You’ll struggle to find a volunteer who has dedicated more of their life to rugby league than Jack Newson.
The 75-year-old was the well deserved recipient of the Male Pirtek Volunteer of the Year award at the NZRL Annual Awards earlier this year. This award recognises the tireless efforts of our sport’s behind-the-scenes legends at grassroots level.
As a Life Member of the Hornby Rugby League Club, Newson lives and breathes the game and is said to be one of the club’s biggest supporters.
“He is extremely humble, and never ever asks for anything in return. We as a club are honoured to be in his presence”
His involvement with the Hornby Rugby League Club spans over 65 years as a player, coach, executive member and life member, and he currently still plays for the Masters team. Not only does he help with skills days for juniors, he fixes and maintains the club and is always the first person to be watching and supporting around Canterbury’s fields.
Newson sat down with Andrew King from Christchurch’s Western News to chat about his life of rugby league.
So Jack, you have a longstanding tie with the Hornby Panthers, 66 years and counting. What got you into league?
“When I was growing up every young kid around the country wanted to be an All Black. But we were from Hornby and we wanted to be Kiwis. That was the difference, we are a staunch rugby league area. League dominated and I still love the game right up to today. It has been my life.”
Now you volunteer for the club and was named top male volunteer of the year by NZRL. Are there more people helping out nowadays or less?
“There is plenty of people who help out with the club and we have an excellent committee who gets a lot of work done. I just help out when I can and I don’t live far away. I go over there every week. I like to go to the schoolboys’ prize giving. I love watching the younger kids coming through. Gave up coaching but I really like watching them develop their skills. There is a lot of good coaches there now, that have
passed me. I used to coach 14s take them to 15s then to 16s and then drop back down and do it all over again.”
So what keeps you coming back to help out?
“It is part of my life. My love of the club, the sport all rolls into one. It is a major part of my life. When my boys finished playing I was a bit lost. I had been flat tack chasing teams here there everywhere then it just stopped. Now grand kids are coming through so it all started again.”
Following a massive season with the Melbourne Storm, Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Kiwi #804) burst onto the international rugby league scene with the Kiwis in 2017. His physicality turned heads at the Rugby League World Cup and has earned him a spot as a finalist for both Kiwis Rookie of the Year and Kiwis Player of the Year.
Finalists have been selected in all 12 NZRL Awards categories, with winners to be announced at an Auckland function on February 10.
Kiwis stalwart Simon Mannering (Kiwi #731) joins Asofa-Solomona and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Kiwi #779) as finalists for the top award while Asofa-Solomona will also face-off for the Kiwis Rookie of the Year title.
The Women’s Player of the Year award will be another heavily contested category with hard-hitter Teuila Fotu-Moala, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Player of the Tournament up against Kiwi Ferns hooker Krystal Rota and fullback Apii Nicholls-Pualau. Rota’s 2017 Auckland Player of the Year accolade will see her as a strong contender as well as Nicholls-Pualau’s dominance at the back for the Kiwi Ferns Rugby League World Cup campaign.
A special recognition award will also honour an individual’s service to the women’s game.
The full list of NZRL Awards finalists is:
Pirtek Female Volunteer – Naioma Chase (Dannevirke Rugby League/Mid Central), Sonyia Anania (Glenora Bears/Akarana), Fipe Fa’amoe Ione(He Tauua/Southern), Alana Lockhurst (Cooks Rugby League/Sothern), Sandra Hickey (Physical Disability RL/Akarana), Jasmine Tuli (Linwood Keas/Sothern), Victoria Malone (Marist Saints/Akarana), Karla Matua (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau), Chantez Connor (Otaika Eagles/Northland), Nicole Baker-Havea (Otahuhu Rugby League/Counties Manukau)
Pirtek Male Volunteer – Nathan Robinson (Country Cowboys/Aoraki/Southern), James Waetford (Ellerslie Eagles/Akarana), Will Harris (Wairau Taniwha/Sotuhern), Willy Simon (Hornby Panthers/Southern), Lawrence Erihe (Linton Cobras/Mid Central), Jack Newson (Hornby Panthers/Southern), Riki Shelford (Portland Rugby League/Northland), Jim Doolan (Otara Scorpians/Counties Manukau), Dennis Stewart (Trentham Titans/Wellington)
Grassroots Club – Northcote Tigers (Akarana), Taniwharau (Upper Central), Dannevirke (Mid Central)
Domestic Coach – Rusty Matua (Auckland), Morgan Kutia (Waikato), Rod Ratu (Auckland)
Referee – Jason Wilson (Canterbury), Chris McMillan (Auckland)
Domestic Player 16s – Christian Tuipulotu (Akarana), Caius Fa’atili (Southern), Sione Moala (Counties Manukau),
Domestic Player 18s – Steven Marsters (St George Illawara), Tyler Slade (NZ Warriors),
Seth Tauamiti (Southern), Jonathan Aumua Falelua-Malio (Akarana)
Domestic Player Premier – Aaron Jolley (Waikato/Hamilton City Tigers), Daniel Reuelu-Buchanan (Akarana Falcons/Glenora Bears), Phil Kingi (Akarana Falcons/Glenora Bears)
Junior Player – Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), Isaiah Papali’I (NZ Warriors)
Kiwis Rookie – Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm), Danny Levi (Newcastle Knights), Isaac Liu (Sydney Roosters)
Women’s Player – Teuila Fotu-Moala (Otahuhu Leopards/Counties Manukau), Krystal Rota (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau), Apii Nicholls-Pualau (Manurewa Marlins/Counties Manukau)
Kiwis Player – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (NZ Warriors), Simon Mannering (NZ Warriors), Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)