The 2019 New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) season will kick-off in January with the 16s and 18s Talent Development Programme (TDP) at St. Peters College in Cambridge.

The TDP brings together the most talented 16s (16-years-old or under) and 18s (18-years-old or under) age-group rugby league players from around New Zealand, as they work towards a professional career, while also keeping them in New Zealand playing in local competitions longer.

In 2018, the TDP consisted of a 10-week programme with over 200 players from the age of 14 through to 18 participating. This saw 13 ‘satellites’ across the country centralised around four ‘hubs’.

With NZRL undergoing a number changes both structurally and internally, the organisation is now in a better position to strengthen the game nationally, reviewing how it operates to enhance the overall experience of rugby league for its people and wider communities.

Alongside these exciting changes taking place and the recent appointment of NZRL’s General Manager of High Performance, Motu Tony, the 2019 TDP has evolved into a revised programme.

Next year’s TDP will consist of a three-day camp during the January school holidays which aims to enhance the development of players and management staff in attendance, through a series of coaching sessions and well-being seminars that prepare the players to showcase their skills in a trial on the final day (Friday, 25 January). One of the objectives for this camp is to ensure the players are better prepared for the rigours of the NRL, not only on the field, but in their educational and career aspirations.

The TDP will provide those who dream of playing in the NRL and for the Kiwis, with resources and tools that encourage players to develop in New Zealand through rugby league, and in their academic studies with the support of their families and friends.

New Zealand is a natural breeding ground for talented league players with NRL clubs recruiting from across the country, now also with the inclusion of female players with the inaugural NRL Women’s competition. NZRL have therefore been granted funding from the NRL for the 2019 TDP continuing their support towards the development of player, management and match officials’ pathways in New Zealand.

In 2018 both the New Zealand Resident 16s and 18s teams completed successful campaigns. Both management teams established a great environment for the players which connected these individuals with the ‘kiwi way’.  Based on a review of the feedback from both the players and management in each of these teams, NZRL have offered the management of these teams a second year in their respective roles, creating continuity going into the TDP.

Trials on the final day will assist in selecting the 2019 New Zealand Resident 16s and 18s teams.


Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 January 2019 (Three-day camp)

St. Peters College, Cambridge

Note: This is a closed camp between Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 January however, the trial day will be open to all and is free of charge. Details below:

Trial Day Schedule: Friday 25 January 2019

10.00am – 16s Trial Commences

11.45am – 18s Trial Commences


2019 TDP 16s players

Akarana: Paaua Papuni-Abbott; Benaiah Ioelu; Tevita Tafea; Pita Wilson; Counties Manukau: Ali Leiataua; Kavan Thompson-Campbell; Francis Manuleleua; Ben Peni; Carlos Tarawhiti; Salesi Ataata; Mid Central: Arama Kite; Tuhokairangi Miller; Fatiauma Moeahu-Leota; Northland: Esmonde Parangi; Southern: Felix Fa’atili; Jaedon Wellington; Jack Campbell; Uriah Tuli; Nikau Waikato; Unafato Uasi; Ethan Faitaua; Auckland Vulcans: Nathaniel Cama; Filipo Whitehouse-Opetaia Tovio; Nathaniel Tangimataiti; Stanley Iongi; Heneli Luani; Michael Angelo Taufau; Sione Fotuaika; Sione Latoa Vaihu; Demitric Sifakula; Upper Central: Tome Poona; Cassius Cowley; Te Wano Ngamotu-Tahana; Manaia Ngataki-Matthews; Wellington: Poto Akavi; Joshua Williams


Management 16s:

Head Coach: Bejay Hewitt (Akarana)

Assistant Coaches: Chris Langley (Upper Central), Eugene Davis (Upper Central), Archie Jacobs (Southern), Pete Butler (Mid Central)

Managers: Ben Vaipaata (Aorere College); Marty Brown (Akarana)

Trainers: Adam Jones (Southern); Haze Rewiti (Mid Central); Iripa Rangi (Nz Warriors); Sean Whitanga (Counties)


2019 TDP 18s players

Akarana: Caleb Pese; Jonah Palota-Kopa; Jyris Glamuzina; Lani Graham-Taufa; Matthew Palu; Moala Graham-Taufa; Luani Tavake Naufahu Whyte; Sefa Roache; Temple Kalepo; Tj Devery; Totive Junior Tuileisu; Counties Manukau: Albert Talakai; Eteru Ropati; Feao Tongia; Josiah Karapani; Otukinekina Kepu; Paea Fotu; Semisi Sikei; Simisi Tapa; Sione Moala; Soakai Taufa; Tyrone Waipouri; William Fakatoumafi; Quinnlan Tupou; Peesi Vailangi Pasi Kepu; Mid Central: Brooklyn Herewini; Daeon Amituanai; Tyson Chase; Southern: Caius Fa’atili; Elijah Tuhura; Jordan Coleman; Levi Pascoe; Auckland Vulcans: Konrad Tu’ua; Upper Central: Sean Field; Tukimihia Simpkins; Wellington: Dallas Mcewan; Maui Wallace



Head Coach: Tusa Lafaele (Counties)

Assistant Coach: Cody Walker (Akarana), Daniel McEwan (Wellington), Phil Gordon (Akarana)

Managers: Junie Shelford (Northland); Tania Harris (Counties)

Trainers: Lee Paru (Southern); Jasen Mcarthy (NZ Warriors)