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.”
24 October 2023
The 18s Clubs vs Schools did not disappoint as they put on a stellar afternoon of rugby league.
Clubs were the first to strike as Kayliss Fatialofa created a half chance for Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea to finish off.
Schools however hit right back through lock Elijah Leaumoana as he crashed over from dummy half to even the scores. Both teams hung in the wrestle before winger Raphael Sio gave the Clubs side the advantage again, going into the sheds up ten points to six.
Sio carried his scoring form into the second half as he crossed over two minutes into the stanza. The teal outfit then went on a tear, as Mano-Le-Mamea put his edge rower into a hole and backing up to score under the posts.
With Schools under the pumped Rotorua Boys winger Malakai Cama popped up with the ball, beat two defenders and set up centre Kesaia Su’a to reduce the margin to eight. An obstruction by Fatialofa gave the Schools some attacking position and St Paul’s Sio Kali made his way over to put the game within two.
Sensing the moment, a looping pass from MVP Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea connected with Kayliss Fatialofa to once again extend the Clubs lead. Although Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea crossed late it wasn’t enough as Clubs ran out 26-22 winners.
23 October 2022
Kiwi Ferns Mya Hill-Moana and Kararaina Wira-Kohu took the opportunity to speak to all three New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) girls’ teams last night ahead of the first-ever national representative matches today at the North Harbour Stadium.
The U16 grade will see Auckland Invitational play against Aotearoa Whaanui at 12.00pm, while the U18 NZRL Clubs and Schools match kicks off at 2.00pm.
Both games are free to attend and LIVE on Sky Sport.
Mya (20), an NRLW Premiership-winner and Māori All Star, started her journey in Huntly at the Taniwharau Rugby League Club before making her way up the ranks in rangatahi (youth) tournaments, Waikato-based competitions and New Zealand Māori Rugby League fixtures.
“It was cool to speak to the girls because it reminded me of where I was at their age and how I started. I felt like I was able to give back to them by talking about my experiences,” Mya said.
“This certain campaign is awesome because it provides our girls with the opportunity to be scouted from everywhere.
“It’s growing the women’s game from a young age and preparing them for what’s to come, they’re already wearing the fern and the kiwi on their uniform this weekend.”
For Kararaina (30), who debuted for the Kiwi Ferns in 2020 v Fetu Samoa, her pathway looked quite different to Mya’s.
“My beginnings were opposite to Mya and I mean that in the most respectful way, where I come from in Northland (Whangarei) it’s union-based,” Kararaina said.
“But it’s nice to see a lot of young girls playing in U14-U18 grades now, making these games a win for women’s rugby league in general. More teams mean more opportunities for girls filtering through these channels.
“This is something we didn’t have when I was playing which is massive for the growth and development of not only players but the staff too.”
NZRL Head of Women’s Rugby League Luisa Avaiki Tavesivesi was a driving force behind the success of these matches, a long-standing dream for the former Kiwi Fern
“It was awesome to hear both Mya and Kat speak not only because they’re playing at the highest level but because they came through their own grassroots routes respectively,” Tavesivesi said.
“The female game is so important to us, with the Kiwi Ferns in mind these pathways have been developed not just for our rangatahi but to improve everyone including coaches, referees and administrators.
“What that means is if our emerging talent, even from the youngest age, get opportunities to develop and be their best in competitive competitions it’s only going to improve our Kiwi Ferns system.
“I’m proud, it’s actually kind of emotional to know our young girls are in a campaign just like we are at the Kiwi Ferns right now.
“There’s also so many obstacles we have had to go through to make these fixtures happen, when you see the product and the players are excited to play it makes all the work worth it.”
The Kiwi Ferns are headed to the Rugby League World Cup 2021 in York, England on Tuesday, October 25.
19 October 2022
This weekend brings us the return of NZRL’s Clubs vs Schools fixture and the introduction of the 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative matchups.
The Labour weekend brings us the first ever 16’s Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui representative game, where the best talent from across the motu face Auckland’s top 17.
Both sides claim considerable talent across their respective squads in a game that sees the young future stars of the game. The Wellington cohort of Billie Va’a, Jayda Maniapoto and Trinity Tauaneai headline an exciting and balanced Aotearoa Whaanui, which has strike all across the park.
Finals MVP Josinah Filisi Tauiliili leads the Auckland Invitational side out after an outstanding performance in the 16’s grand final. She is joined by teammate Danii-Nicole Gray and the exciting Tayla-Benet Masoe, who played at the back for the Auckland Vulcans.
The 16s Auckland Invitational is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team with strike all over, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita looked dangerous with every touch. Aotearoa Whaanui is one dominated by a solid Southern Scorpions side. Exciting talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Aotearoa side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Fanga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
Starting in 2020, the NZRL Clubs vs Schools clash features the best 18s talent Aotearoa offers. Although it was unable to take place in 2021 due to covid-19, it has already seen many of its participants go on to sign with NRL Clubs. Players such as Sam McIntyre (Gold Coast Titans), Daeon Amituanai (Penrith Panthers) and Josiah Karapani (South Sydney Rabbitohs) all found homes in the Telstra Premiership after playing in this match.
The 2022 game will feature an inaugural girl’s clash displaying the depth of the women’s game. NZRL Secondary Schools MVP Sharnyze Pihema headlines the match with Seriah Palepale and Giovanna Suani, also ones to watch for the Schools. The Clubs squad is led by Youth Tournament MVP Tamisha Tulua and Upper Central’s Alexis Tauaneai, who were electric in the girl’s competition.
Secondary Schools and Youth tournament MVPs Wasaike Salabiau and Ben Peni head the boys game that features top talent littered through the sides. South Island’s Oliver Lawry and St Paul’s Sio Kali also show the depth of ability in this matchup.
Squads can be subject to change due to injury*
All games are free to attend and live on Sky Sport!
16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI
Auckland Invitational 16 Girls versus Rest of Aotearoa 16 Girls; Sunday 23 October, 12 pm. North Harbour Stadium
AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 GIRLS
AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 GIRLS
18S CLUBS V SCHOOLS
New Zealand Schools Girls versus New Zealand Clubs Girls; Sunday 23 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium
18 GIRLS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:
18 GIRLS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:
Auckland Invitational Boys 16s versus Aotearoa Whaanui Boys 16s; Monday 24 October, 2 pm. North Harbour Stadium
16s AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL VS AOTEAROA WHAANUI
AOTEAROA WHAANUI 16 BOYS
AUCKLAND INVITATIONAL 16 BOYS
New Zealand Schools Boys versus New Zealand Clubs Boys; Monday 24 October, 4 pm. North Harbour Stadium
18 BOYS NZ CLUBS SQUAD:
18 BOYS NZ SCHOOLS SQUAD:
NZRL would like to acknowledge the selection of Leti Jeff Samuela (De La Salle College) who, after an awesome Secondary Schools tournament was named in the NZ Schools team but has unfortunately been to withdraw due to injury.
October 14 2022
The 2022 Boys representative fixtures boast an extreme amount of top talent from across the motu. New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce the return of the Clubs vs Schools match-up and the inaugural 16s Boys Auckland Invitational vs Aotearoa Whaanui. This 16s clash puts the top talent from around Aotearoa up against the melting pot that is Tāmaki Makaurau, whilst the 18s Clubs vs Schools fixture is a combination of the best players in both the NZRL Secondary Schools (SS) and Youth (YT) Tournaments.
The 16s Auckland Invitation is headlined by Akarana Falcon and Youth Tournament MVP Kaawyn Patterson. A team that possesses strike across the park, centre Taipari Wikitera and winger Ezekiel Tavita were electric for their sides in the Youth Tournament. The Aotearoa Whaanui outfit is one dominated by the South Island Scorpions. Exciting young talent Ezekiel Faga’ieti leads the Southern side, whilst Wellington Orca Maui Winitana-Patelesio directs them around the park.
Auckland Rugby League’s Thaine Ashford said, “The quality of rugby league across the Secondary Schools and Youth Tournaments has been exceptional.
Plenty of players outside the Auckland Invitational 18 were unlucky to miss out, but that shows the quality of talent in the ARL competitions and pathways.”
The Clubs vs Schools fixture is littered with outstanding talent across both teams. NZRL SS MVP Waisake Salabiau returns to the rugby league field alongside teammate Malakai Cama; they are joined by St Paul’s Sio Kali and South Island half Oliver Lawry. Not to be outdone, the School’s pack includes Malachi Tony, Elijah Salesa Leaumoana and YT Final MVP Rodney Tuipulotu-Vea. After a strong Youth Tournament, Counties contingent Kayliss Fatialofa, Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea, Jarome Falemoe and Ben Peni lead a versatile Clubs side. Scorpion Makaia Taufa slots in at dummy-half, and Team of the Tournament half Afaese Fa’avae leads the squad around the park.
NZRL General Manager of Football & High-Performance Motu Tony stated, “The return of the National Secondary Schools and NZRL National Youth Tournaments, after a Covid-19 enforced hiatus, gave our rangatahi and rugby league community a fantastic opportunity to come together.
“The tournaments showcased the enormous talent we have playing and participating in rugby league, and our inaugural female National Youth Tournament showed that the future of the Kiwi Ferns is bright and exciting.
“The efforts of those who performed exceptionally well in our tournaments have been recognised. They will get another opportunity to connect and compete with the rugby league talent throughout the motu.
I am excited about the talent we have that will compete in these fixtures and also proud that we can offer our young female players a representative opportunity for the first time.”
The NZRL Men’s Premiership and Championship finals take place this weekend as North Harbour’s QBE Stadium host all four sides.
The Premiership final features a rematch of the round three clash between Akarana and Canterbury, while 2021 National Competition winners Otago face the Auckland Vulcans in a battle for promotion.
After a devasting 50—12 loss, the Canterbury Bulls will need no motivation as they run out onto QBE.
Both teams will be boosted by significant ins, including Daniel Hartley for the Bulls and former Blacktown Workers half Eiden Ackland. The Akarana side is coming into the match-up undefeated and will be looking to repeat their success from 2020 with another NZRL Premiership.
Both teams have talented players to keep an eye on this Saturday. The aforementioned Hartley has been at the forefront of the Canterbury attack, directing and controlling games at will when he has played. Cook Island international Brody Tamarua and former Warriors NSW cup forward Nicholas Halalilo will be looking to continue their form and set a foundation for the Auckland side to take advantage of. Canterbury fullback Etelani Pouli will also be looking to create trouble on the fringes through his strength and speed with the ball.
The Championship final will be hotly contested as Otago secured their spot in the match-up last week against Southland. The 2021 NZRL Men’s Competition winners will look to take that momentum into this match-up against an experienced and talented Vulcans side.
Former Canterbury and Cook Islands standout Tevin Arona will be looking to steer the Auckland side after a standout round-robin. Otago’s Kiardyn Hatch is also one to watch; the young South Island centre knows where the try line is and will be looking to add another to his tally.
Get down to QBE or watch live on Sky Sport!
AUCKLAND VULCANS v OTAGO WHALERS – 11:05 am
AKARANA FALCONS v CANTERBURY BULLS – 01:05 pm
18 September 2022
Canterbury secured their place in the 2022 National Premiership final, winning 26-18 against a strong Counties-Manukau.
Ten minutes in, Canterbury struck first as Daniel Hartley carried on his form from last week, his ball to Tofilau put the centre in space, and a draw and pass saw Penetito Ilalio go over to give the Bulls the lead.
Counties were looking for a reply and found it through fullback Klayton Waikato who burrowed his way over from dummy-half to score against his former team.
The home side was resilient all game, and they weren’t to be outdone, Hartley again putting another man through the Counties left edge. This time it was five-eight Etilani Pouli finishing a right-side shift, pushing the lead to eight points.
Determined not to let the game get away from them, the visitors put the pressure on Canterbury. Eight minutes from the break Fiohiva Faingaa finished off a tremendous right side shift to bring the game to within a try, as Canterbury went into the sheds up 12-4.
With the first points crucial in the second half, Counties scored first as Jerome Mika grounded the ball after a Lorenzo Filimaua grubber beat multiple defenders. Filimaua was unable to convert again, which brought the game level.
Ilalio again put the home side ahead after Canterbury was able to surge down the field. A right-side shift caught the Counties side on the back foot, and the winger finished off a simple move to retake the lead.
Thirteen minutes from time, Canterbury buffed the lead as Sauni grabbed a short ball and beat four defenders to go over and push the advantage to 10.
Counties hit back no long after with interchange Fatialofa charging over, but the Bulls squashed a late surge as Sauni picked up his second try, seeing the game out 26-18.
Tries: Ilalio x2, Sauni x2, Pouli
Conversions: Hartley 3/5
Tries: Waikato, Faingaa, Mika, Fatialofa
Conversions: Filimaua 1/4
11 September 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted the season openers for both the Canterbury Bulls and Waikato Mana.
Both teams got into the wrestle early before a Waikato error led to an attacking scrum for the Bulls. Off the scrum veteran halfback Daniel Hartley was able to slice through to take the lead.
Waikato hit back through hooker Mahinga Rangi as he beat multiple defenders to score and level up the game. Moments later Rangi made it a double as Canterbury left no dummy-half at the play the ball and the Waikato hooker scooped it up and took it 40 metres to take the lead.
With five to go in the first half, Canterbury were able to crack the Waikato defense once again as Hartley put Reuben Te Amo through a gaping hole to score untouched. Both teams going into the break at 12 points a piece.
In a tight fixture, the Bulls were the first to score in the second forty as utility Devaun Thompson burrowed his way over from dummy half to open the second half account. Joshua Afamasaga doubled the South Island’s sides advantage as he bulldozed his way under the post making it 24-12. With under ten minutes remaining, the Canterbury side went on a tear with Hornby Panther Eti Collins, Samuelu-Latu and Daniel Hartley all scoring as they ran away 42-12 winners.
Tries – Hartley x2, Te Amo, Thompson, Afamasaga, Collins, Samuelu-Latu
Conversions – Hartley 7/7
WAIKATO MANA 12
Tries – Mahinga Rangi x2
Conversions – McLean 2/2
April 10, 2022
The Mid Central Vipers played host to the Canterbury Bulls in the final round of the SkySport Women’s Premiership as both teams clashed at Palmerston Norths’ Central Energy Trusts Arena.
Canterbury was the first to strike as a strong kick return from Bulls standout Mikayla Werahiko put the South Island side in striking distance. Off the ensuing play fullback, Dayna Napa went over breaking through a scrambling Vipers defense to go up 4-0.
Werahiko then got herself on the scoresheet attacking a cross-field kick to go over untouched in the corner. Moments later half Cassie Siataga hung another cross-field kick up, this time to the right-hand side which took a wicked bounce, falling into the lap of winger Sailai Pau to put the Bulls up by 12.
In the 13th minute, Mid Central hit back through hooker Paris Paul whose craftiness and footwork out of dummy half saw her beat several defenders to score under the post as the Vipers brought it to 12-6.
Mid Central started the second stanza in good stead and this paid off in the 45th minute as middle Agnes Faraimo barged over close to the line to level the scores.
Canterbury though off the back off Vipers mistakes crushed any momentum as Talosaga Manu crashed over in the same vein as Faraimo to put the Bulls up by a converted try. With ten minutes left to go, number 19 Theresa McPherson went over in the corner which proved to be the dagger as Canterbury went out 22-12 winners.
Tries: Napa, Werahiko, Pau, Manu, McPherson
Conversions: Siataga (1/5)
Tries: Paul, Faraimo
Conversions: Bates (2/2)
April 3 2022
Canterbury hosted Akarana at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai, and Akarana got off to an early start. Ten minutes into the proceedings five-eight Roimata Amosa-Tiro sliced through to score under the posts as they took a 6-0 lead. Several minutes later Akarana doubled their try tally as a left edge shift saw left wing Roelien Du Plessis go over untouched as the lead went out to 10-0
Minutes later, Canterbury Wing Mikayla Werahiko latched onto a cross-field kick, towering over the defenders to put the South Island team back into the contest.
Akarana half-back Laishon Albert-Jones trumped any Canterbury momentum though as she crashed over from dummy-half seconds before the half-time buzzer to take a 16-6 lead into the sheds.
Canterbury came out of the blocks quickly, number 18 Sailiai Pau scoring a controversial try in the corner as they brought the score to 16-10 early in the second stanza. An error from an Akarana bomb saw Canterbury allow the Auckland outfit dangerous territory, and fullback Lavinia Tahalaliku took advantage, shedding multiple defenders to score on the left edge.
A Left side shift saw Werahiko score her second for Canterbury bringing the game within a converted try as it stood at 20-14.
Towards the back end of the match, Akarana made Canterbury pay for a penalty that didn’t reach touch. The Auckland team shifted the ball towards the right edge and Albert-Jones held the ball up for Keri Ratima to score in the right corner. Du Plessis scored her double in the final minute as Akarana exploited an overlap in the Canterbury defence. 28-14
Tries: Roimata Amosa-Tiro, Roelien Du Plessis (x2), Laishon Albert-Jones, Lavinia Tahalaliku, Keri Ratima
Conversions: Laishon Albert-Jones (2/7)
Tries: Mikayla Werahiko (x2), Sailiai Pau
Conversions: Dayna Napa (1/3)
27 March 2022
Auckland’s Trusts Stadium held host to South Island and Waikato, with Waikato seeking their first win of the competition.
The South Island side did not take long to open their account, half Oliver Lawry taking advantage of a Uriah Tuli break to go over in the second minute. 14 minutes in Waikato hit back, hooker Tahere Kaio-Koroheke taking advantage of lazy ruck defense to sneak over from dummy-half. Te Awa Daniela converted to take a 6-4 lead.
South Island’s Lawry turned provider in the 19th minute as he put second-rower Tupou Kaufofona through from close range to retake the lead. Moments later Tuli again found himself in space and this time finished, scoring a scintillating solo try as the South Island side went into the break, up 16-6.
Five minutes into the second stanza a dummy half break from Kiardyn Hatch was turned into points as South Island shifted left finding Taani Fangupo who crashed over. Halbert-Pere making it 22-6. After receiving multiple penalties breakdown in the play saw Waikato prop Portman Paul fight off several defenders to bring them to with two converted tries. With five minutes remaining, Prop George Faiava snuffed out any semblance of a comeback crashing over under the posts with Jacob Lowe adding the extras.
Two minutes from time, Deijdre Siaki leapt over the pack to reign in a cross-field kick to score his first of the afternoon. Not to be outdone, Oliver Lawry connected with Jacob Lowe as he scored seconds from the buzzer to complete the victory.
South Island – 40
Tries: Lawry, Kaufofonga, Tuli, Fangupo, Faiava, Siaki, Lowe.
Conversions: Halbert-Pere (3/4), Lowe (3/3)
Waikato – 10
Tries: Kaio-Koroheke, Paul.
Conversions: Daniela (1/1), Stillinovich-Watene (0/1)
March 13 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted both South Island and Akarana for their first hit-outs of the 2022 Ruben Wiki Cup.
Akarana asserted themselves immediately, quickly moving into the swing of the game and converting this early dominance into points as Northcote winger Tupala Faaee went over untouched in the corner.
Ten minutes in, Akarana found themselves over again through Faaee as the Falcons went to a short side shift, capitalising on an overlap to make the score 8-0 to the visitors.
Dominating the opening exchanges, Captain Doux-Fiatau-Kauhiva intercepted a loose pass to put winger Esom Ioka down the right-hand side extending the lead to 14-0 as Joshua Tanielu converted.
South Island found a way through as three quick penalties pushed them down onto the Akarana line. Tupou Kaufononga was able to turn that field position into points as he crashed over around the ruck to bring the game to 14-6 going into the half.
Eight minutes into the second stanza saw Sebastian Su’a fight his way over for a four-pointer. A superb break by Ioka put Akarana into dangerous territory and a short ball by Fiatau-Kauhiva put Su’a into a hole where he was able to score. Faaee converted to make it a 20-6 game.
With the contest going back and forth, Akarana took the game into their own hands and were able to extend their advantage in the 60th minute. A clinical set-piece saw Lani Graham-Taufa push the score to a comfortable 24-6.
With 15 minutes left in the match, South Island produced their best displays of the afternoon as Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua and fullback Kiardyn Hatch put themselves on the scoresheet in quick succession to make the game a tight contest. Missed conversions were costly as they were unable to complete the comeback with Akarana sneaking through 24-20 to end round 1.
Next week South Island hosts Upper Central Stallions and Akarana meet Counties in the Auckland derby at Trusts Stadium.
Akarana – 20
Tupala Faaee (x2), Esom Ioka, Sebastian Su’a, Lani Graham-Taufa.
Faaee (1/3), Tanielu (1/2)
South Island – 20
Tupou Kaufononga, Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua, Kiardyn Hatch.
Jacob Lowe (2/4)
10 July 2021
Sean Spooner joins rarefied air in the club rugby league sphere this weekend, making his 300th premier grade appearance in the Canterbury Rugby League competition.
The 37-year-old will complete this remarkable achievement less than a year after Shane Tamatea joined the 300 Club – and Spooner shares many qualities with his legendary Riccarton Knights teammate.
Commitment, selflessness, leadership, competitive desire.
Talking to Spooner this week ahead of his milestone match at Crosbie Park, humility is another common trait between the pair that shines through.
“I haven’t really thought about (the milestone) too much until after the game last Saturday,” Spooner says.
“It’s come around pretty quick from when I started to now – I guess it’s pretty rare.”
Fittingly, he will play his 300th game against Papanui Tigers, the club Spooner came through the junior ranks at and made his premiers debut for as a teenager way back in 2002.
To put the veteran playmaker’s longevity in perspective, the NRL’s current longest-serving player, Benji Marshall, came into first grade in late-2003.
“The quality of players, the competition back then was very fierce and competitive,” Spooner recalls of his early days in the top flight.
“Any team could beat anyone else on the day and every team had good players – the Tigers had the likes of Eddie Hei Hei, Chris Newton, John Kelly. Quality players at the end of their careers but stars in their own right.
“Lusi Sione (Halswell) and Aaron Whittaker (Riccarton) were also just at the end of their careers when I was starting, they were where I am at the moment.”
After three seasons in the black-and-gold jersey, Spooner joined Hornby Panthers – the start of a fruitful 14-season tenure out west that garnered eight CRL Grand Final appearances and premierships in 2006, 2009-10 and 2012-13.
“It all started with ‘Jiggsy’, (Panthers coach) Brent Ringdahl, he brought me to the club,” he explains.
“I had a conversation with his son, Chris, and it went from there, we built a relationship up and it’s been like that ever since – we’ve always been pretty tight.”
Spooner rates his first and last Grand Final victories as his standout memories at Hornby: “Winning your first Grand Final has got to be up with the best. I can remember listening to the anthem before the game, it was an awesome experience.”
The 2013 Grand Final – the second straight between archrivals Hornby and Halswell to go into extra-time – was a classic, with James Baxendale’s 98th-minute penalty goal securing another title. It was especially sweet for the Spooner family, however, with Sean featuring alongside brother Gene.
“Our parents are pretty proud of that, Jack and Karen.
“It was definitely a standout one from a viewer’s perspective, ebb and flow, it could have gone either way. Both quality teams – Halswell were an exceptionally good team back then.”
While Spooner rates Ringdahl as the biggest influence on his career, he also formed a strong bond with the Panthers’ 2012-13 premiership-winning coach, Brent Stuart, and credits a clutch of experienced teammates for showing him the ropes at Hornby.
“‘Stuey’ was a person I really looked up to, very knowledgeable and I still keep in contact with him now. He’s definitely someone you wanted to be taught by – he’s a bloody good coach.
“Craig Smith and Aaron Harris are two guys who I really respect, they taught me a lot. About the jersey, the culture, everything it means to play for Hornby. Sam Wallace was also someone I enjoyed playing in the same team as.”
Spooner linked with Riccarton last year, leaving a club chock-full of experience that had played in eight of the previous 11 Grand Finals, for a rebuilding, youthful outfit.
The sea change has given Spooner a new lease of life, arguably helping prolong his admirable career.
“It was a fresh approach, I wanted to be a leader and try my hand at something different,” he says.
“A new challenge, some new goals. Really test myself towards the back-end of my career. I really felt I could bring some of that to Riccarton.
“Last season was the first the Knights were in the semi-finals for four years. As a club, I’m really appreciative of all their work. Shane (Tamatea) is an inspiration, the main person at Riccarton – our clubman. Our relationship has got really strong and he’s a good mate.
“Being a leader is something I always wanted to be in any team I played in. I wanted to set an example for people to show that hard work, dedication can pay off in the end. I wanted to be that player that everyone could follow.”
And it’s old-fashioned hard work that has underpinned Spooner’s ability to play at this level for 20 seasons – at least in more recent times.
“Earlier on I wasn’t a massive gym-goer, I was a bit lazy,” he confesses.
“But these past few years I’ve really looked after myself. Kids these days are getting stronger and bigger, so you’ve got to try and match them as best you can.
“The last five years I’ve worked really hard on fitness to be competitive. It’s not easy – you can get left behind pretty quick. I was just trying to take that work ethic to our team at Riccarton and hopefully in coming years it’s going to pay off.”
Spooner remains coy about the prospect of hanging up the boots – and if he follows the example set by Tamatea, who has turned short-lived retirements into an art form, we can expect to the wily ball-player running around again in 2022 and beyond.
“You’re a long time retired, that’s the call Shane uses too. I’ll play it by ear, see how the rest of the season goes – we’ve still got a few games to go. Look after the body and go from there.”
Canterbury Rugby League (CRL) is the regional organisation charged with leading, developing, promoting and fostering Rugby League in Canterbury. CRL has built a strong and loyal following across the Canterbury region for over 100 years. As an organisation CRL plays an important role within the community by delivering on its strategic plan, CRL will continue to build on its rich history and create a bright future for the game.
Job tasks and responsibilities
Lead the development and promotion of rugby league in primary, intermediate and secondary schools.
The primary focus of the Development Officer is the delivery of Canterbury Rugby League’s youth and junior coaching and development plan within the Canterbury District. They will also be required to assist in the overall planning and delivery of training to all coaches, however, their primary focus will be upon developing and supporting youth coaches in the club setting.
Skills and experience
For a copy of the Job Description please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply for this job please click here
If you require any further information please contact Duane Fyfe on 021-994-494.
Canterbury Rugby League is pleased to announce the appointment of Duane Fyfe as CRL’s new Chief Executive Officer.
Duane’s acceptance of the role renews his association with Canterbury Rugby League, having been employed as General Manager from 2004-08. It also extends his long involvement in rugby league – Duane has managed NZ Army, Junior Kiwis and NZ Residents teams, while he was the Whangarei-based General Manager of Rugby League Northland from late-2015 until early-2018.
Returning to the region in March, Duane comes to Canterbury Rugby League after a sixmonth stint as CEO at Touch Canterbury.
Duane has held leadership roles in the not-for-profit and business sectors, both as a volunteer and in a professional capacity, for the past 15 years. Duane brings vast and valuable experience in sports administration into the role, as well as a deep understanding of rugby league at all levels.
Duane will start in the position with CRL in early-September.
“CRL are very fortunate to obtain Duane for the CEO role, where he can bring both rugby league knowledge and business background to the game,” CRL Board Chairman Simon Doig said.
“Duane will be working closely with the clubs and key stakeholders in developing the new strategy forward for Canterbury Rugby League in the first few months.”
Please join Canterbury Rugby League and the CRL Board in congratulating and welcoming Duane into the CEO role.
New Zealand Rugby League introduced the ‘Be A Sport’ programme to encourage positive supporter behaviour and provide more enjoyable rugby league experiences for our community – from players, referees, coaches and officials to fans and spectators.
Adapted from an Auckland Rugby League programme, Be A Sport was launched in all seven NZRL zones’ junior programmes in 2017 and expanded into further grades this year.
Be A Sport’s ethos has quickly become a cornerstone of Canterbury Rugby League’s campaign to eradicate antisocial behaviour from the game, attract new people to rugby league and make people want to stay in the sport.
“From our perspective, Be A Sport helps change the culture and environment for our visitors to the park and the players on the field,” CRL Club Capability Manager George Lajpold says.
“It’s also designed to help recognise that the people we have officiating games are volunteers.”
Recruiting and retaining referees is one of the greatest problems facing grassroots sport – and rugby league is no exception.
The biggest obstacle to new refs picking up the whistle and current refs remaining in the ranks is abuse from the sidelines. One of Be A Sport’s foundational principles is that this behaviour is unacceptable.
“One of our real concerns – and that of the sport in general – is that people see a game of NRL and expect the same level of officiating at club level right down to the six-year-old grade,” Lajpold explains.
“Part of the Be A Sport campaign is to say that these are young people still learning the sport, it’s an environment that should be full of positive experiences, and recognising that young people are there to have fun.”
Lajpold says that creating a safer and more welcoming environment for referees is critical to the code’s crusade to bolster numbers, and to the health of rugby league in general. Without refs, you don’t have a game.
“At the moment rugby league, as well as a number of other sports, are going through a process of trying to lift the profile of refereeing and let everyone know that they’re there to support our sport.
“They aren’t there to have a huge influence, but they want to create a quality experience for our players and they are an integral part of our game.
“We want everyone on the sideline to have a clear understanding of what the referees are trying to do on the field – which is to create a better experience for players and supporters.”
Canterbury Rugby League is working alongside clubs to curb behaviour detrimental to creating a positive and safe environment for players, officials and fellow supporters.
Each club appoints two ‘Team Champions’, who are identifiable by Hi-Vis vests marked with the ‘Be A Sport – Just Support’ message. Where behaviour is not appropriate, Team Champions are to follow the steps as described on the BAS guide sheet.
“One of the key things about Be A Sport is that antisocial sideline behaviour should normally be dealt with by the club where that person is from,” Lajpold says.
“It’s not a confrontational thing – it’s an opportunity for a club member to stand alongside the spectator, ask what’s happening for them around the game and remind them of what constitutes appropriate sideline behaviour.
“And it’s a positive thing to see clubs take more responsibility for their own supporters’ sideline behaviour. It’s a collective responsibility – it’s not just CRL’s responsibility or a club’s responsibility on their own.”
Lajpold says the response from the clubs to the Be A Sport programme’s initiatives has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s been pretty cool. From a juniors perspective every club has taken it on board.
“When you see the Hi-Vis vests down at Canterbury Park on a Saturday or at a seniors game on a Saturday, those are the Be A Sport Team Champions – they’re the ones that are there to help create a positive environment and manage any inappropriate behaviour.
“It’s been well-received, and Canterbury Rugby League is quite open to going into clubs and having conversations with parents and club members and people in the community around what their sport is, the principles that go with it and what we’re trying to achieve in this space.”
Another key component of the Be A Sport programme is creating an alcohol-free and smoke-free environment on the sideline at games.
“In the past rugby league has perhaps been seen as a sport where that’s a regular thing, drinking alcohol on the sideline, which often leads to antisocial behaviour,” Lajpold says.
“What we’re saying from rugby league’s perspective is that actually we need to start changing our culture so people want to start coming to our games and have a positive experience while they’re there.”
While supporters responsible for antisocial behaviour at rugby league games are very much in the minority, it only takes one negative incident to ruin a day out at the footy for many.
The Be A Sport programme is one of the most effective tools at Canterbury Rugby League’s disposal to decrease those negative instances by promoting positivity, inclusivity and respectfulness.
“The main thing to understand is that everyone that’s involved in rugby league, coaches, managers, the person with the whistle in the middle of the field, are volunteers and they’re also developing in the game and learning,” Lajpold enthuses.
“We have a 31 percent turnover rate of people leaving our sport every year, and part of that is because of the experience they receive when they’re at the game on the sideline.
“The Be A Sport initiative is part and parcel of us saying that as a group we need to look at the culture that’s been there in the past, changing the negative aspects of that and creating a more positive one.”