The National Premiership kicks off this weekend and for the first time will run alongside the Sky Sports NZRL National Women’s Tournament. Before the action begins, take a look at some exciting talent to keep your eye on when they take the field this weekend.
The Canterbury Bulls have seven rookies all under 21 preparing for their Premiership debut. The promising young players have worked through the South Island Scorpions Youth setup to finally reach pinnacle representative rugby league for their zone. Some of these boys include Sincere Harraway, Chanel Feala, Klayton Waikato alongside Caius Fa’atili who returns from Queensland due to COVID-19. The former NZ 16s and current 18s Representative Fa’atili is no stranger to New Zealand Rugby League, representing St Thomas, Hornby Panthers and made his debut as one of the youngest players in the competition in 2019 at 17 years old Fa’atili was a difference-maker for the Bulls during the 2019 national campaign.
Andrew Auimatagi has also selected Betham Champ, Nicholas Evans, Puia’I Patu-Vaega’au and Zac Riley as part of his 23-man squad.
The Bulls will have a new half combination from the previous two seasons, with 2019 New Zealand Resident players Brad Campbell having moved to Australia and Tevin Arona out injured.
New Zealand Resident 16s Head Coach Phil Gordon takes the reins from long standing Keith Hanley to Coach Akarana.
Setu Tu scored 15 tries out of 15 appearances in 2019 for Warriors New South Wales Cup team.
2019 New Zealand Resident
Eiden Akland joins Francis Ledger who topped the Premiership scoring table in 2019 with 38 points.
A raft of experience joins the team this year, players having been through the 20s NRL programmes or State Cup competitions in Australia. Most recently Preston Riki with 47 games for the Warriors at 20s and NSW Cup level. Isiah Vagana has 18 games under his belt for the Warriors 20s. Cole Waaka, Bostyn Hakaraia, Eiden Akland, Caleb Uele, Raymon-Ramoni Tuaimalo Vaega and Kalani Peahairangi-Charlie all with a mix of NRL 20s and NSW Cup experience.
Apirana Pewhairangi who moved back to New Zealand in 2019 from the English club London Broncos. Apirana made his professional debut in 2013 for Parramatta Eels and went on to gain international honours for Ireland earning 5 caps and went to compete in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Tumatauenga Te Koi at only 18 years old this year scored a hat-trick in Waikato Rugby League Grand Final playing for Turangawaewae. Turangawaewae went on to beat Taniwaharau 20 – 10.
Mikaere Beattie is expected to bring his experience playing for North Devils and Ipswich Jets in the Queensland competitions. He has returned to the Waikato team having played his 2019 season in Auckland.
Keanu Dawson a Backrow/Prop who has represented the NZ 18s as captain and has played under the New Zealand Maori Rugby League as well as reserve grade for NZ Warriors and 20s and for Titans in Australia.
Alfred Smalley will bring his experience from the NSW Cup and 20s with Manly Sea Eagles to the Stingrays.
Connor Purcell came off a solid 2019 season representing the NZMRL and NZ Residents against the English Community Rugby League Lions.
All National Premiership and Sky Sport NZRL National Women’s Tournament matches will be live on Sky Sport throughout October.