 years’ experience in a Head Coach position at U18’s / Secondary School’s or above
• A minimum of 2 years’ experience in a coaching position at U18’s or above
• The ability to plan and prioritise their tasks and activities
• Strong communication and organisation skills
• Thorough knowledge of different coaching styles, approaches and techniques
• A sound understanding of Rugby League at a National & International level (NZ)
• Understand the characteristics and needs of the athletes being coached in relation to their stage of development
Planning and Reporting:
• Submit training details and game plan/book within a set timeframe
• Provide weekly work-in-progress meetings with relevant football and NZRL staff
• Prepare a report in NZRL prescribed format to be completed within the agreed deadline
• Highly motivated and determined
• Consultative and collaborative
• Can coach the Kiwi Way by possessing positive relational and performance character strengths
• Team focused
• Enables others to perform their roles to the best of their ability
• Possesses a Hauora approach to developing people
To register your interest in the above position, please email your Coaching C.V and Cover Letter to the National Coaching and Development Manager (Dan Keepa) at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than EOB Friday 23rd September 2022 (The successful coaching staff will be required to undergo the NZRL Police Vetting protocols)
JOB TITLE: NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s Girls Manager
HOURS OF WORK: This is a voluntary role that requires a commitment of some weekend work and a camp for the campaign.
REPORT TO: Head of Women’s Rugby League and the Head Coach
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for female youth players to participate in rugby league. The NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s Girls representative teams contribute to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16s Girls team Manager.
We are diverse; we call New Zealand home, and therefore, we are all Kiwis.
The Team Manager will be the key person responsible for liaising between the team and the NZRL. As part of the management team, you will be a role model for the players and other management staff members. There is an expectation that all management staff will adhere to the NZRL Kiwi Way philosophy.
This Manager position will cover the NZRL Rest of Aotearoa Girls campaigns.
To register interest for the above position, please email your team management C.V and a Cover Letter to the Head of Women’s Rugby League (Luisa Avaiki) at LAvaiki@nzrl.co.nz no later than EOB Friday 23rd September 2022 (The successful coaching staff will be required to undergo the NZRL Police Vetting protocols)
JOB TITLE: NZRL Rest or Aotearoa 16s Girls Trainer
HOURS OF WORK: This is a voluntary role that requires a commitment of some weekend work and a camp for the campaign.
REPORT TO: National Coaching & Development Manager and Head Coach, Head of Women’s Rugby League and LeagueSmart Manager.
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for youth female players to participate in rugby league. The NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s s Girls representative teams contribute to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’sGirls team trainer.
We are diverse, we call New Zealand home, and therefore we are all Kiwis.
The trainer is required to facilitate sessions in a manner that minimises the risk of injury and promotes athlete wellbeing. They will also work very closely with the coaching staff to ensure that training sessions are co-designed to meet the desired outcomes. The trainer must also mentor the players in nutrition, training, prehab, rehab, and general lifestyle decisions that meet the NZRL gold standard.
The Trainer position will cover the NZRL Rest of Aotearoa Girls campaigns.
• Achieved a minimum of NZRL Developing Trainer or National Trainer Accreditation preferred) or record of prior learning (Level 5 Sports Science or Fitness, with relevant rugby league strength and conditioning experience [1-3 years]).
• Experience in training women or girls is preferable
• A proven understanding of the concussion protocols, injury prevention, assessment, and treatment
• Have the ability to adapt sessions to meet the needs and expectations of team management and players
• Excellent communication skills that motivate and inspire (Charismatic)
• Support others to maximise and realize their potential
• Able to work as part of a multifaceted team
To register your interest in the above position, please email your Coaching C.V and Cover Letter to the NZRL LeagueSmart Manager (Shawn Stewart) email@example.com no later than EOB Friday 23rd September 2022 (The successful coaching staff will be required to undergo the NZRL Police Vetting protocols)
JOB TITLE: NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s Girls Head Coach
REPORT TO: National Coaching & Development Manager and Head of Women’s Rugby League
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for female youth players to participate in rugby league. The NZRL Rest of Aotearoa 16’s Girls representative team contributes to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
An NZRL coach will play an integral part in helping players forge a pathway to discover their true greatness. It is essential to understand that all NZRL coaches have the opportunity to enhance the way a player thinks, acts and feels about the game by providing a positive experience both on and off the field.
The Coach will prepare individuals and the team for their best possible performance for the duration of their campaign. To be successful in this role, the Head Coach must perform all requirements in this job description to a high standard. The coach has a significant impact on player development, wellbeing, motivation and the overall playing performance of the team. Ensuring that the pride and integrity of the jersey are upheld through the team’s day-to-day activities will also be part of the coach’s ongoing responsibilities. The Coach must demonstrate the ability to lead and manage individuals and staff effectively while meeting the desired outcomes in this job description. It is important to remember that this age group is transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Hence, a variety of coaching methods are essential to meet the needs of each player.
· Can coach the Kiwi Way by possessing positive relational and performance character strengths
· Team focused
· Enables others to perform their roles to the best of their ability
· Possesses a Hauora approach to developing people
To register your interest in the above position, please email your Coaching C.V and Cover Letter to the National Coaching and Development Manager (Dan Keepa) firstname.lastname@example.org no later than EOB Friday 23rd September 2022 (The successful coaching staff will be required to undergo the NZRL Police Vetting protocols)
JOB TITLE: NZRL Secondary School Girls Asst Coach
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for youth female players to participate in rugby league. The New Zealand Secondary Schools Girls representative teams contribute to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Secondary School Girls team Asst Coach.
An NZRL Assistant Coach will perform their role with professionalism and integrity while supporting the agreed direction for the campaign. They will support the Head Coach by analysing the team’s strengths and work-on’s to contribute to their game strategies. The assistant coach will have sound rugby league knowledge and will work collaboratively with the Head Coach to achieve successful outcomes, both on and off the field. It is important to remember that this age group is making the transition from adolescents to adulthood. A variety of coaching methods are essential to meet the needs of each player. They will also demonstrate the ability to effectively lead and manage individuals and meet the desired targets set with the Head Coach and NZRL. The assistant coach will also assist in reviewing and evaluating the team and individuals performance against key performance indicators. This assistant coach position will cover the New Zealand Secondary School Girls campaigns.
30th August – 3rd September 2022– Rotorua
JOB TITLE: NZRL Secondary School Girls Head Coach
REPORT TO: National Coaching & Development Manager and Head of Womens Rugby League
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. With a commitment to growing the female game, providing positive experiences and opportunities for female youth players to participate in rugby league. The New Zealand Secondary Schools and New Zealand Resident 18’s Girls representative teams contribute to the female pathway, which leads to and includes the NRLW and NZRL Kiwi Ferns.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the dual role of NZRL Secondary School Girls team Head Coach.
An NZRL coach will play an integral part in helping players forge a pathway to discover their true greatness. It is essential to understand that all NZRL coaches have the opportunity to enhance the way a player thinks, acts and feels about the game by providing a positive NZRL experience both on and off the field.
The Coach will prepare individuals and the team for their best possible performance for the duration of their campaign. To be successful in this role, the head coach must perform all requirements in this job description to a high standard. The coach has a significant impact on player development, welfare, motivation and the overall playing performance of the team. Ensuring that the pride and integrity of the jersey are upheld through the team’s day to day activities will also be part of the coaches ongoing responsibilities. The Coach will demonstrate the ability to lead and manage individuals and staff effectively while meeting the desired outcomes in this job description. It is important to remember that this age group are making the transition from adolescents to adulthood. Hence, a variety of coaching methods are essential to meet the needs of each player.
JOB TITLE: NZRL Secondary School Girls Manager
REPORT TO: Head of Womens Rugby League and the Head Coach
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Secondary School Girls team Manager.
To register interest for the above position, please email your team management C.V and a Cover Letter to the Head of Womens Rugby League (Luisa Avaiki) LAvaiki@nzrl.co.nz no later than EOB Friday 23rd September 2022 (The successful coaching staff will be required to undergo the NZRL Police Vetting protocols)
JOB TITLE: NZRL Secondary School Girls Trainer
REPORT TO: National Coaching & Development Manager and Head Coach, Head of Womens Rugby League and LeagueSmart Manager.
The successful candidate will be appointed in the role of NZRL Secondary School Girls team trainer.
July 20, 2022
Congratulations to the following who received Distinguished Service Awards at the 2022 NZRL AGM.
Coaster Jenny Nahu started her rugby league journey at the famous Cobden club in rugby league heartland, Greymouth. Cobden was a family affair for Nahu, serving alongside her parents and brother to grow the club, whether building the clubrooms or working tirelessly with her mother to raise funds for the various teams.
Jenny’s journey took her to Ngongotaha Rugby League Club in Rotorua after she met her future husband, Nick Nahu. Both played integral roles in allowing the club to flourish. Similarly to her time at Cobden, she and Nick were vital to the Ngongotaha clubrooms being built as they had used their own house as the temporary meeting place. Since 1967, Nahu has consistently applied her efforts to fundraising and supporting the club and has been awarded the Life Membership award for Ngongotaha Rugby League Club.
Jenny’s service to Bay of Plenty Rugby League (BOPRL) is what she is most widely recognised for in the game. Jenny had heavy influence in allocating dedicated rugby league grounds in the area and setting up the BOPRL headquarters at Rotorua’s Puketawhero Park.
Nahu has been awarded the NRL Volunteer of the year (2010), The Female Volunteer Recognition Award (2010), was on the BOPRL Board for over 35 years and is a Ngongotaha RLC life member.
Very few individuals dedicate over 60 years of their life serving the rugby league community, and Jenny continues to at the age of 77.
Alongside his wife, Jenny, Nick has been instrumental in the growth of BOPRL. A Huntly south junior, Nahu was a New Zealand U15s schoolboy and West Coast representative before narrowing his focus on the Ngongotahu Rugby League club.
A Bay of Plenty (BoP) representative throughout his junior years, Nahu was a stalwart for the region until he hung up the boots in 1976. The following year he transitioned from player to selector for BoP and joined the BoP Schoolboy board. From 1977 to 1995, Nick coached touring teams to Australia, was awarded a Life Membership award for Ngongotahu and became president of both the BoP Senior board and the Ngongotahu Rugby League Club.
Since 1996, Nahu has helped around the club under various hats, including coaching, managing and stapping. He and Jenny are constantly giving their time and effort towards the needs of the rugby league club, whether organising fundraisers, cleaning, maintaining or preparing aftermatch festivities. The Nahu family are the lifeblood of Ngongotahu and integral to the foundation of BoP Rugby League.
Nick and Jenny Nahu receiving their awards
Paddy Byrne is a stalwart of the rugby league community in New Zealand. A proud Greymouth coaster, Paddy, has invested many years of his life into the game of rugby league.
A loyal member of the Greymouth Marist Club, Byrne wore many hats throughout his time there. Starting as a junior, Paddy eventually became a player-coach for the Premier side in 1980. The Marist junior took over full-time coaching duties in 1998, guiding the club to a premiership win in their 75th Jubilee.
In 1984, Paddy took up refereeing, where he would go on to call the whistle on eight out of nine premier grand finals. From there, Paddy enjoyed success refereeing and running the touchline for numerous International level games.
A veteran of rugby league, Byrne’s resume also includes; serving on the Marist Committee from 1973 to 2000, being a development officer for West Coast Rugby League and nurturing the West Coast rugby league academy, of which the likes of Cowboys forward Griffin Neame have come through.
He has been instrumental in keeping the game alive and well in the small town, bringinghim a lifetime of valuable experience.
Greymouth’s Paddy Byrne receiving his Distinguished Service award
George is a lifelong steward of rugby league, having started his journey at the Randwick Rugby League club in 1979. Making his premier debut at 14, Lajpold remained at his boyhood club till 1992, also representing Wellington and Central Districts.
During his playing career, the Wellington native became an international representative, playing six games for the Cook Islands in 1986. The following year Lajpold became Kiwi #601 when he was selected to be a part of the 1987 New Zealand Kiwis squad to tour Australia.
Although having spent time working for the Southern Zone, The Randwick clubman has always been passionate about his city. George has spent countless hours helping rugby league and the wider Wellington community.
The former Kiwi currently runs coaching clinics in Wellington and constantly volunteers where he can, whether managing games or setting up post-pads.
Reon Edwards – LIFE MEMBERSHIP
Reon Edwards has been involved in rugby league from grassroots to the High-Performance level. Reon has been a significant Canterbury rugby league community member, a journey that started as a junior for the Eastern Eagles.
Boasting 25 years of playing experience for the Eagles, Halswell Hornets and Eastern Suburbs Marist, Edwards later moved into administration and governance roles after he finished playing the game.
In a time of uncertainty, Edwards became the Chair of Canterbury Rugby League, stabilising the organisation and rebuilding it after many administrators had moved on. Reon became a foundational board member for the Southern Zone in 2009, where his experience and leadership were extremely valuable. In 2015, Reon moved into a director role for the NZRL Board, becoming the vice chair in 2016 and Chair from 2017 to 2021, helping to aid NZRL through complex challenges that included the Covid-19 restrictions.
Edwards currently contributes to the game as a board member of the Rugby League International Federation. Reon also serves as the IRL Audit and Risk Committee Chair while also assisting the Papanui Tigers in their centenary year.
Reon has committed 37 years to the game of rugby league and continues contributing to see the sport grow.
Howie Tamati presenting Reon Edwards his award
June 24, 2022
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has inducted, for the first time in its history, four Kiwi Ferns to its prestigious Legends of League. Congratulations to Kiwi Fern legends, Luisa Avaiki, Nadene Conlon, Trish Hina and Leah Witehira who now join the esteemed Legends’ Club.
Also receiving the top New Zealand Rugby League honour are Kevin Iro, Stacey Jones, James Leuluai, Sir Graham Lowe, Dane O’Hara, Quentin Pongia, Howie Tamati and Ruben Wiki.
Expanding the NZRL Legends of League further has been a long time coming – and the return of the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns to the Test arena after a three-year, COVID-enforced hiatus seems the perfect juncture to honour a new batch of inductees.
A six-strong panel made up of NZRL President, NZRL Life Member and former Kiwis captain and coach Howie Tamati, NZRL Life Member and 1994-2000 Kiwis coach Frank Endacott, 1990s Kiwi and 2008 Legends of League inductee Tawera Nikau, 1995 Kiwi Ferns original and long-serving NZRL Kiwis and National Teams Manager Nadene Conlon, former NZRL Director Elizabeth Richards, and rugby league journalist, author and NZRL historian Will Evans heeded the call in recent months to run the rule over dozens of worthy candidates.
Building on the recent work to recognise and celebrate the New Zealand women’s team’s history, the historic decision was made to induct an initial group of four Kiwi Ferns to the Legends of League, along with eight new Kiwis selections.
The key criteria set down for Legends of League recognition were: longevity, leadership, achievement and performance at international level (first and foremost) as well as club and provincial level; enhancing rugby league’s standing in New Zealand; and post-playing contribution to the game. Having been retired for at least five years – a directive since the establishment of the Legends of League in 1995 – remains a requirement.
Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones narrowly missed the five-year retirement cut-off when the last batch of Legends of League were inducted in 2013 – and their inclusion this time around was essentially a fait accompli.
The Auckland juniors and long-time Kiwis teammates, who played 101 Test matches between them in the 1990s and 2000s, were the only New Zealand Team of the Century selections yet to receive Legends of League recognition. In 2019, Wiki and Jones – both esteemed Kiwi captains and universally admired for their impact on the Australian premiership – joined Mark Graham as the only New Zealanders in the NRL Hall of Fame in 2019.
The outpouring of emotional tributes for 35-Test Kiwi Quentin Pongia from every corner of the rugby league world following his death in 2019 from cancer, aged just 48, reflected the esteem in which he is held in the game. Widely revered as one of the toughest and most durable and uncompromising forwards of any era, the West Coast-bred, Canterbury provincial rep and Canberra Raiders premiership winner was a Kiwis engine-room cornerstone from 1992-2000 and captained New Zealand to Test series glory in Great Britain in 1998.
‘The Beast’ moniker illustrated the powerful impact Kevin Iro had as a blockbusting centre or winger in the Kiwi jersey for more than a decade, and on the British and Australian club scenes for 15 seasons. Aucklander Iro scored 16 tries in 34 Tests from 1987-98 and starred in a host of Challenge Cup final and Super League grand finals with Wigan, Leeds and St Helens.
The remaining four Kiwis Legends of League places went to key figures of the Kiwis’ halcyon 1980s era that featured so many ground-breaking victories.
The ultra-versatile James Leuluai played Tests in four different backline positions – but it is as brilliant, elusive centre that he is chiefly remembered. A breath-taking sidestep and blinding acceleration garnered 14 tries in 29 Tests.
Leuluai also produced some unforgettable Challenge Cup moments at Wembley with Hull FC, where he played alongside Auckland and Kiwis teammate and fellow 2022 Legends of League inductee Dane O’Hara.
Dubbed the ‘Rolls Royce of wingers’, O’Hara was a prolific try-scorer – including 14 touchdowns in a then-record-equalling 36 Test appearances for New Zealand – but was equally revered for his professionalism, dedication and leadership. He captained the Kiwis against Australia in 1980, a rare feat for a winger.
Taranaki hooker Howie Tamati was another vital component of New Zealand’s international rugby league renaissance, playing the last 19 of his 24 Tests for the Kiwis in succession, captaining his country against Papua New Guinea in 1983 and featuring prominently in watershed triumphs over Australia and Great Britain. Tamati, one of the game’s great servants, later coached the Kiwis in 1992-93 and began a long tenure as NZRL President – a post he continues to hold with pride and enthusiasm – in 2013.
Previous inductees such as Scotty McClymont, Lory Blanchard and Ces Mountford enhanced their case for inclusion by coupling esteemed playing careers with outstanding tenures as coach of the Kiwis. But Sir Graham Lowe has broken new Legends of League ground as the first inductee (aside from referee John Percival) without a prominent playing background.
After cutting his teeth at Ellerslie in the 1970s, Lowe became one of the most influential and revolutionary figures in the code’s history in New Zealand. The national team’s outstanding results under Lowe’s tutelage from 1983-86 heralded a turning point for the Kiwis, while his achievements and status as a club coach at Norths Devils, Wigan and Manly Sea Eagles, as well as State of Origin level with Queensland, are virtually unmatched by a New Zealander.
Luisa Avaiki’s inclusion as one of the first four Kiwi Ferns Legends of League was never in doubt. One of just three players to feature in New Zealand’s first three World Cup triumphs, Avaiki was the only 1995 original still playing when the Kiwi Ferns carried off the 2008 title. Meanwhile, the front-row powerhouse’s role as captain of the 2003 and ’08 World Cup successes underline her status as one of women’s rugby league’s finest leaders, and she has gone on to carve out a highly successful career in coaching and development post-playing.
Another 1995 original, Nadene Conlon’s distinguished standing as a women’s rugby league pioneer and long-serving, high-achieving Kiwi Ferns leader is matched only by her towering off-field contributions to the game. The 2000 World Cup-winning co-captain – admired for her tireless performances as a backbone of the Kiwi Ferns’ pack – has spent more than two decades working in rugby league coaching, development, administration and management with Auckland Rugby League, the Warriors and NZRL, while few have done as much to drive women’s rugby league’s progress.
Trish Hina has been described as one of New Zealand’s greatest sportswomen, representing her country in rugby league, rugby union, touch football and softball. But the Wellington five-eighth undoubtedly made her biggest impact in the 13-a-side game. Arguably women’s rugby league’s first genuine superstar, Hina’s Kiwi Ferns tenure spanned 13 years and her linchpin role in three World Cup triumphs included two player of the tournament nods. The record-breaking try-scorer and goalkicker boasted a game-breaking kitbag of skill, vision and pace unmatched among her contemporaries.
Leach Witehira was a prominent figure on New Zealand’s trail-blazing tour of Australia in 1995 and later formed a stellar halves combination with Hina as the Kiwi Ferns won the first two World Cups. Witehira was a prolific try-scorer at international level, a steady playmaking influence and key leader as the Ferns cemented their status as the dominant force in women’s rugby league.
New Zealand Rugby League congratulates the 12 new members of the Legends of League – a richly-deserved honour for some of the Kiwis’ and Kiwi Ferns’ best ever.
2022 NZRL LEGENDS OF LEAGUE INDUCTEES
Sir Graham Lowe
June 24, 2022 – Selling out Mount Smart Stadium for tomorrow’s international doubleheader is a watershed moment for New Zealand rugby league.
It was announced this morning that more than 26,000 tickets have been sold for the back-to-back Tests for the Kiwi Ferns and the New Zealand Kiwis against Mate Ma’a Tonga.
It has now been confirmed it will be the first time the Kiwis will play in front of a capacity crowd since the 1988 Rugby League World Cup final at Auckland’s Eden Park.
That match was a 47,363 sell-out, the biggest crowd in New Zealand Rugby League history.
“The fact this is the first time we’ve sold out a stadium in close to 34 years underlines just how significant this occasion is, even more so because it’s not a World Cup or Four Nations final,” said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.
“It’s a further sign of how much it means to the public to have international rugby league back in New Zealand after such a long break due to the Covid pandemic.”
While there have been big crowds for internationals since 1988, none have sold out until now.
A near capacity crowd of 24,041 attended the 2017 Rugby League World Cup pool match between the Kiwis and Mate Ma’a Tonga at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium.
And Eden Park drew a crowd of 44,324 for the 2010 Four Nations doubleheader featuring the Kiwis against the Kangaroos and England against Papua New Guinea.
30 May 2022
The Southern Zone Rugby League (SZRL) encompasses the whole of Te Waipounamu. As a Zone of New Zealand Rugby League, SZRL is responsible for the growth and development of rugby league alongside the districts and clubs in Te Waipounamu.
Since 2010, the SZRL has actively supported its clubs and districts to increase game participation by creating a positive environment for players, officials, volunteers, and whānau alike. Driven by our vision: to create stronger more connected communities, and with our core values of courage, inclusiveness, respect, passion, and dedication, the Southern Zone is focused on making a positive difference to communities all over Te Waipounamu.
After more than 12 successful years at the helm, the incumbent General Manager has decided to embark on a new adventure. Our Zone is therefore seeking a new energetic and engaging leader who can positively build on the strong structural and financial base that has been established.
Reporting to the Southern Zone Board of Directors, you will be a strategic and commercially astute leader, taking overall responsibility for all the activities of SZRL, in line with its strategic, community, and financial goals. Understanding the dynamics of sport and a relevant tertiary qualification are highly desirable, however superior communication skills with a track record of fostering stakeholder engagement and building relationships with the ability to relate at all levels of the community will be essential.
To provide the level of leadership necessary to be successful in this role, the General Manager will possess the following attributes:
If you possess the qualities, passion, and drive required to lead the SZRL in its path forward and want to make the most of this significant and exciting opportunity, please apply by sending a CV and covering letter to email@example.com.
A Position Description for the role is available on request or by going to the Southern Zone website www.sporty.co.nz/sirl
Applications close 5pm Monday 20th June 2022
May 25, 2022
Former New South Wales Women’s Origin assistant Milton Dymock has been appointed Head Coach of the Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s side. He is partnered by former NRL and Mate Ma’a Tonga players Jim Dymock and Andrew Emelio.
Milton Dymock is a well-regarded coach and has plenty of experience in the women’s game. He served as an assistant for the NSW Women’s Origin side in 2019 and 2020 helping them to a victory in his first year. Milton has also coached in the Tarsha Gale Cup as South’s Head Coach from 2017 to 2018 and as an assistant in 2019 for the Sydney Roosters. Dymock has coached the NSW Tongan juniors since 2006 whilst also being appointed by many clubs to assist in defensive training, notably the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and St Helens.
Milton is joined by assistant coaches, brother Jim Dymock and former Tongan representative Andrew Emelio, who are respected in the modern game.
Jim Dymock has represented Mate Ma’a Tonga as a player (1994-95) and a coach (2006-08) and played 200 games in the NRL and 95 in the Super League. Dymock has also served as Head Coach for the Bulldogs (2011) and an assistant coach at the Roosters, Sharks, and aforementioned Bulldogs. He is currently working as the assistant coach of the Gold Coast Titans.
Emelio also enjoyed success professionally, representing Tonga six times and playing 53 games between the NRL and Super League. Emelio represented Mate Ma’a Tonga in the 2008 World Cup Squad and brings valuable experience to the Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s backline.
Dymock spoke on his newly appointed role, “I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the Women’s game for a few years, and I am truly honoured to be a part of this Women’s Mate Ma’a Tonga side. We have a talented side and staff, and we hope to pass on our experience to make this campaign memorable.”
Also involved in the coaching staff is Dion Briggs, who led the women’s side as they ran out 66-8 winners over Niue in 2020. Briggs brings experience and rapport with the New Zealand based players and adds valuable insight and direction to the women’s outfit.
Briggs had this to say, “It is an excellent opportunity for Tongan players based in Aotearoa to showcase their talent on the big stage. It doesn’t get much bigger than a game against the Kiwi Ferns.”
“I am looking forward to this campaign and believe we are setting a strong foundation moving ahead to the 2025 Rugby League World Cup.”
The Tongan women last played in their 2020 test against Niue and have not run out against the Kiwi Ferns since 2008, where they were defeated 42-4 by the eventual World Champions.
The Mate Ma’a Tonga Women’s team will be selected from the best available players across Australia and New Zealand, kickstarting their campaign towards a 2025 world cup appearance.
Tickets to see Mate Ma’a Tonga Women take on the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns are available from TicketMaster. Watch all the action live from Mt Smart Stadium or on Sky Sport in a matchup worthy of the wait!
23rd May 2022
Prior to 2012, no student from Tokoroa High School’s first XIII Rugby League team had gone on to tertiary education. Principal William Ford and daughter Tairi decided to prioritise their efforts in changing this, initiating the SUP3 (Supported academic learning) programme, which focused on creating a pathway for students to transition into education past high school. Since then, multiple rugby league starlets have gone on to university and tertiary courses and in recent years Ford and his staff have opened the programme up to the broader year 13 cohort.
After working with the Warriors, Tairi Ford returned to Tokoroa in 2018 to upstart the SUP3 programme, which focuses on three specialised subjects that would grant students university entrance (UE). Students had three domain classes with specialist teachers, where students could receive their UE and NCEA level 13 qualifications while being managed by Ford.
Tairi has been directing the programme for multiple years and has watched it grow from 14 young rugby league players to over 70 year 13 students.
“We used Rugby League as the hook. We knew our rangatahi loved the game, so we coupled their education directly to their ability to play for the school team.” Ford said.
“My father birthed the programme”, Tairi added, talking about Principal William Ford. “He wanted to invest more into the care and wellness of our young people.”
“Many of our boys have not experienced much outside of Tokoroa, and even less have experienced a higher form of education. So, we wanted to give our youth the best chance to do that.”
Former students of Tokoroa High School have gone on to study Medical Science at Otago, Law at Waikato University, and the fullback of the 2016 Tokoroa side has also returned, working as a physiotherapist in the blue-collar town.
Tokoroa High School Principal and former Kiwi’s trainer William Ford had this to say.
“Rugby league is a big part of the community here in Tokoroa. Most of our rangatahi are connected to either the Pacific Sharks or Forestland Falcon’s rugby league clubs which are influential hubs in our region.”
“As a school, we wanted to emphasise the importance of tertiary education and showcase there is more to life than just the labour than just the mill. Rugby League gave us an avenue to do that.”
ABOUT NEW ZEALAND RUGBY LEAGUE:
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand.
NZRL is divided into seven zones that service the grassroots needs of the game.These zones compete in the National Premiership/Championship, as well as women’s, youth and schools’ competitions. NZRL manages the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns who play regular international fixtures and compete in the Rugby League World Cup every four years.
Through its “More Than A Game” philosophy, NZRL aspires to transform lives and community wellbeing through Rugby League.
Underpinning this philosophy is The Kiwi Way. We are diverse, we call New Zealand home and therefore we are all Kiwis. We live and play The Kiwi Way – all day/every day:
The Football Operations Assistant is tasked with assisting in the planning, administration, and delivery of all NZRL tournaments, competitions and events. The NZRL Football & High-Performance department is connected to, and works with, all areas of the organisation, and the wider rugby league community, hence the requirement for a motivated team performer who can also work independently.
SPECIFIC DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
PLANNING AND REPORTING
GENERAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
SKILLS, EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION
Applications close on Wednesday 23 February
CLICK HERE TO APPLY
1 February 2022 as seen on https://amp.nine.com.au
Georgia Hale is expecting fireworks from the entire NRLW competition come February 27.
With the last elite women’s match over 15 months ago and three new teams – including the Titans – ready and raring for the big stage, the three-season campaigner believes the long hiatus has ignited the motivational flame among the playing groups.
“I’m expecting everybody to be coming out with a bit of a hiss and a roar,” former Warrior Hale said.
“Having missed footy, I can imagine everyone gunning for it, which is exciting because I think this is what the NRLW has kind of been missing. We haven’t had such long stints away from the game.
“I think there will be a bit more fire in the belly for everyone to be returning and returning in good shape, hungry to not only take the field but some success again on the footy field.”
Joining the Gold Coast as one of the club’s marquee players, the Kiwi Ferns International is relishing her time in Queensland after crossing the ditch in March 2020, continuing to grow under a different female pathways system Australia has to what she’s experienced in the past.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Aussie so far and it’s been really good,” Hale said.
“I’m very used to how we do things back home in New Zealand coming through the system, especially from a grassroots system to our international Kiwi Ferns side, so it’s been really nice to connect with players, coaches, and staff on the side to see how the game operates over here within the women’s space.
“I’ve learnt heaps from players I get to take the field with and also coaches we are currently training under, so it’s been a great experience so far and I look forward to more.”
Always seen with a smile on her face at pre-season training, the Titans enforcer has been leading the charge with setting the team’s morale, inspired by having the squad reunite after the long wait for the club’s debut season following its postponement due to COVID-19.
“Energy is one of the words that’s thrown around the Titans club so it’s great we’re bringing it to training so far,” Hale said.
“There’s great energy. The girls are just fizzing and bubbling to be back really.
“Just to be back on the paddock and back in the gym lifting some weights. I think what we’ve missed the most is – well we’ve all been training but it’s doing it together – it’s that unity, the connection within the group, so it’s been really nice to be sweating next to each other and getting to work.
“Even on the tougher days, training isn’t easy, but it’s much easier when you’re doing it alongside your mates.”
As one of the side’s senior leaders, the 26-year-old said the healthy mix of youth and experience is a huge strength given every player has something to offer.
“We definitely have a young squad but there are a few older girls within the group. That’s going to be the difference within our team looking at the others within the campaign,” Hale said.
“[Our aim is to] bridge the gap between our youth and senior players, regardless or whether you’re 18 or 38 – everyone has got something to contribute to the side.
“For me personally, I’m going to keep leading by example doing my thing and getting around the girls as much as possible.”
As Round 1 approaches, so does the mighty Macca’s NRLW local derby, which will also happen to be first-ever game at home for the newest women’s team in Queensland.
And the clash will be special for Hale for a number of reasons, who didn’t understand the hype around the fierce rivalry between the Titans and Broncos until she arrived in the sunshine state.
“There’s a special feeling when you go to Cbus. There’s a really nice presence so I’m really looking forward to taking the field for that game,” Hale said.
“It’ll be Titans versus the Warriors which is my old club, so there will be a bit of excitement around that for the men’s, and then for us to set the tone for the day, coming up against the Broncos, they’re definitely a team most NRLW sides will put their hand up and say they’re looking forward to.
“The Queensland clash… I didn’t know much about it till I touched base here on the Gold Coast, but I really do hope our Gold Coast girls get up on the day.
“It’ll be an exciting game day for us all.”
19 January 2022 as seen on https://amp.nine.com.au
Newcastle rookie Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly gets asked the same question all the time.
With one of the more unique names in rugby league, the fresh-faced rookie from New Zealand offers a grin when asked if there is any meaning behind her name.
“People always ask if was I born in Autumn and if it was raining and I laugh because it was actually in winter and not raining,” Stephens-Daly tells NRL.com.
“Originally my dad just wanted to call me Rain but mum said no. When I was born she was watching TV in the hospital and on the news there was the topic of autism being discussed.
“She got the idea of Autumn from there and my dad said we’ll call her Autumn-Rain and they agreed on that.
“My last name is just both my parents’ surnames so it is a bit random. It’s not usually what people expect when I tell them.”
Stephens-Daly may have to get used to telling people her story more often with the former New Zealand rugby sevens player one of the most exciting rookies to watch in 2022.
Born in Rotorua, the 25-year-old is among a rare group of players who have represented their country before an NRLW club after she starred for the Kiwi Ferns on debut in 2020.
“I was in Japan contracted for sevens but a couple of years earlier my uncle asked me to play in a national Maori tournament,” Stephens-Daly said.
“I didn’t know the rules of rugby league but really enjoyed it so last year was the first time I had a lot of time dedicated to the code.
“I want to have a good crack at everything now with the All-Stars, NRLW, and World Cup at the end of the year.”
Stephens-Daly arrives at Newcastle alongside eight of her Kiwi Ferns teammates for the club’s inaugural campaign including possible halves partner Charntay Poko.
After starting her short journey in the game as a winger or fullback, Stephens-Daly wants to continue to build on her craft as a playmaker.
“There are a lot more skills I need to learn in the halves but it’s been a good learning curve, I’m enjoying that position,” she said.
“It feels like I’ve jumped from the bottom to the top playing for New Zealand but with the NRLW it’s a seven-week competition so that will test the kind of player I am.
“I’m just looking forward to playing for the Knights, they’ve looked after us, from when we were there during the pandemic to now.
“I want to give back to the club by playing my best.”
Stephens-Daly was named in an extended New Zealand Maori All-Stars squad last year and remains in the mix for a debut on February 12.
19 January 2022 as seen on https://amp.nine.com.au
The Raiders have signed former NZ National 20s and U16s playmaker, Stanley Iongi, who could be the answer to the club’s long-term hooking dilemma.
With question marks over the Raiders’ two first-choice hookers, Josh Hodgson and Tom Starling, the club has pounced on the Kiwi youngster Stanley Iongi.
Now 19, Iongi actually signed with Melbourne feeder club Brisbane Tigers late last year.
But when he was approached by the Raiders last week, Iongi’s manager Dixon McIver asked the Tigers for a release.
“They were great about it,” McIver told Wide World of Sports.
“They wanted Stanley in their club but they recognised he had a much better opportunity at Canberra and let him go – I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
Iongi will start the new season in the SG Ball but will be closely monitored by the Raiders’ coach Ricky Stuart.
With Hodgson’s future the subject of constant speculation and Starling having off-field issues, the youngster could be the future Raiders’ number nine.
“He is a real goer in the Brandon Smith mould – Canberra have got themselves a great kid,” McIver said.
National 20s Ruben Wiki Cup Competition kicks off Saturday, March 12th, with the final taking place over Easter weekend.
28th October, 2021
as seen on Stuff.co.nz
When Mike Lemalie removes his 30 kilogram weighted vest and dives into the ocean at Stirling Point in Bluff on October 30, it will be more than just sore legs and blisters he is hoping to heal.
A member of the Southland Rugby League community, Lemalie will be walking 60 kilometres in gumboots from Bluff to Invercargill return, with the last 4km through the Bluff township in a weighted vest, to raise money for youth mental health services through Gumboot Friday.
Lemalie spent several years as a player/coach for Bluff Rugby League Club, which included winning three competitions in a row finishing the 2009 season undefeated.
It’s a cause that is deeply personal for Lemalie. His son died by suicide in December 2016.
“The motivation behind the weighted vest is just walking through Bluff with all the heavy weight and burden of all the kids we’ve got down here, and just walking to the point, and washing it away with the water,” he said.
Since his son’s death, he had been actively assisting youth in Bluff to open up and get help through counselling services, which he believed should be free and available to all youth in New Zealand.
“Kids need to be able to open up and talk, we can’t help them if they don’t open up. At my son’s funeral I said that to all his friends, and they took me up on it…. It’s just being an ear, I don’t have all the answers, and if I don’t have the answers I try and get them. And that’s how Caroline Loo [From the Invercargill Loss and Grief centre] helped at the start,” he said.
“I first started going to the counselling sessions with some of the kids, and I still use her as a point of contact for some of them. It’s good, one kid has got his life back on track, and he’s doing really good with his sports, that’s one of the main goals we’ve talked about, to get back to sports.”
He decided to complete the walk when Gumboot Friday founder Mike King announced earlier this year that the Ministry of Health had rejected his request for funding to provide free counselling for young people.
“Originally it was just supposed to be to Invercargill, but I thought ‘I live in Bluff, so why not walk home’.”
The tight-knit community of Bluff had whole-heartedly supported the effort, and many people had been in contact to volunteer their time.
His work colleagues at Sanford had already ordered 40 hi-vis vests in anticipation of the amount of people that would be walking the route alongside Lemalie.
So far, he has received more than $4000 in donations.
Data released by the Office of the Chief Coroner on Monday, revealed there were 44 cases of suspected suicide in Southland and Otago in 2020, down from 47 cases in 2019.
The rate of death by suspected suicide per 100,000 people in Southland and Otago was 11.7, slightly higher than the national rate of 11.3.
Able Minds chief executive Sarah Dowie said the fact the number of suspected suicides had fallen by just 21 was a confronting reminder that more work needed to be done to address mental health issues.
Lemalie began his rugby league journey in 1992, joining his local club the Wainuiomata Lions from u12’s to u18’s. Mike developed his love for the game in these adolescent years
He spent years in Gisborne and returned to Lower Hutt to play for St Bernard’s College. Lemalie left the game for a few years but his passion did not disappear, rearing to strap on the boots again Mike returned six years later in 2003 playing for Southland club, Bluff.
In 2006, Lemalie represented Cooks Rugby League and then returned to Bluff as a player coach till 2009.
Mike has been a representative for the Southland Senior Men’s as both a player and a coach, whilst also coaching both the u15 and u17 Southland teams at the NZRL Youth Tournament.
Currently Lemalie works in the Southland district controlling senior games and also delving into its junior competition.
WHERE TO GET HELP
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or online chat
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
thelowdown.co.nz – or email email@example.com or free text 5626
Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825
14 October 2021
Our oldest living Kiwi #341, 98-year-old Raymond James Cranch, 1951-52 Kiwis tourist, former Auckland prop/second-rower and one of rugby league’s most beloved figures has sadly passed away.
Cranch, 98, was New Zealand’s oldest surviving Kiwi. And by virtually every account of anyone who knows the genial stalwart, he’d be a guaranteed starter in a hypothetical grand final of the game’s friendliest people.
Cutting his teeth in rugby league with the Parnell-based Akarana club as a 13-year-old in 1936, Cranch joined Mt Albert the following season and became one of that club’s greatest servants.
Cranch went on to serve in WWII, training in Maadi in Egypt and fighting in Montecassino in Italy. He received a Year of the Veteran Certificate of Appreciation for his Service given to New Zealand during World War II by the Rt Honourable Prime Minister Helen Clark.
On his return, Ray helped Mt Albert to Fox Memorial success in 1947 and scored a try against NSWRL grand final winners Balmain in an ‘Australasian’ showdown of club champions.
Cranch became an Auckland representative regular (and captain in 1950), starring in the province’s 1948 win over the Kiwis, who had just returned from a gruelling tour of Britain and France. Three years later, he received the opportunity to make a Northern Hemisphere trip of his own, selected in the 1951-52 Kiwis squad.
The presence of indomitable front-row pairing Cliff Johnson and Bill McLennan, crack second-row duo Frank Mulcare and Charlie McBride, and outstanding Canterbury lock Alistair Atkinson kept Cranch out of the Test side – with the quintet playing all five internationals against Great Britain and France – but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless.
“They were just coming off wartime food rationing, and there was not much good meat around,” Cranch told revered New Zealand journalist, author and historian John Coffey.
“Only the team that was playing the next game got the good stuff. The midweek players, the ‘ham and eggers’, got the rest. We played the continuous tackle rule, and the English teams would keep the ball for 10, even 20, minutes.”
Mediocre nourishment and dour football notwithstanding, the tour produced the customary off-field shenanigans for Cranch and his teammates.
“I remember Cyril Eastlake and Andy Berryman, with napkins on their heads, doing their doctor and nurse act performing surgery on a banana. It was hilarious,” Cranch recalled.
“Over in France, we were travelling down a long narrow road with poplar trees on both sides when (co-manager) Dave Wilkie popped up and asked, ‘Where’s Henry’ (Des White)? He was missing. We had to go another five miles before we could turn the old bus around.
“Going back the other way, we met up with a taxi and Whitey hopped out. He had slept in. When he went down to the hotel reception the girl said, ‘Kiwis are gone’. Des didn’t know any French but he managed to get a taxi and set off after us.”
An elbow injury suffered during the French leg cut Cranch’s tour short and provided him with ongoing problems, but he played on until 1954 before hanging up the boots.
Cranch could then begin the next and most enduring chapter of his rugby league story, moving into administration. He was made chairman of the Auckland Schoolboys Rugby League board of control in 1960 and managed the first New Zealand Schoolboys team on their tour of Australia four years later. Roles with the ARL senior board of control and as manager of the 1973 New Zealand Colts, again touring Australia, followed for the ever-popular Cranch.
“Mt Albert said they would like to nominate me for the Auckland schoolboy board of control. I felt I should put something back into the game, and that’s where it all started,” he said modestly.
An Aucklander and Kiwi through and through, Cranch’s genial nature meant that he wasn’t averse to helping out the ‘enemy’ on the odd occasion.
When the great Australian forward Dick Thornett appeared for Auckland as a guest player in a match against New Zealand in 1969 to mark the NZRL’s diamond jubilee, his boots were ruined after leaving them in the Carlaw Park boiler room to dry.
Requiring size 13 boots, Thornett was in a jam until Cranch, who worked in the footwear industry, came to the rescue with a new pair.
Cranch’s selflessness and enthusiasm to take on roles with rugby league is legendary.
Secretary-manager for the Auckland Leagues Club for more than 20 years, Cranch later served as president and was made a life member. He was a long-serving selector and manager of Auckland teams, filled gaps on judicial committees and worked with referees.
Away from his first sporting love, Cranch also played softball and was involved with the Piha Surf Life Saving Club.
An Auckland Rugby League life member, Cranch received his NZRL life membership in 2003 and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Ray Cranch will forever live on as one of rugby league’s most admirable servants, a proud Kiwi and a selfless hero, who, if you ever had the privilege of meeting, would have made an everlasting and memorable impact.
May you rest in peace Ray, thank you for your years of love and service to our great game.
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.” Ray Cranch, 2021
“One of the greatest things in my life, to be chosen for the Kiwis, it’s the best game in the world.”
07 October 2021
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup Wider Squad.
Despite the absence of international football over the last two years, 2022 will be the busiest international calendar in recent time, as NZRL work towards a June Pacific Test and Trans-Tasman clash, all before the October 2022 World Cup campaign.
After his impressive club season, Premiership-winning Panther and Dally M Prop of the Year, James Fisher-Harris unsurprisingly made the list, as did Dally M Backrower of the Year and Eels’ golden buy, Isaiah Papali’i. Papali’i is joined by fellow Parramatta playmakers Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.
Star Rooster’s centre Joey Manu had one of his best seasons with 12 line breaks, ten tries and 141 metres per game. He joins veteran Kiwi prop and Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who made 1280 post-contact metres in 23 appearances for 2021.
Melbourne’s Reimis Smith locked in his selection with 14 tries this year, as he joins a plethora of Kiwi Storm talent, including standout half Jahrome Hughes, who was instrumental in a well-oiled Melbourne side that ran rampant throughout 2021.
Corey Harawira-Naera returns after a dominant performance in his first full season at Canberra, and departing Shark Shaun Johnson is joined by Cronulla teammates Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Briton Nikora.
Fresh names to join the frame include Bronco’s back-rower and former Junior Kiwis captain Jordan Riki, who enters the squad after a solid debut season. Titan’s Hooker and former Manurewa Marlin Erin Clark gets the call up alongside dynamic youngster Josh Schuster and Waikato born Morgan Harper after a breakthrough seasons with Manly.
“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team”, says Head Coach Michael Maguire.
“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”
The 2021 season saw many Kiwi eligible players stamp their mark on the NRL, encouraging selectors to name a ‘Notable Players’ list that Head Coach Maguire has deemed “the future of the Kiwis team.”
“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team,” says Maguire.
“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.
“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”
06 October 2021
Fighting through tears, an emotional Benji Marshall has called time on one of the most memorable careers of the modern era.
After 346 NRL games (the most of any Kiwi), 19 seasons, 31 Tests for New Zealand, four clubs, five shoulder reconstructions, a couple of last hurrahs, one title and a famous flick pass that spoke to hundreds of equally audacious plays, Marshall is officially done – morphing him from a teen pin-up to elder statesman.
The 36-year-old confirmed his retirement on Wednesday afternoon on the Gold Coast, 10 minutes from the Keebra Park High School stomping ground where those twinkling toes first came to rugby league’s attention.
“I feel privileged and honoured with what the game has given me and the life it has given me. I want to thank the NRL for letting me be part of this great game,” he said.
“I would’ve been retired seven years ago if it wasn’t for Wayne giving me the opportunity at Brisbane.
“I started as just a young kid from Whakatane who was chasing his dreams and will leave as a better man who reached those dreams. I cannot thank rugby league enough for everything it has given me.
“I am extremely proud of my career. I’m proud of the longevity of playing 19 seasons, proud of winning a premiership, proud to represent my country and to win a World Cup, and I’m proud of winning a Golden Boot too.
“But the thing of which I’m most proud is the countless times I have had to pick myself up and fight back from the many setbacks that were thrown at me throughout my career.”
A unique attacking talent whose arrival electrified the NRL and international scenes, Benji Marshall spearheaded some of New Zealand’s greatest Test triumphs from five-eighth and enjoyed a four-season stint as skipper.
Marshall later broke the Kiwis record for most Tests as captain (21) and equalled the mark for the longest Test career span (15 seasons) after memorably ending a seven-year hiatus from the national side in 2019.
The Whakatane-born touch rugby prodigy took up a rugby league scholarship with Keebra Park State High at the age 16 after starring in an impromptu trial appearance while on a school excursion to the Gold Coast.
The sliding doors opportunity would have an enormous impact on the code on both sides of the Tasman. An 18-year-old Marshall represented Australian Schoolboys and made his NRL debut for Wests Tigers – who were linked to Keebra Park – in 2003.
Marshall’s mesmerising footwork, speed and instinctive ball-playing caught the public’s imagination from the outset, but a shoulder injury cut his 2004 season short after just seven first-grade appearances.
But everything came together in 2005. After a sizzling start to the year with the Tigers – and still with only 15 NRL games under his belt – Marshall was called up to New Zealand’s Anzac Test squad. The 20-year-old’s eye-catching display was hailed as the biggest positive of the Kiwis’ 32-16 loss in Brisbane.
Marshall then set about compiling an astonishing highlights package in steering the unheralded Tigers to their first finals series and an unlikely premiership triumph. The hot-stepping No.6 scored 15 tries in 27 games, while he produced one of the most iconic moments in grand final history in the 32-16 defeat of North Queensland with a long break and an audacious flick pass to set up Pat Richards’ try.
Shoulder surgery ruled Marshall out of the Kiwis’ victorious Tri-Nations tour at the end of ’05, but he was selected on the bench for the 2006 Anzac Test despite a fractured cheekbone and dislocated shoulder disrupting the start of his NRL season. Genuine concerns emerged about Marshall’s future, though, after ongoing shoulder problems ended his 2006 campaign in June and caused him to miss half of 2007. He was unavailable for New Zealand’s end-of-year international series in both years.
The Kiwis boasted two of rugby league’s most dynamic young superstars in Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams but ultimately the pair lined up together just twice – in the 2006-07 Anzac Tests, with Marshall featuring at five-eighth in the latter. He was again absent for the 2008 Centenary Test against Australia at the SCG through injury but recovered to play in the Tigers’ last 16 games of the season.
Marshall scored two tries in a World Cup warm-up Test against Tonga and started all five of the Kiwis’ matches at the Australia-hosted tournament. He scored a match-sealing try in the 32-22 semi-final victory over England, before playing a leading hand in the 34-20 boilover against the Kangaroos in the Brisbane final. Marshall’s burst and offload set up a fortuitous first-half try for Jerome Ropati, he was on hand to scoop up Australian fullback Billy Slater’s errant pass and score a pivotal four-pointer after the break, his bomb led to Adam Blair’s late clincher and he booted two goals.
The Kiwis installed Marshall as their new captain in 2009. The early-season loss to Australia in Brisbane was to be the first of 18 straight appearances as Test skipper, leading New Zealand on its Four Nations tour of England and France at the end of the year.
Fourth in the 2010 Dally M Medal count as the Tigers returned to the playoffs for the first time since their grand final success, Marshall subsequently enjoyed arguably his finest hour on the international stage. He scored a try and kicked four goals in the Four Nations-opening win over England in Wellington, booted another eight goals in a heavy defeat of Papua New Guinea in Rotorua and brilliantly set up two tries in a late comeback as well as slotting four goals in a loss to Australia at Eden Park.
But Marshall almost singlehandedly lifted his side to a 16-12 triumph over the Kangaroos in the final as the Kiwis again reigned at Suncorp Stadium. He put Shaun Kenny-Dowall over for New Zealand’s only try of the first half, cut the deficit to two points via a breath-taking grubber for Jason Nightingale to score, and produced two magnificent touches in the extraordinary 65-metre match-winner finished off by Nathan Fien in the 79th minute. Marshall capped a banner year by becoming just the third New Zealander to win the Golden Boot award.
Marshall was named Dally M Five-eighth of the Year in 2011, took out his second RLIF Five-eighth of the Year honour (a gong he also collected in 2009) and was named the Kiwis’ Player of the Year, but five Tests garnered just one win – against Wales during the Four Nations. He led the Kiwis in both matches of a minimised 2012 schedule: Tests losses to Australia in April and October by eight-point margins.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney announced in February 2013 that Marshall would no longer be captain, while an injury ruled him out of contention for the Canberra clash with the Kangaroos two months later – ending a run of 24 straight Tests. Meanwhile, his relationship with Wests Tigers unravelled and he sought a release to join the Blues Super Rugby franchise. It was a sad conclusion to a decade-long tenure with the Tigers that saw him become the first player to bring up 1,000 points and the third to make 200 appearances for the joint venture. The code switch also quashed any prospect of Marshall being picked in New Zealand’s RLWC squad.
The 29-year-old was back in the NRL with St George Illawarra by May 2014. He finished equal-second in the Dally M Medal count as the Dragons reached the finals in 2015.
After an impressive season as a back-up half/utility under Wayne Bennett at the Broncos in 2017, Marshall accepted a deal to return to the Tigers. He had lost a yard or two of pace and the mind-blowing attacking wizardry was less frequent, but the veteran’s calm leadership and direction was invaluable for a rebuilding club.
Unlucky not to get a call-up in 2018, the 34-year-old was named by Tigers and Kiwis coach Michael Maguire for the 2019 mid-season Test against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium. Marshall’s outpouring of emotion during the New Zealand national anthem was the indelible memory of the match, but he was also a strong performer at halfback in the 34-14 win.
Marshall – who also became just the fourth New Zealander to play over 300 NRL games during 2019 – rounded off a remarkable renaissance by being named Kiwis captain at the end of the season for the Tests against Australia and Great Britain. The third-oldest Kiwis player in history, he broke Gary Freeman’s record for most Tests as New Zealand skipper and equalled Kurt Sorensen (1975-89) for the longest Test career span.
Date of Birth: 25 February 1985Place of Birth: Whakatane, NZPosition: Five-eighth/HalfbackHeight: 183cmWeight: 92kgJunior Club: Keebra ParkClubs: Rabbitohs (2021); Tigers (2003-13, 2018-20); Broncos (2017); Dragons (2014-16); Auckland Blues RU (2014)NRL Games: 346 (22 for the Rabbitohs, 257 for the Tigers, 54 for the Dragons and 13 for the Broncos. Also played six Super Rugby matches for Auckland Blues RU)NRL Points: 1232 (from 12 points for the Rabbitohs [three tries], 1181 points for Tigers [84 tries, 416 goals, 13 field goals], 35 points for Dragons [eight tries and three field goals] and four points for Broncos [from one try]. Also scored ten points for Auckland Blues RU from one try, one conversion and one penalty goal)NRL Debut: Tigers vs Knights, Campbelltown Stadium, 27 July 2003 (Rd 20)
NRL Premierships: One (2005 – Tigers)Rep Honours: 31 Tests for New Zealand (2005-19); World Cup (2008-champions); Four Nations (2009-11); four games for NRL All Stars (2010-13); one game for Maori All Stars (2021)Awards and Honours: 21 Tests as New Zealand captain (2009-19); NRL most capped New Zealand-born player of all-time (346 games); Golden Boot (2010); Dally M Five-eighth of the Year (2011); RLIF Five-eighth of the Year (2009, 2011); Inducted as a Life Member of Wests Tigers (2013); Wests Tigers player #70; Brisbane Broncos player #226; St George Illawarra Dragons player #181; South Sydney Rabbitohs player #1167; New Zealand Kiwis player #717
Pirtek’s prestigious Volunteer of the Month is given to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way, which are being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful and humble.
We are excited to announce that September’s Pirtek Volunteer of the Month is Cindy Petero.
Cindy Petero has served the Tokoroa Pacific Sharks for numerous years. She is currently the Junior coordinator of the club, investing in creating an environment for rangatahi to enjoy the game of rugby league.
Petero, along with her four children, are always the first to the field on a Saturday morning. They set up goal posts, sidelines, and events for the day and stay behind to ensure all the equipment is packed up and the grounds are clean from rubbish when the games are over.
The solo mother has two sons that she regularly takes to trainings and games while also finding the time to make sure the Mini-mode grades at the club do not go without.
On top of her responsibilities, Petero also works as the Bay of Plenty mini-mod convener. She organises competitions for clubs all over the district and manages the Bay of Plenty U15s. She shows every day she will do anything she can to ensure rugby league thrives in her region.
Chris Bourke, CEO of Pirtek, stated, “The Tokoroa Pacific Sharks have an exceptional volunteer with Cindy Petero. She is amazing in tackling all sorts of tasks at this great club.”“Cindy, as the clubs Junior Co-ordinator, goes over and above to ensure the young players have a great rugby league experience. Along with Cindy’s personal commitments and family matters, she selflessly gives up her time to enable others in her region to enjoy the great game.”
“Volunteers are essential for this great sport, and Cindy is certainly a very deserving winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the month for September.”
Volunteers will be chosen based off how well they demonstrate our Kiwi Way values:
We are family first – stronger together.
Innovative and Courageous – punch above our weight.
We are responsible.
We are inclusive, respectful and humble.
Each winner receives $200 worth of vouchers.
Sosaia Alatini scored the opening try of the Youth Competition for the South Island Scorpions. The Scorpions domination of the match continued with tries from Cairo Rangihuna-Ruri, Aston Wilson, Dakota Kakoi, And Meihana Pauling in the first half alone. The second half saw the Scorpions with a lead of 30 points to nill. Rangihuna-Ruri opened the half with his second try, followed by the Wellington Orcas first try of the match by Caleb Carroll. Scorpions came back again with tries from Zeke Faga-Leti and a hattrick for Rangihuna-Ruri. The final score was 42 – 6 to the South Island Scorpions.
It was the 18s turn to take the field in a much closer match-up compared to their 16s counterparts. The first few minutes of the match saw George Teo take first points for the Wellington Orcas 18s followed by a return from the South Island Scorpions 18s number two Jayton Lawrie. Jordan Chapman scored two tries, Teo scored his second to pull out into an early lead. Scorpions answered back with tries of their own from Caleb Murphy, Martino Boi, and Arlan Perez going into an even 20 – 20 half-time. Scorpions open the scoring in the second half with tries to Oliver Lawry and a second for Perez. Wellington’s Simeona Saumolia scored his first and George Teo scored his hat trick close to the end of the match. The Scorpions though too strong for the Orcas closing out the match with a try fromNgaheke Nepata. The final score 38 – 28.
On day 2, the hosts Mid Central Vipers 16s take the win over the Upper Central Stallions 16s 28 -12.
Upper Central Stallions 18s avenge the 16s team loss with a 48 – 12 win over the Mid Central Vipers 18s.
NZRL Resident Secondary School Girls & 18’s Resident Girls School Coaching positions are open!
We’re on the hunt for a Head and Asst Coach, Trainer and Manager.
For how to apply and more info on each position, please visit the below links –
As seen on ABS.CBN News (https://news.abs-cbn.com/sports/08/20/21/pinoy-rugby-players-mula-ph-at-nz-nagsanib-puwersa)
26th August, 2021
Counties-Manukau Rugby League has been delivering the game to its Asian community since 2013, creating opportunities and pathways for participants not usually renowned for playing rugby league.
The Ethnic competition and encouraging diversity in the game have always been priorities for Counties-Manukau; therefore the affiliation between Pambansang Ragbi Liga Ng Pilipinasand Auckland based rugby league team, United Eagles, was a natural fit.
The Eagles are the first all-Asian based rugby league team endorsed by Counties Manukau Rugby League (CMRL) and the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) to compete in Auckland’s Ethnic Cup competition. The team comprises 70% Filipino players with a mix of other players from Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong.
The Ethnic Rugby League Competition was established in 2013 by NZRL’s Counties Manukau Rugby League General Manager Kasey King. The competition currently accommodates the following teams, the Counties Manukau Piranhas, Auckland Wasps, Onehunga Guardianz, the Eagles, and the Dragons. It comprises groups of ethnicities, mainly from New Zealand’s increasing Asian community not renowned for playing rugby league. The players gain valuable rugby league experience through the competition each year, leading to players being selected to represent their country of origin through international matches.
The PNRL have longed to establish a partnership with the Eagles for some time now, with talks over the past week confirming the interest on both sides. With this affiliation, the PNRL will assist in expanding the reach of rugby league to the New Zealand based Filipino players and increase Filipino participation in the six-week Ethnic Cup competition held yearly. The affiliation will also provide pathway opportunities for players to represent the Philippines at a developmental or national level and provide access to national development programs.
Ex-Tamaraw player Odyssey Laderas and current player Carmilo Manuyag (Head Coach of Eagles) have been actively working with Asian based NZ players of all levels to provide a safe pathway for player representation into the Ethnic Cup competition. Carmilo has also been the team’s driving force from the start, with a clear vision of where this group could go. He also ensured the transition from Eagles to Dragons to keep the reputational name of Eagles for future use as we had family sabbaticals during this time. The PNRL will work closely with the pair to help increase their overall participation numbers with the goal of entering more development teams into the Ethnic Cup competition each year.
“The affiliation with the Philippines governing body for the sport of Rugby League (PNRL) will provide pathways for rugby league development and participation of NZ based Filipinos. This will also ensure a healthy, active club and international membership. Built on family and brotherhood as its foundation, we encourage each other to excel in our talents and abilities with a focus on support at all aspects of the game, whether on or off the field,” says Eagles Manager.
“We look forward to working with Carmilo and Odyssey to promote and develop Philippine Rugby League and share our values to our fellow New Zealand based Filipinos. We want to be part of the Eagles future successes and share these achievements with the rugby league community. We hope other rugby league associations will follow suit and provide the same opportunities for heritage players across the globe. Rugby League is a game for everyone, regardless of size, skill, gender, or ethnicity,” PNRL President Reynaldo Nery states.
23 August 2021 – as seen on Stuff.co.nz
Rugby league buffs regard former Kiwis standoff Gary Woollard – who died last Sunday aged 79 – as a great example of how perseverance can pay off.
Woollard first toured Australia with the Kiwis as a 20-year-old Wellington scrumhalf in 1963, without playing a test.
A radio technician with the Civil Aviation service, young Woollard had trialled as a standoff, but was switched to scrumhalf for the second half, according to Evening Post archives.
He made enough of an impression to be named as the back-up to test scrumhalf Bill Snowden for the trip across the Tasman.
Woollard had started his career as a scrumhalf but moved out to standoff. He was in his third senior representative season and was Wellington’s vice-captain when named for his first tour.
After backing up Snowden in 1963, Woollard was also restricted to non-test matches on his next tour, across the Tasman in 1967, with Bob Irvine, Doug Ellwood, Paul Schultz and Roger Tait variously employed in the halves across the three tests.
But, in 1969 – six years after first fitted for a Kiwis blazer – Woollard made his test bow against the Kangaroos at Carlaw Park.
By then specialising at standoff, he played outside scrumhalf Graeme Cooksley in the Kiwi’s 18-14 win over a side containing Australian greats John Sattler, Ron Coote and Graeme Langlands.
New Zealand rugby league historian John Coffey noted that Woollard – by then playing his club football in Auckland – “persevered and broke through for one test against Australia in 1969 and the 1970 World Cup, the tournament coach Lory Blanchard used as his model for the big year of 1971”.
Woollard partnered Cooksley in the halves in the Kiwis’ 1970 World Cup matches in Europe against Australia, France and Great Britain and a subsequent test defeat to France in Carcassonne.
Blanchard retained Woollard for the Kiwis’ convincing 24-3 win over Australia in Auckland in 1971, pairing him with Ken Stirling.
That duo were also aboard for the Kiwis’ successful 1971 tour of Europe where they won test series against Great Britain (2-1) and France (2-0).
Woollard was not in the lineup for the 18-13 first test win over Great Britain at Salford, with a teenage Dennis Williams partnering Stirling in the halves, but he came on in the second half of the series-clinching 17-14 second test triumph at Castleford after English star Alex Murphy’s controversial high tackle on Stirling.
Woollard was back in the starting lineup at standoff for the 12-3 final test defeat at Leeds, with William shifted to the centres.
Woollard, who captained Auckland from 1969 to 1971, came into his own in the France series, starting all three tests against the Chanticleers.
He scored his first test try in the second international, won by the Kiwis 24-2 in Carcassonne to clinch the series, and signed off with another for the Kiwis’ only points in a 3-3 draw in the dead rubber fixture in Toulouse.
By then in his 30th year, Woollard hung up his boots after the tour following 10 tests (two tries) and another 32 non-international appearances (for three tries).
After playing in Auckland for Otahuhu and Mt Albert, Woollard returned to the capital, signing for St George in 1974. He coached the club to the 1977 Wellington title.
Woollard was the 13th member of the 26-man 1971 Kiwis team to pass away since 1998.
17 August 2021
In light of this evening’s Covid-19 announcement, New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 at 11:59pm for three days; with Auckland and the Coromandel remaining in Alert Level 4 for an extra five days. All rugby league activity under Alert Level 4 (playing, contact and non-contact training) is postponed, subject to ongoing Government updates.
New Zealanders are instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement.
Face masks are mandatory for anyone using public transport for essential travel. Face masks are also encouraged when visiting supermarkets and essential services.
Remember to use the NZ Covid Tracer app with Bluetooth tracing turned on.
Any person feeling unwell or presenting cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
NZRL is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to update you with the latest information, subject to ongoing Government updates.
Rugby League has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years.Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand.
NZRL is divided into seven zones that service the grassroots needs of the game.These zones compete in the National Premiership/Championship,as well as women’s, youth and schools’ competitions. NZRL manages the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns who play regular international fixtures and compete in the Rugby League World Cup every four years.
Underpinning this philosophy is The Kiwi Way. We are diverse, we call New Zealand home and therefore we are all Kiwis. We live and play The Kiwi Way –all day/every day:
The NZRL reserves the right to vary this Position Description in response to the changing needs of the organisation.
The Digital Communications Executive is tasked with producing digital content for the NZRL website and other NZRL communications channels, as well as assisting the communications team where needed.
The NZRL Communications department is connected to, and works with, all areas of the organisation, and the wider rugby league community, hence the requirement for a motivated team performer who is passionate about rugby league and has the ability to develop and deliver interesting, informative, entertaining and attractive content to the NZRL community and Kiwis / Kiwi Ferns fanbase.
Duties and Responsibilities
Occupational Health and Safety
NZRL is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all its employees, visitors and contractors.
Every employee is responsible for ensuring that NZRL health and safety policy requirements are applied in their area of responsibility and that all employees abide by the requirements of the NZRL health and safety programme.
The following planning and reporting is required:
OBJECTIVES – KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
DESIRED SKILL AND EXPERIENCE
Apply here. Applications close Thursday 20 August at 5pm
2021 sees the return of Pirtek’s prestigious Volunteer of the Month, where our rugby league community have the chance to see their hard mahi showcased and recognised. This award is given to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way, which are being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce that July’s Pirtek Volunteer of the Month is Raymond Greaves.
Greaves started volunteering for Physical Disability Rugby League four years ago, of which now he is the Head Coach. He brings passion and exuberance at every opportunity, investing hours into creating, planning and executing disability-specific training for PDRL players.
Raymond encourages his players and pushes them to ensure their situation does not limit them, and possesses a firm belief in each of the individuals he coaches. The PDRL head coach believes in the impact rugby league can have on the physically disabled community, but more importantly, the impact the physically disabled community can have on the game of rugby league.
Greaves is well respected by management, the board and numerous other volunteers and is highly influential to the PDRL game in Tamaki Makaurau.
Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke had this to say, “Raymond Greaves is a well-deserving winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month for July 2021. How great is it that Ray donates his time and energy to help fulfil other people’s wishes within the Rugby League community.” Bourke continued, “Ray carries a great deal of respect from many people associated with Rugby League and, importantly, Physical Disability Rugby League. I am sure that he does everything that is needed to be done, with a smile on his face.”
“Without people like Ray, our Rugby League community and family would not be the same.”
12th July 2021 as seen on stuff.co.nz
Manawatū’s senior club rugby league competition has been resurrected after a four-year hiatus.
The senior competition fell over in 2018 due to a lack of teams, but work behind the scenes and a decision to shift the schedule until after the rugby season has meant a six-team contest will start this weekend.
There are two new teams: the Takaro Taniwha and Feilding Stags, which has a link to players from the Feilding Old Boys-Ōroua rugby club.
Regular contenders the Kia Ora Warriors, Linton Cobras and Whanganui Boxon all return, while rugby club the Levin Wanderers, has entered a side.
Manawatū Rugby League’s Lawrence Erihe has been working since the competition stopped to get it back up and running. He said he threw it back to the clubs to start again.
“I put it back to the clubs to say if you want it you need to do it with actions. Instead of talking about it, actually do it.”
Rugby league has good junior numbers in the region and Erihe wanted to ensure there was something for players to go on to as they got older.
Previously rugby and rugby league competitions were held at the same time, but shifting rugby league to later in the year, so it didn’t clash with rugby, should allow players to play both codes.
A lack of player numbers was a problem when the senior grade was last played in 2017.
The health of rosters for this season would indicate whether rugby league in Manawatū needed to be played earlier or later.
There was no women’s competition because there had been no-one to push it, Erihe said.
He hoped to start an under-20 grade next year.
All games will this weekend be played at Coronation Park, which is the home ground for Takaro, Linton, and Kia Ora. The other sides will host games.
Erihe said the Dannevirke Tigers had intended to join the Manawatū competition, but because they won the Hawke’s Bay grade last year, they decided to defend that title. They could rejoin Manawatū in the future.
Manawatū Rugby League’s base is now at Coronation Park and no games will be played at Fitzherbert Park.
After the club season there is likely to be a rep tri-series in August between Manawatū, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay. From there a Midcentral team will be selected to qualify for the national tournament.
Manawatū Rugby League chairman Barrie Law received a distinguished service awards at New Zealand Rugby League’s recent annual meeting, having been involved with the sport since 1985
2021 sees the return of Pirtek’s prestigious Volunteer of the Month, where our rugby league community have the chance to see their hard mahi showcased and recognised. This award is given to a volunteer who displays the core values of NZRL’s Kiwi Way, which are being family first, innovative, inclusive, respectful and humble. We are excited to announce June’s Pirtek Volunteer of the Month is William McGlade.
McGlade is a member of the Pirate Panthers Rugby League Club in Napier, serving as a referee, coach, volunteer and player. William has recently coached the Ngati Kahungunu mixed 11s team that travelled away to the NZMRL Tamariki Tournament in Rotorua in April. William has a strong passion for grassroots rugby league, aiming to develop rangatahi not just as players of the game but into strong young men of the region.
McGlade has been instrumental in the development of rugby league in the Hawkes Bay area, and the region recognises his hard work in the community.
Pirtek CEO Chris Bourke commented, “Coach Willy as he is better known, is a perfect example of the volunteers we have and need in our great game of Rugby League. “At the sacrifice of his own family time, Willy donates his time to the Napier Pirate Panthers Rugby League Club to ensure he is nurturing the game for the future. “He further stated, “Once the passion for Rugby League is in the blood, it is tough to remove, and that’s why William McGlade is a well-deserving Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.”
29 June 2021
Congratulations to the following who received Distinguished Service Awards at the recent 2021 NZRL AGM
George Tuata Tahapehi has been involved in the game since 1978, coaching the Putaruru Dragons, Ngongotaha, Pacific Sharks and the Tokoroa Devils. Tahapehi also coached Tokoroa High School and won the final of the Telecom Cup. George, a founding Life Member of Midland Masters Rugby League Tokoroa, is still playing at 73 and received Gold Shorts Kiwi Player in Australia in 2016.
Tahapehi enjoyed a spell as Midland Rugby League President from 1980-90 and has been a vital figure in the club. He served as a Junior Schoolboy Co-ordinator, youth representative coach and administrator for most of the Senior Grades. He coached the u15s, became a premier referee and an Honorary Member of Midlands Rugby League Club. George Tahapehi has had an enormous influence on the district and fabric of the club.
On a national level, the Midlands man has been involved in the NZRL Schoolboys Council, the New Zealand Schools u15 council, Kiwis Schoolboys coach in 1991 and North Island Rugby League coach in 1980.
George has served the game he loves for 43 years and did the mileage that has allowed the rugby league community in Tokoroa to survive. Tahapehi continues to serve the community holding barbecues for the annual Children’s Day in Tokoroa and also collecting boots that he can provide tamariki and rangatahi to which they often wouldn’t have been able to afford.
Alana Lockhorst has been a significant member of the Southland rugby league community. She has been a key person for Cooks Rugby League Club in Invercargill for the past ten years and has divided her time into making sure the club is well resourced, active in recruiting and retaining players and undertakes a majority of key roles in organising the club.
Alana has been the heart of Southland Rugby League for the past ten years. She has held various roles in the district, including secretary, treasurer, and at times has led the organisation and managed the Premier representative team, the Southland Rams.
She has almost single-handedly promoted and created opportunities for rangatahi in the game. She runs competitions and organises funding and resourcing for 14s, 15s, 17s, and girls representative teams.
She currently organises and manages the senior competition and is always involved in any events and activities hosted by Southland Rugby League.
She works closely with the managers of club and representative teams to upskill them whilst also managing age-grade teams where required.
Without her contribution operationally, Southland Rugby League would not have provided the level of rugby league that they do to their community.
Alana managed the NZ Secondary Schools Team in 2017 and the NZ Residents Team in 2017 and 2019.
An NZRL historian and long-serving member of the Wellington Rugby League Referees Association, William “Bill” Mann has been serving the rugby league community since 1943. Mann began coaching in 1957 before moving to Porirua and co-founding the Western Suburbs RLC, which later changed their name to Porirua City.
He joined the WRL Referees Association in 1963, working his way up to a senior referee and then treasurer of the association between 1969 and 1972, rules critic from 1975-80 and referee’s delegate on the WRL Board of Control and Chairman in 1980-81. Mann retired from his position in 1981 and was made a Life Member of the WRLRA in 1985.
Bill Mann was a pioneer in the rugby league and referee’s space in Wellington and created a better game in the region. His efforts will not go unnoticed and are still felt to this day.
Desmond O’Sullivan is also a member of the Wellington Rugby League Referees Association, beginning his relationship with the game more than 50 years ago as a coach of junior side Marist-St Joseph’s school in Auckland – picking up the whistle in 1967 at age 17.
Between 1967 and 1993, O’Sullivan officiated 95 representative games, had 16 international appointments and refereed two Wellington club grand finals in 1986 and 1988. He officiated the Tusk Cup, Rugby League Cup, National Tournament and other representative honours also.
In 1972, Des moved to Wellington and was voted into the association in September of that year; after fixtures as a touch judge, O’Sullivan had his first provincial refereeing appointment on September 11th, 1976. In 1978, Des was made an Assistant Rules Critic of the WRLRA before becoming Deputy Chairman in 1981. The following year O’Sullivan was elected Chairman, of which he served until 1990.
During this period, Desmond was a part of the NZRL Test Panel for two years and ran numerous lines and the reserve referee. A year before he stood down from refereeing in 1993, Des was made a Life Member of the Wellington Referees Association. He later got involved in writing and running the first level three referee’s course at Hopuhopu in 1997 and even received a Queen’s Service Medal for his contribution to rugby league, rotary and to the New Zealand Police.
His last honour came in 2011 when he was made a life member of the Wellington Rugby League and has been a patron of the WRLRA since 2010.
Barrie first got involved in Rugby League in 1985. He became a member of the Korodale Rugby League Club, becoming the assistant manager in 1986, for the Trentham Camp Rugby League Club, which at the time was affiliated to the Korodale Rugby League as the Trentham Army Team or Korodale Army. Barrie held the position of manager in 1987.
Upon posting to Burnham, Barrie relinquished his roles and simply supported the Burnham camp team in the Canterbury competition.
When Barrie returned to Trentham, on Army posting, he again took over as the Trentham Team manager and club chairman (1993 – 1996). The club was known as the Upper Hutt Army or occasionally as Trentham Tigers and was affiliated to the Upper Hutt Rugby League Club, fielding the club’s senior second’s team. The club went from strength to strength over this period where the Trentham Camp team under the Upper Hutt Tigers colours won 2 grand finals, 1994 and 1996 and were semi-finalists in 1995.
For a short period, Barrie was also Vice Chairman of Upper Hutt (six months) just before posting to Waiouru in November 1996.
On posting to Waiouru, Barrie took up the reigns of the Waiouru “Bobcats” Rugby League Club, where he again was the manager and club chairman. During his tenure, and with assistance from rugby league enthusiasts in the Waimarino district established a small junior rugby league group where games were played on a turn-up and play basis. Many weekends were spent travelling with the premiers on Saturday and with the juniors on a Sunday. During this period, the Waiouru Bobcats went through many structures and eventually settled on a Premier Reserve Team where they won 2 grand finals in the Manawatu competition.
Barrie relinquished these roles when he posted to Linton in 2002. Barrie supported the Linton Army Rugby league club, Linton “Cobra’s”, from 2002 and remains an avid supporter. During his time with the club, he held the role of Chairman over the period 2013 To 2019.
Under Barrie’s guidance and with assistance from other military rugby league enthusiasts incorporated the women’s game into the fold at Linton with a strong contingent of army and community members joining the team to participate in the Wellington Women’s Rugby league Competition. The club also grew to include junior playing teams during his time as Chairperson.
Law held the position of Chairman NZ Defence Forces Rugby League and, when not hosting, has been an executive committee member. Barrie has been referred to within Army and NZ Defence Force as Mr Rugby League.
Barrie was instrumental in producing the first strategic plan for NZ Defence Forces Rugby League, which approved two matches a year, something no other sports code in Defence had at the time. He was also instrumental in having the NZ Defence Forces Rugby League approved by NZRL as an official NZ representative side.
Barrie was awarded the NZ Army Colour for Sport in November 2004.
Congratulations to all of the above who received Distinguished Service Awards at the recent 2021 NZRL AGM. We thank you for your years of service and dedication to the great game of rugby league.
In the spirit of National Volunteer Week in Aotearoa, New Zealand Rugby League will showcase the hard mahi that goes unnoticed around the motu. From coaches to administration, volunteers are naturally a huge part of the foundation of rugby league and thus deserve to be highlighted.
Through NZRL’s More Than A Game philosophy, we are committed to transforming lives and community wellbeing through rugby league, this is achieved by the hard-working volunteers that make up our many communities.
In 2021, a plethora of the game’s servants have already given back to their communities, and this article will highlight the efforts of Jade Wylde, Jess Bijl-Kakoi and Ally Tamihere.
Ally Tamihere has been committed to the game in Tairawhiti for over 15 years. She has helped host the National Women’s Tournament in 2012, bringing the Warriors and the Sharks to Tairawhiti, co-ordinating the local senior competition while also supporting rangatahi and the premier men at the National Maori Tournaments.
Tamihere has also had influence in implementing hauora kaupapa, such as suicide awareness and prevention in the Tairawhiti region. In 2021, Ally has been focused on developing the grassroots game providing mini-mod competitions and also the annual Trish Hina Tournament.
Graham Edmonds of Te Tairawhiti spoke on Tamihere, “The passion and drive she has for the game is second to none. Her energy and mahi can be felt all of the Gisborne area, and we appreciate all her hard work and dedication towards the game.”
Taranaki’s Jade Wylde has been instrumental in introducing a new rugby league club named Stratford Toa, as well as coaching its under 6’s team.
Acquaintance Jamie Lee Davis had this to say about Wylde, “He is the first to arrive and last to leave, he goes above and beyond for the youth, and it is never a chore for him. Stratford Toa appreciates him and his efforts in creating and developing our new rugby league club.”
Jess Bijl-Kakoi has helped keep the Canterbury under 14s competition alive, entering a team (EE Sports Tuna) and ensuring there are sufficient pathways for players in that age bracket.
“Jess, alongside husband Sam, work tirelessly to ensure players are registered, playing and healthy. She is a fantastic support person for the young people while also getting dirty with pick-ups and drop-offs.” Clubmate, Te Iwingaro Wairau states.
Bijl-Kakoi invests tremendously into the rangatahi of the area and will continue to find avenues to develop them both on and off the field.
An article can do no justice to all the mahi these individuals do for rugby league around the country. Still, it is essential to highlight and showcase some of the volunteers that drive the game in Aotearoa.
Kiwi #726 David Faalogo has been working in tandem with Springboard to help school students transition from secondary school into employment or tertiary education. The former Souths, Huddersfield Giants and Newcastle forward has been working exclusively with Long Bay College and Kristin School, being a vital support person.
Springboard is an organisation created in 2002 that aims to work with youth (8-24yrs) and their families to provide support programmes and create opportunities for young people to achieve positive outcomes. They focus on personal wellbeing by creating a place of belonging and celebrating intimate connections.
Faalogo invited NZRL’s Wellbeing manager Jerry Seuseu, Ali Lauiti’iti and the Warriors Wellbeing manager Ben Henry to present alongside himself at Long Bay College. They presented to the year 13 cohorts about transitioning from school into tertiary education or the workforce and the challenges it may present.
“I want to give back, there are young adults that need some guidance and experienced advice, and it is a priority of mine to be this person for young people,” said Fa’alogo.
“Growing up, I had advice and guidance from mentors in sport teams, and so I know the importance it can have. I made mistakes at a younger age, but we live and learn, and we make sure we do our best not to make those same mistakes.”
The presentation infused both advice from the former NRL starlets as well as personal stories that could help relate these tips to the lives of the students.
NZRL Wellbeing Manager Jerry Seuseu commented, “David told us about this presentation and we jumped right on board to see a former Kiwi such as himself focused on making a difference in the wellbeing of youth in Auckland is an inspiration.
“We are proud to be a part of something like this and are excited to see the growth of rangatahi in Tamaki Makaurau.”
Peter Butler, Kaihautū (Captain of the Waka) of Palmerston North’s Highbury Whānau Centre, has been working with rangatahi for more than two decades, in both the community and on the rugby league field.
Peter, alongside his team, have developed the W.A.R Programme (Work readiness, attitude, and reliability) to tackle the transition from school to work for young people, In a bid to capture those falling through the cracks.
The W.A.R Programme is designed for rangatahi aged 17 – 20 to transition into the workplace with confidence and the skills to begin and maintain employment.
Butler also coaches in several different spaces, including the NZRL U16s Residents, Viper’s Men’s Championship team, and the victorious U20’s Central Districts squad.
Peter has found success in both areas he operates, helping young people become employed and rugby league youth grow into fantastic young men.
Butler commented, “It is more than a game for us; it’s about connecting and building relationships with young people.”
Besides the outstanding mahi Butler does in the Palmerston North community, he transfers his skills from the community space to grow rangtahi participation in rugby league.
“Whether it is teaching them skills for the workplace or coaching our U20’s boys the fundamentals of the game, we aim to work alongside youth and unlock their potential.”
“Majority of our boys are Maori/Pasifika in the rugby league space. Our people have so much untapped potential due to the lack of support some of them get, our mission is to be that support. To be that backbone they can find solace in.”
Be part of a team at the New Zealand Universities and Tertiary Students Rugby League 9s Tournament!
Monday 24th May, 2021.
Rugby League has seen a decline in participation for the Wellington region, but Game Developer Anya Hape has put plans in place to see a revival in the area.
Hape is a former player in the grassroots space as well as a Wellington Orca’s representative and has a burning desire to grow rugby league in her hometown.
“I am passionate and about rangatahi having the opportunity to play rugby league, as well as developing our men’s and women’s pathways.” Hape commented.
The former Orca attended NZRL’s Aspiring Her conference seeking the skills needed to further push the game and acquire valuable advice from women in rugby league across the nation.
From this conference, she has taken action in regards to reintroducing the women’s competition and rangatahi pathways for the region.
“I have been in the rugby league space for numerous years, as a player, coach and referee.”
Hape continues, “The confidence and resources I received from the conference allowed for us to implement plans for an inaugural youth tournament. This to be played in tandem with the first women’s grade competition in Wellington since 2016. We are also nurturing a team to enter NZRL’s Secondary Schools competition. Another first for the region.”
“Wellington Rugby League will also be looking to grow the 13-17 year old competitions. The Aspiring Her conference was beneficial for me and is something that needs to continue if we are to grow our rugby league Wāhine.”
The Aspiring Her programme aims to strengthen and widen female development in rugby league, both on and off the field. NZRL and Head of Women’s Rugby League, Luisa Avaiki, held the conference from the 9th to the 11th of April to help women implement a support plan for their respective rugby league regions.
For more on Aspiring Her, visit our Facebook page.
Over 25 years Nadene Conlon has achieved numerous milestones in rugby league. But the Kiwi Fern tells Ashley Stanley it’s the impact off the field that truly matters.
Nadene Conlon has broken through many glass ceilings in her sport.
The Kiwi Fern original was the first women’s captain to win the inaugural rugby league World Cup in 2000, and also the first woman to get the full-time role of managing the Kiwi men’s team in 2016.
But the 36-test veteran believes it’s the impact the sport provides off the field that truly matters.
“You can never really underestimate or undervalue the impact that you can make through sport on some people’s lives,” says Conlon. “There’s nothing better than being able to do that. And sometimes we have to remind ourselves of it.”
In a career spanning over 25 years, as a player and administrator, Conlon is a clear example of just how powerful it can be when people influence others through sport – sometimes without even realising.
A gesture from a former New Zealand Warriors U20’s player who Conlon used to manage during her time at the NRL franchise, has shown how much of an impact she had on him and rugby league in general.
Since retiring from the sport through injuries, Alamoti Finau has taken up a coaching role with the Marist women’s rugby league team – the club Conlon used to play for, after starting in the game in 1993.
To have former players give back through the women’s space is invaluable. But Finau went one step further. He created the first Auckland Rugby League inter-club trophy honouring a female in recognition of Conlon and her services to the game.
The Nadene Conlon trophy will be up for grabs each year when the Marist Saints and Glenora Bears take the field in the Farrelly Photos Women’s Championship competition. Their first encounter is scheduled for Sunday June 20 at Glenora – Conlon’s family club in West Auckland where she spent most of her weekends helping out as a youngster.
Conlon admits her initial thoughts were mixed when she found out a trophy was named after her.
“It didn’t really sink in at first, I was sort of like ‘Oh yeah, that’s great’. And then I went through a bit of mixed emotions,” she says.
“Even now, it’s still just sinking in. But I think for me, one of the greatest things is that someone even thought of it for a start. And then when they told me why they actually made the trophy, I thought ‘Oh, ok, thank you, that’s amazing.
“It was really touching for me, that he was the one that came up with the idea.”
In a career littered with many ‘firsts’, the back-rower says a stand out moment was captaining the Kiwi Ferns to a World Cup title in 2000.
“That was a real highlight but every moment that I wore the black and white jersey was really special and meant so much,” she says. In her 10 years representing New Zealand from 1995 to 2005, she only experienced one defeat. Conlon was also the first full-time woman in a coaching and development role at ARL in the same year.
Travelling for rugby league and meeting different people, “superstars” not only in the 13-man code but other sports as well, has been another highlight.
But breaking a few barriers being a woman in league and sport is up there, too, for Conlon when reflecting on her career.
“Being given opportunities but also working hard to get those opportunities to hopefully pave the way for others in the game,” she says. “Whereas perhaps in past times, women probably wouldn’t have been given those opportunities like our male counterparts.”
Conlon was also the first female to manage the Warriors teams during Ivan Cleary’s era, and the first full-time team manager for New Zealand’s international teams including the Kiwis in 2016.
Being a part of the New Zealand Warriors when they had all three top sides make the finals in 2011 is another career moment she cherishes.
Things have definitely progressed in her time, says Conlon.
“I think to be fair rugby league has always been pretty good at acknowledging women in the game,” she says. “But probably more on the peripheral rather than in football or high performance areas. So I think that’s come a long way.”
She credits New Zealand Rugby League for giving her the Kiwis manager’s role when it went from a contract basis into a full-time position.
“It was quite the process I have to say, but they obviously had the confidence in me. And I have to back myself a little bit, I was and am qualified for the role,” Conlon says.
“I just think at the time those perceptions of women in roles, and particularly in football roles, were probably very few and far between. But I do think things are changing.”
On the field, things are evolving too. “Even though we did extremely well in the period that I played, I think it was still very much thought of as a hobby,” says the mother-of-one.
“Even though we had to work full-time, train ourselves, and be mothers, and all that sort of stuff, and still go and win World Cups around that.
“Whereas now, I think people understand and can see that it can be a viable option to play rugby league as a career, which is really cool.” Conlon was still in the Kiwi Ferns when they won the 2003 rugby league World Cup.
She says success for her as a manager comes down to having a good understanding of the game and being able to carry out the administrative side of things well.
“I think they both compliment each other. And it’s not always easy to find those people who can tick off all those boxes, I guess. I think that’s definitely what’s helped me,” she says.
Conlon’s league nous comes from being raised in a rugby league family. The Conlons have four generations of involvement at Glenora.
Her grandad was heavily involved on the committee, and was the treasurer. Her father, Pat, played and coached. And her brother, Aron, followed suit and served as chairman for a while.
Aron also played for and captained the Junior Kiwis. In an uncanny occurrence, when Aron toured Australia and Papua New Guinea with the Junior Kiwis, they played and won seven matches. In the very first year of the Kiwi Ferns, Nadene toured Australia and played and won seven games too. “So that’s pretty cool as a whanau,” she says.
But Conlon didn’t actually play the sport as a youngster. “It wasn’t very common for girls to play in those days, although I very much wanted to,” she says.
So she took to a number of other sports. Gymnastics, netball and trampolining, which she managed to get to a reasonable competitive level.
Conlon carried on to play representative touch and got the opportunity to lace up in league boots during her late teens. “And the rest is history.”
“I just loved it. I loved the contact of it and everything about it,” Conlon says. “So, that was me, I was sold after one game. Although I did come away with a few battle wounds. But it didn’t scare me off.”
Throughout her career the biggest lesson Conlon has taken away is to enjoy the moments.
“I know it’s a little bit of a cliché, but I think New Zealanders are really humble and modest as a culture,” she says. “And I think it’s not until you get older, that you realise how amazing, and how awesome some of the things we’ve had the opportunity to do are.
“So it’s important that you really enjoy those moments and obviously take every opportunity that comes your way.”
Conlon says she’s also learnt a lot about what not to do and what to keep doing more of in each role.
“As long as you’re always learning and looking at more effective ways at doing things to create success, that’s the aim.”
Having achieved most accolades as a player, Conlon still has goals she wants to achieve in the sport.
“I want to see both our men and women win a World Cup in the same year. That would be really cool,” she says. “And I also want to win a World Cup as the Kiwis manager.”
14th May, 2021.
as seen on healthy families.
Wellbeing and putting the person first is high up on the agenda for Wellington Rugby League. The philosophy runs deep and was evident last weekend during the delivery of the Kiwi League Senior Coaching course, part of New Zealand Rugby League’s ‘The Kiwi Way’ Coach Education pathway.
Coaches are encouraged to put the player first and the course focuses on building current knowledge as well as strengthening the framework under which coaching is provided through the game of rugby league.
The concept is coaching for character. It shines a light on the important role a coach can play in having conversations and supporting individual players during difficult and challenging times. Sporting coaches are in an invaluable position to be able to provide strong leadership to our children and young people, shaping them and equipping them with important skills to be able to navigate their way through life.
Alongside Healthy Families Hutt Valley the Kiwi League Senior Coaching programme brought together 17 coaches from across the Wellington region, the largest number of senior coaches to have undertaken this programme at any one time.
The emergence of women in sport at this level is inspiring. Three of the newly accredited coaches are Pasifika women, a milestone for Wellington Rugby League and recognition of the rise in leadership by women involved in the sport.
New Zealand Rugby League Director of Coaching, Dan Keepa highlighted over the weekend that as a result of the coaching programme and the national and local commitment to the ongoing development of coaches, that within the next two or three years we will see a significant shift in how the game of rugby league is played.
Going beyond the game to put wellbeing at the forefront by developing rugby league coaches, we can reach players and whānau where they spend their time and collectively support our people to be well.
3rd May, 2021.
As seen on loverugbyleague.com
Former New Zealand international Lance Hohaia has joined the North American Rugby League competition as a coach.
Hohaia, 38, made more than 270 career appearances across spells with New Zealand Warriors and St Helens, while also representing Exiles during his time in Super League.
A statement said: “The NARL West has introduced a top level coach to the league that any team would be lucky to have on the sideline.
“Lance has shown to be a proven champion winning the Super League championship & bringing home the World Cup in 2008 as he represented his country New Zealand.
“His former club the Taniwharau Rugby League club has went as far as naming him their great player of all time!”
29 April 2021
New Zealand Rugby League would like to congratulate the following New Zealanders; Anthony Eliott, Chris McMillan, Paki Parkinson and Rochelle Tamarua for being appointed to the newly formed International Match Officials Squad (IMOS).
The International Rugby League (IRL) has announced the International Match Officials Squad (IMOS) will operate underneath the Elite Match Officials Squad (EMOS) and will generally officiate games that do not involve the top four ranked countries.
IMOS has officials from eight different countries which reflects the development of match officials around the world and is the only way to be considered for EMOS in the future is to have officiated as a member of IMOS, there is every incentive for the match officials in this group to perform.
Rugby League is leading the way by identifying a pathway for match officials which is fully inclusive, with the first three women being selected for IMOS. As a sign of strategic intent to accelerate the opportunities for and development of women officials in international rugby league, IMOS can be expanded to 24 referees, no more than 16 of whom will be men.
On announcing the make-up of the squad, IRL Match Officials Manager Stuart Cummings said:
“This has been a very difficult selection process with a number of candidates just missing out. The squad reflects the level of competitions around the world and the continued improvement in the performance and training of match officials. It is also important that we recognise the great strides made in the development and performance of our female officials by starting to develop their pathway and create more opportunities for them. The squad size will grow as we receive more nominations.”
The IRL International Match Officials Squad is:
28th April, 2021.
De La Salle in Auckland’s south has seen their fair share of professional Rugby League talent over the years, despite the absence of a senior First XIII.
Alumni and former NRL players, Motu Tony and George Carmont looked to rectify this by re-establishing the league programme after last being active in 1999 with Tony and Carmont in Rugby League Director and Head Coach roles respectively.
De La Salle is an all-boys Catholic School in Mangere’s East, a melting pot for South Auckland talent that boasts the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Jeff Lima, and Leeson Ah Mau to go alongside the aforementioned Carmont and Tony.
“The talent is there; what we aim to do is re-create the pathway that was laid for us so that current and future players have every opportunity to succeed, not only on the field but in the classroom also.” Tony says.
New Zealand Rugby League General Manager of Football and High-Performance Motu Tony wants to give back to a programme that heavily impacted his life.
“It changed my life,” Tony stated, “I believe it can change the lives of the students right now. It is more than just a game for us, De La Salle and its rugby league initiative taught us values, resilience, and perseverance which can heavily impact the direction you take in life.”
When asked why, Tony commented, “we want to give back to a programme and institution that guided us. Giving back to the youth that are in similar positions we were in is a priority for me and George.”
Tony added, “we haven’t had a rugby league program in over 20 years but thankfully, the Principal, Myles Hogarty and the Board of Trustees, have given us an opportunity to help our young men using rugby league.”
Coach Carmont has selected a 25-man squad to compete in the Senior A grade in the Auckland Secondary Schools (Rugby League) competition. De La Salle’s First XIII will also be entering New Zealand Rugby league’s Secondary Schools Competition in late August.
27 April 2021 – As seen on stuff.co.nz
A heart condition has prompted Auckland-born NRL referee Henry Perenara to retire at the age of 40.
Perenara, who played one test for the Kiwis in 2001, has been an NRL referee since 2011, after playing 72 first grade matches in the NRL for five clubs.
He is a cousin of All Blacks TJ Perenara and Sonny Bill Williams.
Perenara has been diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heartbeat that causes shortness of breath, dizziness sweating or fainting, The Daily Telegraph reported.
He almost collapsed at training a week ago, Perenara told the newspaper. At times his heart raced to about 230 beats per minute.
A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, but a fit athlete might be closer to 40 beats per minute.
“I nearly blacked out,” he said. “I don’t remember much of it, but that’s when I had to make the decision to give it away. You certainly don’t want to risk it happening in a game.”
He said he had battled the disease for almost 15 years. At times it struck during games.
“I just kept pushing through it. It’s not life-threatening, but it’s not good either. It feels like your heart is beating out of your chest. It’s happened in games, but I’ve just tried to mask it.”
A cardiologist diagnosed him in February and put him on medication, which made him lethargic. He quit after two months.
He made his international refereeing debut in 2011 when New Zealand played the Cook Islands in a one-off test match in Rarotonga.
He had made his NRL first grade debut as a referee in the Roosters-Raiders match earlier that year.
He will still work in the bunker and help coach junior refs.
Upper Central Zone has implemented a system to eradicate unnecessary pressure from their school rugby league events, and feedback from the community suggests that it is working.
Every August, Upper Central Zone (UC) and Sport Bay of Plenty run nine-a-side, one-day, rugby league tournaments for schools to participate in. The tournaments feature 20 teams in the Western Bay of Plenty (WBOP) and 16 teams in the Central Bay of Plenty (CBOP) ranging from years five to eight.
This year’s competition saw a twist in priority, with participation and behavioural standards being the prominent focus. Feedback from coaches, teachers and staff proposed that in past years, youth have felt under extreme pressure to perform for multiple reasons and this has discouraged them from taking part.
This sentiment is supported by Sport NZ’s Balance is Better philosophy where it is encouraged to place fun over competitiveness. Balance is Better is an evidence-based approach and research has suggested that the competitive structure can dishearten youth from playing sport.
Tony Lajpold, from Upper Central reiterates that the way to release this pressure is to emphasise participation over competition.
“The kids look forward to the tournament every year, but underlying pressures from coaches or parents have had a big impact on them wanting to compete. This time around, you could see the players genuinely enjoying themselves knowing they were not expected to win every match.”
Teams were awarded points not only on results but also their behaviour both on and off the field. After seeing the positive impact it’s had on the students, it’s encouraged staff to continue in with the “family” orientated environment achieved during the competition.
“As a Zone, we work closely with Sport NZ to provide an equal and enjoyable sporting experience for our schools, in line with their Balance is Better strategy,” Tony added.
“The wellbeing of our rangatahi, both physical and mental will always be a priority. It is great to see smiles back on the faces of the students and our next steps will be to ensure these smiles remain permanent.”
21 April 2021
Concussion numbers in grassroots rugby and league are growing year on year in New Zealand but unlike professional teams, local clubs don’t have the same resources for around-the-clock testing and medical care.
However, one Kiwi company is changing the way clubs can help monitor the long-term effects of concussion with a new tool that takes just three minutes to deliver results.
Between 2010 and 2019, the number of ACC claims for concussion in rugby increased by 60 per cent, which former NRL player David Bhana said can be partly attributed to the approach to them at grassroots level.
“There’s a massive difference in attitude towards concussions in local football,” Bhana said.
“It’s more like, I’ll be right.”
Another issue though is monitoring concussions when they happen.
At club level, when a player suffers a head knock, they undergo a Scat-5 test which includes a series of questions like the date and where the concussed person is.
Some say the test is too repetitive and many already know what is going to be asked so other solutions are needed.
“There is an unmitted need for accurate and timely diagnosis of concussion head injury,” Dr Brian Jong told 1 NEWS.
The ones leading the way in that department are Northcote Rugby League Club, who are investing in a first-of-its-kind eye box by Kiwi company TBI Diagnostics.
The box is designed to help prevent long-term concussions and only takes three minutes with those under a concussion cloud asked to simply follow a moving picture for the duration to determine a baseline of their injury.
“The best solution we have is an educated guess so I guess we are trying to take away any guess work,” Vasco Kovacevic from TBI Diagnostics said.
After the test, the machine stores the data so the next time an athlete suffers a knock, they can monitor how serious it is.
“We previously would put a blanket on someone, saying 30 day suspension or six day suspension, but now we can now actually shorten some of them or sadly, in most cases, prolong them.”
Sad news for some but a great result for grassroots sport.
April 8, 2021.
The final of NZRL’s inaugural National 20’s competition will kick off on this coming Saturday 10th of April at Opaheke reserve. Unbeaten Auckland Blue and competition dark horse Central Districts will battle it out for the top spot at 2pm following the Fox Memorial opener between Mt Albert and Pt Chevalier at 12pm.
This highly anticipated round one rematch has all the signs of a classic, as the underdogs come into this clash off the back of a stellar cinderella run.
After going down in their first game against the Auckland side, Central Districts have won five straight en route to the final including a late comeback against third-place South Island and a gritty two-point victory against heavily favoured Auckland White.
Wingers Herman Seumanufagai and Pose Tuilaepa will look to continue their blinding run of form and with 12 amount of tries between them, they’ll certainly be a focal point of the final game.
Auckland Blue have shown their dominance throughout, having yet to suffer a loss and will look to remain undefeated in the final showdown. The Auckland side have been involved in plenty of one-sided games this season but that was not the case in their first battle only pulling away late to win 34-18 against the Central Districts team.
Zyon Maiu’u will look to lead his side as he has done all competition, the barnstorming second-rower will be a must-watch as he’s picked to come out on top in the highly-contested National 20s MVP ladder.
This year’s Auckland Rugby League SAS Fox Memorial Premiership Qualifiers will kick off as the curtain raiser on Saturday with a classic rivalry match between Mt Albert Lions and Pt Chevalier Pirates with the Stormont Shield on the line.
With no competition winner declared last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first division season-opener sees the top two sides at the time of the season’s forced cancellation battle it out.
Mt Albert vs Pt Chevalier and the Auckland Blue vs Central Districts Final will be televised live on Sky Sport 4, as well as Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for our Australian viewers.
Mt Albert vs. Pt Chevalier.
Saturday 10th April, 12pm.
Auckland Blue vs. Central Districts.
Saturday 10th April, 2pm.
8th April, 2021 – as seen in rnz.
His brother was a New Zealand and Wellington rugby league legend but Andre Whittaker hopes to transform the sport from outside the white lines of the field.
John Whittaker played 73 games for the capital and represented the Kiwis 26 times throughout the 70s and 80s, including at four world cups and played for the Cook Islands.
Now younger brother Andre was making waves of his own, but in the back-offices and boardrooms of the sport.
Both were children of a Tahitian father and Rarotongan mother and it was this background which drove Andre, who was this year named CEO of Wellington Rugby League, the first Pasifika person to hold the position.
“[It is] a very humbling feeling to know that is actually the case but also go into it knowing that part of our background, our heritage helps us take up those challenges so always mindful of that, of where I’ve come from, whose behind me and who I’m representing.”
Whittaker said his background meant he had empathy for many of the those who took part in the game.
“If we look at the statistics of make-up of people who take part on the game, there is a high percentage of Māori and Pasifika, so firstly, coming from my Pacific background, that helps me understand I guess some of the things and values that are important to Pasifika and Māori.”
Whittaker said those values included family, a sense of spirituality and connection to community.
“So you need to understand that when you’re working with Pasifika stakeholders, that you’re not engaging that person that’s in front of you, but their family and their community.”
Whittaker was an accomplished senior player and former Chairman of the Randwick club, while outside of rugby league he worked in the area of youth development and sport for the United Nations’ children’s agency, UNICEF.
But he said it was at his Lower Hutt-based club where his passion for the sport and his culture overlapped.
Over the years there was a strong base of Cook Islanders at the club and presently there are many Tokelauans who play there.
“So if you look at rugby league in New Zealand compared to say other sports, we’ve been one of the first sports where Pacific people were national representatives, so if I think back to people like Roy Christian who was in the 60s in the Kiwis and then players like Dennis Williams, my brother John Whittaker as of late, we saw players like Fred Ah Kuoi, James Leuluai, Olsen Filipaina, and the right through to now we’ve had players like Ben Matulino from here in Lower Hutt. I guess the person that’s out there right at the moment is Nelson Asofa-Solomona.”
Whittaker said this showed the strong thread of history of Pasifika people in the game.
“Pacific people are attracted to the game of rugby league because of the communities that we come from…we’re always strong on history and looking at whose gone before us and when we see people like Roy Christian like Dennis Williams, like Fred Ah Kuoi, representing us, it inspires us to want follow in their footsteps.”
Whittaker was on the record as saying the future of rugby league lay with Māori and Pasifika. He said this wasn’t to exclude others, as all were welcomed to the sport.
“The fact is the numbers of participants and the game of Pacific people is around 86 percent. If there is a strong stakeholder group, then the future of the game needs to understand, engaging those communities around values, and around systems that resonate with them so that they continue to grow and flourish on the game.”
So what exactly were these values Whittaker kept referring to?
“We talk about things using the Māori term, whakapapa, history and links to people. So working with a Pacific community and stakeholders in rugby league, we need to continually reference who are the people that have gone before us because that’s important. We need to continually reference our families and ensure that our families have a place and a voice within the game.”
He said this was where Māori and Pasifika where important to the future of the game.
Whittaker said in the past former All Black captain and one time Wainui rugby league star Tana Umaga had highlighted the need to get Pasifika more involved in sports administration.
“I remember him saying, ‘well we’re always in the game, but it’s about how do we take part from the sideline and be more meaningfully engaged, not only as coaches and managers, but in governance?'”
He said one of the things that needed to happen was to give validity and credibility to the values that Māori and Pasifika brought to the game and putting them on par with other pillars of the game.
“If we’re talking about things like governance, for example, things around, finance and audit and risk committees or things around bylaws, well, equally, you need to hold in the same frame values that resonate with specific people.
“If you have values, and I’m using Māori terms here like manaakitanga, like whanaungatanga, then they need to hold the same same weight and same value in how you run the organisation.”
So as much as the late John Whittaker turned opposition defences inside out in his heyday, Andre was flipping boardroom values, models and mindsets on their head.
A true champion of the Pacific.
April 2, 2021
Opaheke reserve hosted a second-half scoring blitz that saw Auckland Blue secure a big win over Wai-Coa-Bay on Friday afternoon in the final regular season match of the NZRL National 20s.
Knowing Blue had qualified for the Grand Final, Wai-Coa came to play and the Auckland side met their energy.
The home side trailed the impressive Wai-Coa-Bay at one point in the first half and led just 18-10 at the break, before piling on 28 points in the second stanza to ensure they remain unbeaten in the competition ahead of facing Central Districts in the decider next Saturday.
The game was just minutes old when Ali Leiataua got on the end of a kick to open the scoring, but the joy proved short lived for Auckland with Wai-Coa-Bay skipper Dayna Bidois quickly hitting back with a try of his own.
Wing Caleb Tane then gave the visitors the lead, before powerhouse Auckland back Albert Fifita busted through the line for a 60-metre try.
A converted try to Mt Albert forward Wiremu Kaire on the siren, at the end of an exciting passage of hot-potato footy, gave the hosts an 18-10 advantage at the half.
Despite Wai-Coa Bays best efforts, the Auckland side proved too strong in the games second act.
A Johnson Murray try directly off a close-range scrum, another strike from Albert Fifita and a barging effort from the other Fifita on the park – Otahuhu prop Tupou Fifita – stretched Auckland’s lead out to 34-14.
Middle forwards Sione Pule and Feao Tongia powered over late for tries which made it 46-14 at full time.
Auckland 46 (Ali Leiataua, Albert Fifita x2, Wiremu Kaire, Johnson Murray, Tupou Fifita, Sione Pule, Feao Tongia tries; Caleb Laiman x3, Johnson Murray x2, Stanley Iongi x2 goals) def. Wai-Coa-Bay 14 (Dayna Bidois, Caleb Tane x2 tries; Bidois x1 goal) at Opaheke Reserve, Auckland.
A valiant Good Friday effort from Northland was not enough as they went down to Auckland White 40-32 to finish their NZRL National 20s campaign at Opaheke Reserve.
A strong start from Northland had them in the lead for parts of the first half, but they were unable to hold on in the second stanza despite Eroni Biukoto’s clinical hat trick.
The two sides went score for score through the opening half hour, with the superior kicking of Northland’s Kiles Kaiarake proving the only difference.
Biukoto’s second try late in the half looked to have given his side the lead at the break, before Patelo scored and Doux Kauhiva converted to lock the game at 22-all.
Manurewa half Teariki Ford took the game by the scruff of the neck, grubbering for himself to score, putting the Auckland side ahead – Julius Patelo then added another four-pointer soon after to increase the advantage.
Biukoto scored his third on 52 minutes bringing Northland back into the game, but this was countered by Oscar Amosa’s try out wide a few moments later.
Northland’s Dilano Henry Turner crossed under the posts with less than a minute to play to make the final score 40-32.
Auckland White 40 (Maddison Tekeu, Leon Marsters, Teariki Ford x2, Julius Patelo x2, Oscar Amosa tries; Doux Kauhiva x4, Teariki Ford x2 goals) def. Northland 32 (Jacob Hollobon, Kiles Kaiarake, Eroni Biukoto x3, Dilano Henry Turner tries; Kiles Kaiarake x4 goals) at Opaheke Reserve.
1st April, 2021.
Both Auckland Blue and Central Districts secured their places in the competition final with round 5 victories over Northland and WaiCoa Bay respectively. This week the Auckland-based teams play their catch-up games that were postponed due to the Covid-19 Alert level 3 lockdown. Northland and Auckland White will look to finish their seasons off strongly in their final outings while a win for Auckland Blue against a gritty WaiCoa Bay side could see them go into the final with plenty of momentum. Both games will be played at Opaheke, with Auckland White vs. Northland kicking off at 12 pm, followed by Auckland Blue vs. WaiCoa Bay at 2 pm.
All games are televised live on Sky Sport 4, as well as Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for our Australian viewers.
Northland vs. Auckland White.
Opaheke Reserve, Auckland
Friday 2nd April 2021 – 12:00pm
WaiCoa Bay vs. Auckland Blue
Opaheke Reserve, Auckland.
Friday 2nd April, 2021 – 02:00pm.
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has launched a new Swim School initiative in association with Swimsation through its NZRL Playgroup programme. NZRL is now offering complimentary swimming lessons to pēpi and tamariki in an effort to continue prioritising our communities in need.
Swimming and especially water safety are essential life skills for Kiwi kids. Aquatic facilities exist in almost all major towns; coupled with the endless access to coastal beaches, lakes and rivers; New Zealand kids are exposed to water dangers from a young age.
Despite swimming competency being crucial for our tamariki, many existing swim school programmes are too expensive for those in our communities. With the cost of living continuously on the rise, many families can not financially prioritise swimming safety.
Water Safety New Zealand reported in 2020 alone, New Zealand had a total of 74 drownings; out of these 74 fatalities, 28 were Maori/Pasifika.
Because of this, we have recognised the need to support our tamariki better when it comes to water safety, ensuring these skills are more easily attained and water safety education is more accessible to our communities.
These new Playgroup Swim Schools offer pēpi and tamariki free swimming lessons during the day and weekends at select Swimsation pools. At this level, parents or guardians are required to be in the pool with their children.
A Playgroup mother said she enjoys being able to learn beside her child and grow together. “I am more confident with taking him to the pools now, and the fact my son is learning to swim makes me feel better knowing he will be safer around water.”
An NZRL Playgroup father of five said due to financial restrictions, he has never had the opportunity to take his older children for a swimming lesson. Now thanks to Playgroup, his younger two tamariki have the chance to learn these essential life skills.
To find out more information on where you can enrol your child into an NZRL Playgroup, please contact;
Toyah Brooking | Playgroups@nzrl.co.nz
Confident using hip hold
Confident using up-right hold
Confident using front prone hold
Confident using side prone hold
Confident using cradle hold
Confident using supported back hold
Knows the Swimsation submersion cue
Show signs of readiness for submersion
Confident being submerged (Assisted by parent) – Level goal to move up
Standing jump with submersion assisted
Assisted submersion and pick up a toy
Assisted submersion with a release
Confident using extended back hold
Back float with supported back hold
Back float with supported extended back hold
Submersion with release and grip – Level goal to move up
Submerge and pick up toy
Assisted back kick
Unassisted back kick
Assisted front kick
Unassisted front kick
Assisted front to back rotation
Unassisted front to back rotation
Assisted front to back rotation – Kicking
Unassisted front to back rotation – Kicking
Jump into pool and roll onto back assisted
Jump into pool and roll onto back unassisted
Seated jump and u-turn to wall
Submerge, float and u-turn to table – Level Goal to move into our preschool level class
28 March 2021
A high shot gifted Central Districts with first points of the match as they opted for the two-pointer to get on the front foot early at Cooks Garden. However, Waicoa answered back with a try to centre Caleb Lepaio Gamlen giving the away team a four-point lead.
Waicoa were on the front foot until a quick right foot step from Central Districts centre Lennix Tovo gave Central Districts their first try of the game edging them in front by two.
Central Districts lost fullback Jayden Andrade-Kingi to the bin which saw Waicoa capitalise on the penalty to even the scores 8 – 8.
Despite being a man down, Wyatt Sootaga barged over for a try as Central Districts had the last say, heading into the break with 14 – 8 lead.
Errors from Waicoa saw them unable to capitalise on their attacking momentum early in the second half gifting Central Districts with good field position.
Jayden Andrade-Kingi returned from 10 in the bin to score Central Districts third try of the match. An impressive run from Karaitiana Hamilton saw him extend Central Districts lead to 24-8 shortly after.
Central Districts continued their momentum as Junior Te Foto barged over for another four-pointer. Andrade-Kingi then dived in the corner off the back of an impressive run to claim his second of the game extending the home sides lead to 36-8.
Herman Seumanufagai took advantage of a tired Waicoa defensive line adding another four points, as did winger Pose Teuilaepa before the full-time hooter sounded.
Central Districts with a clinical second-half performance earn themselves a spot in the NZRL National 20s final with a 46 – 8 win over Waicoa Bay.
26th March 2021
Round 4 saw big wins for Central Districts and South Island while Auckland Blue won the local derby over Auckland White 30-14. This weekend’s clashes start on Saturday the 27th, as Opaheke plays host to Auckland White vs South Island, who are still in the race for the final. Northland welcomes Auckland Blue to Whangarei’s Trigg Arena and lastly, Central Districts will be looking to secure second place against WaiCoa Bay in Whanganui on Sunday, kicking off at 12pm.
Saturday 27th March, 12:30pm
Trigg Arena, Kensington Sports Park, Whangarei.
Saturday 27th March, 2:30pm
Cooks Garden, Whanganui.
Sunday 28th March, 12:30pm
The much loved Sky Sport NZRL Rugby League Roadshows are back for 2021!
In association with the Vodafone Warriors and Sky Sport, New Zealand Rugby League is bringing rugby league to the regions to showcase our great game and encourage new registrations.
The Roadshows provide local league clubs with the opportunity to have a presence at each activation to connect more directly with members of the community and find their future players.
There will be plenty of giveaways and spot prizes on the day for participants.
In addition to this, Kiwi League Kids (12 and under) who register with a club will later receive a Sky Sport starter pack which includes a brand new OPRO mouthguard, Kiwis/Ferns poster, rugby league ball, and ball bag.
NZRL General Manager of Community Ani Cherrington, says: “We are excited to see the Roadshows return for 2021 as they were really well received by our communities last year.
“Although further Covid-19 lockdowns cut our initial planned schedule short, we are grateful that we can still visit both Taupo and Whanganui, especially alongside the scheduled National 20’s game at Cooks Garden.
“These Roadshows are an important way for us to showcase and grow our game. It’s great we are able to do this in partnership with Sky Sport and the Warriors, and we to hope see our communities turn out in force this weekend.”
The Roadshows are a free event and open to all members of the community.
Taupo | Hickling Park | Friday 26th March | 5pm – 7pm.
Whanganui | Cooks Garden | Sunday 28th March | 9am – 11am.
New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear about the passing of Kiwi #397 Reginald Cooke.
Cooke played seven Tests for the Kiwis initially being selected in the 1960 Rugby League World Cup team. He kicked 10 goals between 1960-64, playing in both the centre and fullback positions.
During this time Cooke toured Great Britain and France, he also played against touring Australian teams.
Cooke began his career in 1958 playing for Huntly South, he then went on to represent Waikato, Auckland Eastern Districts, Brisbane South, and Queanbeyan Kangaroos. In 1967 Cooke toured New Zealand as a Queensland representative.
New Zealand Rugby League would like to share their condolences with the Cooke whānau at this time.
22 March 2021
Earlier this month 18-year-old Christian Pese suffered a stroke while playing for the South Island against Auckland Blue in the NZRL National 20s, and right now continues to fight for his life in hospital in Christchurch.
Most of Christian’s immediate family are from Auckland, while his older brother Caleb is currently working to get home from Australia to be by his side.
A Givealittle fundraising page has been set up to help support the Pese family through this time.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE
20 March, 2021 | ARL
Auckland Blue remain unbeaten at the top of the NZRL National 20s ladder after beating Auckland White 30-14 on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue side trailed 10-8 at the break before producing a dominant second half showing which saw them cross for four tries and concede just one, to ensure the local derby went their way.
Fullback Ali Leiataua was among the stars for Blue, scoring the first and last try of the match and shutting down countless opposition raids with his defensive play at the back, while in the pack skipper Zyon Maiu’u was immense once again.
After Leiataua opened the scoring around the 20-minute mark, Auckland White hit back via Maddison Tekeu before both sides traded tries, first through Maiu’u and then White centre Julius Patelo.
The boot of Doux Kauhiva was the difference at the break, with his conversion of Patelo’s try giving White a two-point lead going into the sheds.
But it didn’t last long into the second stanza, with Howick’s Lonnie Papani scoring minutes after the game resumed and Soakai Taufa converting for a 14-8 lead.
Peter Uelese then scored to tie the game at 14-all, but from that point on it was all Auckland Blue.
Albert Fifita broke free down the left edge before looping around to score under the posts, with Taufa again converting, before Marist hooker Stanley Iongi burrowed over and Leiataua got his second to push the scoreline out.
Auckland Blue 30 (Ali Leiataua x2, Zyon Maiu’u, Lonnie Papani, Albert Fifita, Stanley Iongi tries; Soakai Taufa x3 conversions) def. Auckland White 14 (Maddison Tekeu, Julius Patelo, Peter Uelese tries; Doux Kauhiva 1 conversion) at Opaheke Park.
19 March 2021
After a fiery Round 3 of the National 20s, Central Districts’ upset victory over Auckland White has moved them into second place on the ladder. This weekend they will be looking to continue their dominance with a victory over Northland come Sunday in Wellington. This Saturday, the South Island team will be looking to redeem their loss against Auckland with a victory over Waicoa, while the much anticipated City of Sails clash between Auckland Blue v Auckland White follows at 2pm at Opaheke Park.
Forsyth Stadium, Dunedin
Saturday 20th March, 12:00pm
Saturday 20th March, 2:00pm
Jerry Collins, Wellington
Sunday 21st March, 12:00pm
11 March 2021
The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce that 2021 will see the much-awaited return of one of our most significant calendar events – the NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament.
After a two year hiatus, the five-day tournament returns to Auckland’s Pulman Park bigger and better than ever before.
Sixteen schools from across the country will battle it out for the ultimate Secondary Schools Premiership title alongside the Senior Boys Championship and an inaugural Girls Championship involving eight women’s teams for the first time in the competition’s history.
The tournament will commence on Monday 30 August, with the Finals taking place Friday 3 September at Pulman Park.
The competition is a Senior Secondary School Tournament with competing teams entering through their respective Zones / Regional qualifiers. Teams entering the National Secondary Schools Tournament must have a referral from their respective Zone contact.
In conjunction with this tournament and in succession to the inaugural fixture in 2020, New Zealand Rugby League will be selecting a New Zealand Schools (Boys 18s) team to play against New Zealand Clubs (18s) on Sunday 17 October 2021.
Venue – Pulman Park, AucklandCompetition dates: Monday 30 August – Friday 3 September 2021
Senior Boys Premiership– 16 Premier teams – 2 places per Zone (14), plus an additional 2 for Auckland.
Senior Boys Championship– 8 Championship teams – 1 place per Zone (7), plus an additional Auckland School.– Composite schools can also qualify for the Championship tier.
Senior Girls Championship– 8 Women’s teams – 1 place per Zone (7), plus an additional Auckland School.– Composite schools can also qualify for the Championship tier.
If you would like to receive more information, please register your interest here:
4 March 2021
This Sunday 7 March clash between Central Districts and the South Island is the only game for Round Two due to the Covid-19 reschedule.
Central Districts are coming off a second half comeback loss to Auckland in which they will be looking to prove themselves against the South Island team. The South Island team will be looking to follow on from their convincing 56 to 14 victory over Northland.
PLEASE NOTE – This game will have NO CROWDS due to Covid-19 restrictions while the remaining Round Two games (Northland vs. Auckland White and Waicoa Bay vs. Auckland Blue) have been rescheduled to take place on Friday, 2 April in Opaheke, Auckland.
All National 20s games are available live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox League, Kayo and Watch NRL for our Australian viewers.
Jerry Collins Stadium, Wellington
Sunday 7th March 2021