The first international Test match on New Zealand soil in over two years has officially sold out.

Saturday 25 June will see Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium at full capacity as the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns face Pacific rivals Mate Ma’a Tonga.

Over 26,000 fans will pack out Mt Smart to celebrate the return of Test match footy to Aotearoa’s shores and the return of the biggest rivalry in international rugby league.

The sold-out crowd goes a long way towards helping NZRL achieve a new world record crowd attendance for a women’s rugby league match, which currently sits at 18,000.

The Kiwi Ferns take on Tonga at 3:10pm while the Kiwis face MMT at 5:20pm.

“This is a historic occasion for rugby league,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“To celebrate the return of international rugby league to Aotearoa with a sell-out crowd is something special.

“This is a momentous occasion for fans, players, and our rugby league communities across the country,” he adds.

“It’s been a long time between drinks and a long time since a Test match sell out. What an occasion Saturday will be, one for the history books.

“Welcome back rugby league.”

June 22, 2022

Head coach Ricky Henry has named four Kiwi Fern debutantes to line up against Tonga this Saturday at Mount Smart Stadium (3:10 pm kick-off) NZT.

 Amy Turner (Broncos) and Page McGregor (Dragons) will debut in the centres, while Bronco powerhouse Roxy Murdoch gets her call up to the Ferns’ second-row.

2022 NZRL Sky Sport Women’s Premiership MVP Laishon Albert-Jones will debut in the halves alongside Kiwi Fern veteran and Roosters Premiership winner Raecene McGregor.

Manurewa Marlin junior Krystal Rota earns her second Test captaincy for the Kiwi Ferns, while Titan’s lock Georgia Hale joins Raecene as vice-captain forming a strong leadership spine for the relatively young team.

Māori All-Stars and Premiership-winning Rooster Mya Hill-Moana earns her second Test appearance as prop alongside newly signed Bronco and front-row standout Annetta Nu’uausala.

Madison Bartlett is named on the wing following her top try scoring efforts for St. George Illawarra this season, and Kiwi Fern veteran and newly signed Bronco hooker Nita Maynard re-claims her place in the squad after missing the 2020 Test due to being based in Australia.

“We have exciting new talent who all deserve this opportunity, and they’re gelling well with our leadership spine and more experienced names,” said Head Coach Ricky Henry.

“It’s extremely special to see Kiwi Ferns debut for their country as we all know what a representative honour means to any player, especially at the highest level.

“After a two-year hiatus, everyone is excited to get back out there in front of whānau and friends against a tough Tonga team who will be out for victory. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ferns give it their all Saturday.”

 

JOIN US as we aim to break the world record for a women’s rugby league crowd this Saturday.

 

Please click here for tickets to Kiwi Ferns v MMT on June 25 at Mount Smart Stadium.

 

KIWI FERNS v TONGA

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

3.10pm, Saturday, June 25, 202

  NAME CLUB KIWI FERN NO
1 Autumn-Rain STEPHENS DALY Newcastle Knights (2021, Current) 151
2 Madison BARTLETT St George (2021), Titans (Current) 144
3 Page MCGREGOR St George (2021)
4 Amy TURNER Broncos (2021, Current)
5 Katelyn VAHA’AKOLO Newcastle Knights (2021) 150
6 Laishon ALBERT-JONES Akarana Falcons
7 Raecene MCGREGOR Roosters (2021) 140
8 Annetta-Claudia NUUAUSALA Newcastle (2021) Broncos (Current), 127
9 Krystal ROTA (C) Newcastle Knights (2021) 124
10 Mya HILL-MOANA Roosters (2021) 155
11 Roxy MURDOCH-MASILA Broncos (2021)
12 Ngatokotoru ARAKUA Newcastle Knights (2021) 133
13 Georgia HALE Titans (2021) 122
14 Nita MAYNARD Paramatta Eels (2021), Broncos (Current) 137
15 Charlotte SCANLAN Newcastle Knights (2021) 103
16 Kararaina WIRA-KOHU Newcastle Knights (2021) 153
17 Christyl STOWERS Counties Manukau 156
18 Karli HANSEN Titans (2021) 152
19 Hailee-Jay MAUNSELL Titans (2021)

 

21 June 2022 – Veteran Kiwi Fern hooker Krystal Rota has been honoured with her second Test captaincy for this Saturday’s clash against Tonga.

Rota has been a focal point of the Ferns team, a mainstay at the hooker position after making her debut in the 2016 Anzac test victory over the Jillaroos.

The Manurewa junior was named co-captain for the Māori All Stars’ inaugural encounter with the Indigenous All Stars during the 2019 pre-season; she scored the winning try and received the Trish Hina Medal as player of the match.

Rota then contributed 19 tackles and 94 running metres to the Kiwi Ferns’ mid-season win over Samoa.

The veteran then starred in the Kiwi Ferns’ World Cup Nines victory and was at hooker again for the subsequent Test against the Jillaroos in Wollongong.

Rota’s leadership qualities came to the fore in 2020. After leading Māori All-Stars against Indigenous All-Stars for the second straight season, Rota skippered Counties Manukau to glory in the inaugural Sky Sports NZRL National Women’s Premiership.

She was then named Kiwi Ferns captain for the end-of-season Test against Fetu Samoa, producing a strong performance at hooker in New Zealand’s 28-8 victory.

“She’s an invaluable member of the squad and plays a crucial role in the Fern’s leadership spine,” said Head Coach Ricky.

“The impact she has on those around her, from players to staff, is evident and the leadership accolades she has under her belt speaks volumes.”

After a two-year hiatus, the Kiwi Ferns face Tonga at Mt Smart on Saturday (3:10 pm), where the veteran Kiwi Fern looks to lead her side to victory.

15 June 2022

Nineteen players have been selected for the upcoming Kiwi Ferns clash against Tonga on June 25 (3.10 pm kick-off) NZT at Mount Smart Stadium.

The long-awaited June Test will be the Kiwi Ferns’ first appearance at home after a two-year Covid hiatus.

Included in the Ricky Henry coached side is a mix of fresh talent from the NRLW and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, while experienced internationals make a return.

Māori All-Stars front-rower Mya Hill-Moana gets the call-up after her impressive 2021 NRLW Premiership win with the Roosters.

Sydney teammate and seasoned Kiwi Fern Raecene McGregor also cements her place; the three-time NRLW Premiership winner is joined by her sister Page McGregor who featured in this year’s Grand Final for the Dragons.

Young Titan’s centre Hailee-Jay Maunsell, who stood out in last year’s QRL Harvey Norman U19 competition, earns her debut selection. The 18-year-old was a part of the future Titans programme and was later promoted to the NRLW after making a lasting impression.

Australian rugby union 2016 Olympic gold medallist and Bronco Amy Turner receives her debut selection alongside fellow teammate Roxy Murdoch-Masila.

From the 2022 NZRL Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, the competition’s MVP Laishon Albert-Jones gets her maiden call-up after playing a crucial role in Akarana’s first Premiership title in 11 years.

Te Atatu duo Katelyn Vahaakolo and Karli Hansen were also named; both earned their Kiwi Ferns debut against Fetu Samoa in 2020, resulting in NRLW call-ups for the 2021 season.

2020 Kiwi Fern Rookie of the Year and Newcastle Knight Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly returns to the frame alongside Manurewa Marlin Christyl Stowers and seasoned Kiwi Fern’s Captain Krystal Rota.

Leading 2021 NRLW try-scorer Madison Bartlett was named following an impressive six tries for the Dragons this season. Former Veronica White medallist and 2020 Young New Zealander of the Year Georgia Hale and Gisborne-born Paramatta play-maker Nita Maynard also return.

After an impressive NRLW season with the Newcastle Knights, Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the year, Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala is locked in, as are her former Knights teammates, Ngatokorua Arakua, Kararaina Wira-Kohu and Charlotte Scanlan. Nu’uausala recently signed with the Brisbane Broncos.

“We’ve listed a group of individuals that have rightfully earned their spots, and we acknowledge them for their efforts in both the NRLW competition and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership,” Henry said.

“We welcome five new players to the team who I’m confident will flourish under our veteran leaders; we also see the return of some key names from our 2020 Test against Samoa, this time with debut NRLW seasons under their belt.

“This Tonga Test allows us to build a solid foundation ahead of the Rugby League World Cup come October. It’s been nearly two years since we have donned the Black and White jersey, so this Test back home in front of whānau and fans Is going to be special.”

Purchase tickets to the June double-header as NZRL aims to break the world record for a women’s rugby league crowd attendance.

 

For tickets to Kiwi Ferns v MMT, June 25th at Mt Smart Stadium please click here.

3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga
5:20pm NZT Kiwis v MMT

 

May 23, 2022

New Zealand Rugby League, in partnership with Mainstream, aims to record the highest ever attendance for a Women’s rugby league international, which currently sits at 18,000.

The record attendance was set at the 2008 Women’s Rugby League World Cup Final, where the Kiwi Ferns met Australia’s Jillaroos. 18 000 fans flocked to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium that evening as the Kiwi Ferns won their third World Cup in a row – 34 points to nil.

The women’s game in New Zealand has skyrocketed in recent years with the development of the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, National District 9’s and the plethora of youth and school competitions. These grassroots investments have led to a World 9’s Kiwi Ferns victory and the emergence of young Kiwi Ferns and Tongan representatives in the NRLW arena.

Off the back of the growing popularity of the game, NZRL and Mainstream believe there is no better time to chase a world record rugby league crowd than June 25 when the Kiwi Ferns face Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium, marking the return of international rugby league after a two-year hiatus.

The Kiwi Ferns last faced Tonga 14 years ago, when they earned a 40 point victory at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Both nations now meet again in June off the back of 2020 victories; the rookie lead Kiwi Ferns earned a 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa, while Tonga had a dominant 66-8 performance over Niue.

NZRL Head of Women’s Rugby League and participant in the 2008 grand final, Luisa Avaiki says, “Despite the Covid hiatus, our game and our female athletes continue to grow from strength to strength. There’s been widespread coverage of the NRLW over the ditch, imagine if we can celebrate the return of women’s Test match rugby league, back home to New Zealand with a new world record crowd attendance.”

Avaiki adds, “If we can rally our New Zealand based Kiwi and Pacific rugby league communities to get behind the women’s Test, just as much as the men’s, the impact on the game, players and fans will be monumental. Thank you also to Mainstream for their ongoing support of our women’s game.”

The late George Mann and his wife Mele Vaohoi Mann, the Founders of Tonga Rugby League and advocates for over 28 years quote the below.

“As Tongan Women’s National Rugby League representatives, we must be an inspiration on and off the rugby league field to inspire future players to represent our Kingdom.

“Mou hu ki loto mala’e o vainga ke tafe toto ma’a Tonga, ke mou mate maa Tonga”. In 2022 it takes a village to develop and inspire Tongan Women’s Rugby League players. HE KOE HAKAU OE AHONI KOE FONUA OE KAHAU. For an atom of today is an island of tomorrow.”

New Zealand Rugby League sends its deepest condolences to the whānau of Mele Vaohoi Mann who passed away last week.

 

 

 

THE RETURN

Te Hokinga Mai | Toe Foki Mai

Saturday, 25 June Mt Smart Stadium Auckland

3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga

Tickets from Ticketmaster!

April 28 2022

After over two years without Test match rugby league, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce, the international game is finally returning home.

Saturday 25 June will see Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium play host as the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns line up against Pacific rivals Tonga in a blockbuster double-header worthy of the wait.

The rugby league spectacle coincides with Matariki – the Māori New Year, falling on the inaugural public holiday weekend. The long-awaited international clashes will celebrate the return home to Aotearoa and the re-uniting of players with their New Zealand fans and communities.

Fourteen years have passed since the Kiwi Ferns faced Tonga women, where they earned a 40 point victory at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Both nations will now meet again off the back of 2020 victories; the rookie lead Kiwi Ferns earned a 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa, while Tonga women had a dominant 66-8 performance over Niue.

As both teams take the field come June 25, NZRL aims to achieve a new world record crowd attendance for a women’s rugby league match, which currently sits at 18,000.

Pre pandemic, the No.1 ranked Kiwis were hot off a series win against Great Britain and a 34-14 victory against their Tongan rivals in 2019. Despite their loss to the Kiwis, Tonga achieved a historic 16-12 upset over the Kangaroos in the same year.

After a two year hiatus, Saturday 25 June will see the return of arguably the biggest rivalry in international rugby league, as both nations will look to assert their dominance ahead of the October Rugby League World Cup.

NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this has been a long time coming.

“What a great feeling to finally have our Ferns and Kiwis back on the park, and even better at home. To celebrate Matariki weekend with an international Test double header that unites our fans and communities in celebration is special.”

Peters adds, “We have been working with the NRL for some time now to produce an international weekend on both sides of the Tasman during the origin window. June 25 will also see Samoa play Cook Islands and PNG face Fiji in Campbelltown before Ampol State of Origin the following day.

“We encourage everyone to make their way to Mt Smart come June 25 to break the crowd attendance record for a women’s Test and celebrate the return of international rugby league to New Zealand shores after some challenging years.”

Tonga Head Coach Kristian Woolf says, “We are excited about the opportunity to represent the proud nation of Tonga for the first time since the successful campaign against Australia and Great Britain back in 2019.

“This opportunity has been a long time coming, so we can’t wait to face the Kiwis again. This will be an important match for us as we look to reunite the team and also give some of our young players a chance to represent their country ahead of the World Cup,” Woolf concludes.

Hon. Poasi Mataele Tei, Acting Prime Minister of Tonga, says, “This is very exciting news for Tonga, and we welcome the opportunity with open hearts. It has been a tough ride for all Tongans around the world, especially the last three months, but this match between New Zealand and Tonga will certainly uplift Tongan spirits as we look forward to another successful World Cup campaign in England.”

Auckland Unlimited Head of Major Events, Chris Simpson, says the excitement’s building in Tāmaki Makaurau for what will be a fantastic event.

“Aucklanders are avid rugby league supporters, and to have New Zealand and Tonga play at Mt Smart will be exhilarating,” says Simpson.

“We encourage league fans from across New Zealand to make Mt Smart and Tāmaki Makaurau their destinations of choice this Matariki long weekend – it’s going to be huge!”

International Rugby League Chair Troy Grant says, “It is great to see international rugby league back on the menu in the Southern Hemisphere, and what a blockbuster to go with. I think the whole world is waiting to see clashes such as the Kiwis against Tonga as it’s the appetiser for what is to come at the World Cup and then on a regular basis from 2023 onwards.”

 

 

THE RETURN

Te Hokinga Mai | Toe Foki Mai

Saturday, 25 June Mt Smart Stadium Auckland

3:10pm NZT Kiwi Ferns v Tonga

5:20pm NZT Kiwis v Tonga

LIVE on Sky Sport 4 and Channel 9 for Australian viewers.

Tickets on sale Tuesday from Ticketmaster, NZRL to release ticket link in the coming days.

 

April 14 2022

New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce an NRLW Merit team for 2022 after a stellar rugby league season.

Kiwi Fern talent such as Madison Bartlett, Raecene McGregor, Mya Hill-Moana and Leianne Tufuga were all on display, showcasing our wāhine on the biggest stage. This NRLW campaign saw plenty New Zealand talent shine as household names in their respective rugby league clubs.

These players were selected on their form throughout the NRLW season.

18-year-old Titan Hailee-Jay Maunsell is named out the back as Leianne Tufuga, and the top try scorer in the competition’s history, Madi Bartlett, complete the back three. Dragons Page McGregor joins the explosive Katelyn Vaha’akolo, while in the halves, Raecene McGregor is partnered with the exciting young talent of Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly.

Young bulldozer Mya Hill-Moana is partnered in the middle by the class experience of Annetta-Claudi Nu’uausala and Georgia Hale while wrecking ball Amber Hall and Knights Charlotte Scanlan see themselves on the edges. Parramatta playmaker and experienced Kiwi Fern Nita Maynard slots into the team as the hooker.

 

NRLW NEW ZEALAND MERIT TEAM

 

1 Hailee-Jay Maunsell
2 Leianne Tufuga
3 Katelyn Vaha’akolo
4 Page McGregor
5 Madison Bartlett
6 Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly
7 Raecene McGregor
8 Mya Hill-Moana
9 Nita Maynard
10 Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala
11 Amber Hall
12 Charlotte Scanlan
13 Georgia Hale

 

29 March 2022

The regular season of the rescheduled 2021 NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership has wrapped up. The St George Illawarra Dragons, Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters have all secured their spots in the semi-finals this weekend.

Let’s look back on our Kiwi Fern talent in round five.

Illawarra Dragons

Dragon’s winger Madison Bartlett racked up 117 metres to go with a try and two tackle busts. Her intercept effort during the second half broke the spirits of the Roosters, who had the momentum for most of the contest. Bartlett, week in week out, continues to prove she is dangerous in and around the ball and definitely one to watch in the upcoming NRLW Finals.

Brisbane Broncos

Amber Hall had another powerhouse performance we’ve come to expect. Hall was at her rampaging best at Suncorp Stadium, charging her way over the line in the second half while racking up 214 metres with four offloads and four tackle busts.

Newcastle Knights

Five-eight Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly played a massive part in the match’s opening try. A high kick from Stephens-Daly bounced over the Titans defender, and debutant Paige Parker was on hand to score her first try in the NRLW. Katelyn Vaha’akolo played one of her best games of the season. Vaha’akolo posted up a total of 143 meters, 22 post-contact meters and the most line breaks in the game. She showcased her speed as a winger and attacking threat, scoring her first try of the season. Charlotte Scanlan was immense for the Knights, topping the game’s most tackles and fantasy points. Veteran Annetta Nu’uausala showed her veteran class and savy, racking up 126 meters, a staggering 42 post-contact meters, six tackle breaks and 19 tackles in the game. The Knights end their campaign for the 2021 season, focusing on the 2022 campaign at the back end of the year.

Sydney Roosters

Playmaker Raecene Mcgregor continues to prove her skilled ability as a halfback, racking up a total of 107 kicking metres.

Kiwi Fern prospect Leianne Tufuga had a chance in the 35th minute of the game, swooping on a loose pass to streak 30 metres downfield, putting the Roosters in great field position. She also ended the game without missing a single tackle. Tufuga has made her claim as one of the best young players in the competition and will be one to watch in the finals.

 

The NRLW ladder after round 5

 

Semi-Finals Matchups:

 Dragons vs Titans – Sunday 3rd April, 2:00 pm NZT

Broncos vs Roosters – Sunday 3rd April, 3:45 pm NZT

 

 

March 15 2022

Into round three of the NRLW competition, the Kiwi Ferns continue to stamp their mark on the game.

Roosters

The Roosters were too much for the Knights earning their first win of the season. Playmaker Raecene McGregor looked much sharper this game. Her excellent decision-making created the space that led to both the Roosters’ opening two tries. Mya Hill-Moana continues to make an impact every chance she gets on the field.

Titans

It was a tough loss to take for the Titans, as they fell short against the Eels, but that didn’t stop Georgia Hale from being her best out on the field. Hale managed to make a 100% efficiency tackle rate with her 65 meters again, demonstrating why she is among the game’s elite.

Broncos

A brave Brisbane Broncos outfit dug deep to fight off the Dragons 22-18 in an enthralling top-of-the-table clash. Amber Hall once again showcased why she is one of the best forwards in the game—managing a team-high 164 running metres in her 50 minutes of action.

Knights

The Newcastle Knights suffered their third defeat against the Roosters. Despite the loss, Charlotte Scanlan was immense for the Knights, topping their tackle chart with 36 tackles and a 97.3% efficiency rate. One of Newcastle’s most consistent performers, Annetta Nuuausala, led from the front again with a try, 85 running metres, four tackle busts, three offloads and 18 tackles. Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly made two crucial tackles in both halves. Late in the first half, a crunching tackle on one of the Rooster’s standouts, Jessica Sergis, leading to a Roosters mistake. Stephens also made another strong fifth play tackle on the Rooster’s try line to force another error close to the line.

 

The NRLW ladder after round 3.

 

Round 4 Matchups:

Titans vs Broncos – Saturday 19th March, 2:50 pm NZT

Eels vs Roosters – Sunday 20th March, 2:00 pm NZT

Knights vs Dragons – Sunday 20th March, 3:45 pm NZT

07 March 2022

Another week has passed of scintillating NRLW action, and more of our Kiwi Ferns have made their mark on the game, showing their skill on the highest level.

Roosters

Kiwi Fern prospect Leianne Tufuga carried on her momentous start to 2022 by scoring her first ever try in the NRLW. Tufuga capped off a brilliant right-side shift after putting the Roosters in good field position following a barnstorming run. Raecene McGregor also had a solid game racking up 262 kicking metres while Mya Hill-Moana impacted the game off the bench with eight hit-ups for 57 metres.

Titans

Although going down to a clinical Roosters outfit, Georgia Hale again was at her consistent best, making 23 tackles to go along with 70 metres of the bench. Wider squad member, Shannon Mato also looked good, taking ten hit-ups for 83 metres and helping the Titans get on the front foot until an unfortunate concussion ended her evening.

Broncos 

The Broncos were at their damaging best in their 26-10 victory over the Newcastle Knights. The torrential rain at Wollongong’s Win Jubilee could not stop Amber Hall from dominating the middle. 16 hit-ups for 142 metres which included 5 line breaks and an astonishing 67 post-contact metres, Hall was at the centre of the Bronco’s success. No try this weekend for another Kiwi Fern prospect Roxy Murdoch, but she was solid in her task totalling 17 tackles and 44 metres in her 40 minutes of action.

Knights

A tough loss to take, but the Kiwi Fern contingent in Newcastle continues to grow stronger and stamp their mark on the competition. Five-eight Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly was immense for the Knights, topping their tackle charts with 29 in the most difficult of weather conditions. Katelyn Vaha’akolo again showed her prowess as one of the most lethal attacking wingers in the world while being denied a try. Vaha’akolo posted 108 running metres and 51 from dummy-half, demonstrating her knack to create space when there isn’t. veteran Anneta Nu’uasala ran for 127 metres, and Maitua Feterika scored her first four-pointer of the campaign off the bench, including 70 metres and a line break. Kiwi Fern captain Krystal Rota also claimed a 96% tackle efficiency, being at her consistent best.

Dragons

The conditions of Win Stadium also didn’t favour the dragons as the heavens opened in the second stanza. This wouldn’t stop Madi Bartlett from putting in another solid performance as she ran for 98 metres averaging ten a carry. She added on three tackle breaks and five tackles on route to a 10-0 shut out of the Parramatta Eels.  

 

Round 3 Matchups:

Roosters vs Knights – Saturday 12th March, 2:50pm NZT

Dragons vs Broncos – Sunday 13th March, 2:00pm NZT

Eels vs Titans – Sunday 13th March, 3:45pm NZT

22 April 2021 – Ashley Stanley, Newsroom

Kiwi Fern Christyl Stowers has faced some tough times – from depression to crippling arthritis. Now she’s part of a bold initiative with her league club giving women tools for on and off the field. 

Sport saved Christyl Stowers’ life. 

When she needed to escape periods of her childhood, the now 28-year-old found peace on the footy field. 

Stowers says she witnessed domestic violence growing up. “That was hard for me. But I found a safe place in sport,” she says. “The only reason why I played footy was because it was the only time I felt clear-minded. It gave me something really positive to focus on. 

“I had some stuff happen to me which was really challenging and I always found that when I had sport in my life, I was just happy.”

Stowers, now a Kiwi Fern, is at a stage where she wants to help others in similar situations. Admittedly, she wasn’t one for paying attention at school, but she’s committed to studying online for a certificate in life coaching. 

“I’m doing it because I want to be able to help others who may have had a difficult time in their childhood,” says Stowers, more commonly known as Sharky. “I just want to help people because I know you can get into some dark places.” 

She’s overcome a fair few barriers in her lifetime. Last year her father died from bowel cancer – he had been living with the illness for four years. And at the same time, Stowers was battling with depression. 

“It was just from a lot of things that I hadn’t dealt with when I was younger,” says Stowers.

And then just after her dad’s death, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. 

“It’s an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks the healthy joints in your body causing chronic inflammation. So I’m dealing with that at the moment and still trying to play footy,” she says. 

Stowers is wanting to fulfil her “big dreams” of playing for New Zealand at the Rugby League World Cup at the end of this year in England.

She’s in the wider training squad after making her Kiwi Ferns debut late last year against the Fetu Samoa Invitational side, and has also represented the Māori All Stars over the last two years. 

Her parents and siblings are the motivation to push through the pain and keep playing. “I guess I learned it from my dad. Seeing his struggles with cancer was really bad and he was in so much pain,” Stowers says. 

“But he always smiled, he just never gave up really. I just keep showing up every day, just to make them proud and I guess I just want to keep doing better.” 

It’s painful, says Stowers. Some days she can’t get out of bed without assistance. But other days she can get through a training session. “It’s just all about training my mind to block the pain out really,” she says. “But I found the less I do, the more sore I am. It’s strange, a catch-22 really.” 

Stowers has an injection in her stomach every week to help manage the arthritis, but  the side effects include nausea, fatigue, acne breakouts, weight gain, breathing issues and longer recovery times. 

She’s been back on the footy field since February as part of her club’s new Māreikura girls and women’s rugby league development programme. 

As a senior player at the Manurewa Marlins, Stowers plays an important role in mentoring and training alongside the young players coming through. 

“We just train with the girls and try to encourage them. We never really had that when I was younger; I definitely wish I had it, I may have been better when I started,” she laughs.

She used to play rugby but gave league a go about five years ago and has been a member of the Marlins’ grand final champions in 2017 and 2018. She also won the inaugural Sky Sports New Zealand Rugby League national women’s premiership title with Counties Manukau last year.

“It’s really beneficial because if you grab the talent when they’re young, they learn all the right things to do early and will probably have longer careers,” Stowers says. Off-field she will start working in a learning support role, teaching different sporting skills to children at Māngere Central School in May.

Former provincial rugby representative and local sporting legend Karla Matua created the programme from scratch after seeing a need to do things differently. 

“I just got frustrated knocking on doors and thought ‘Oh well, we just have to make it happen ourselves’. If we come up with something that’s good then we can share it with other clubs too,” says Matua, who wears a number of hats in the community. In her day job she works for Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation, in a role focused on Māori communities staying active. 

She then volunteers at the Marlins, coaching and sitting on their committee, overseeing the women’s and girls’ grades. She also serves on Auckland Rugby League’s advisory committee, encouraging women and girls to stay in the sport.

Matua grew up in a “leaguie” household in west Auckland but went onto rack up over 100 senior games in rugby for Manurewa. Her brothers played the 13-man code, parents were involved in the local league club, and her husband, Rusty, is a player and coach, who used to coach the Kiwi Ferns and Māori sides. And their children also play. It’s a real family affair. 

The Māreikura programme was built over time and was informed by what Matua has seen, what the coaches know, and input from families and players. “It’s really reflective of the girls in front of us,” she says. “It’s purpose-built, not just to them, but to the needs of their family and the needs of our community. 

“There’s an amazing pathway now with NRLW, so it’s about strengthening what we’ve got at club level.” 

There’s a nationwide push to to strengthen and widen the female talent pool in rugby league both on and off the field, with the NZRL recently launching the  ‘Aspiring Her’ programme.

A key difference with the Māreikura development programme is the foundations are not based around on-field performances. “I think most programmes are about winning games, winning grades, becoming this, becoming that, and that’s not even on our landscape,” Matua says.

“Not at any stage have we talked about winning our grade or winning games. That’s not what drives this. I think that’s really important because that’s not the end game.” 

Matua says it’s about the development of young women as individuals. “Just giving them tools that they can take into life. Whether it’s in sport, whether it’s a leader within their whānau or their school, whether it’s in confidence or body awareness,” she says.

“It’s this overall holistic wellbeing. Because when you have strong confident girls, there’s just a natural alignment that carries over into their sport and into other aspects of their life.” 

The eight-weekprogramme started in February and has focused on conditioning. “The biggest thing that came from our girls was they wanted to be fitter. They wanted to be better prepared because that was probably one of the work-on areas after playing a season.”

A small amount of funding allowed Matua to approach a local Māori woman to help run the fitness component of the programme. The three sessions each week did not deter players. Up to 50 women were attending each pre-season training.  

The funding also meant equipment could be purchased specifically for the women’s teams. Up until then, tackle bags and training resources were being used from the men’s teams which are usually bigger.

The programme also includes education around hydration, nutrition and how to look after themselves. “It’s real simple nutrition because the reality is we have to work with what kai [food] is inside their cupboards. So we’ve stripped that right back to make it real practical,” says Matua. 

“We’re sharing information around how to stretch because they’re not getting this education anywhere else. They don’t know about lactic acid, they don’t know how to keep their bodies in tip top shape, so we’re trying to load them with information and tools.” 

The programme wraps up with a two-day camp focusing on team building, leadership activities, goal-setting and mentor-matching. Training for the mentors is also being explored. 

Camp activities will be based in Manurewa so the team can learn the history of their community. “We’re going to learn about the maunga, the moana; we’re going to try and lock in that sense of connectivity to our area,” says Matua, who’s lived in Manurewa for 20 years and spent most of her working career with youth in south Auckland. “Then we’ll finish with a big kai with all our families to launch our season.”

To extend the players’ development and stay connected with the community, Matua has also organised senior members to go into local schools and hold training sessions for young girls. 

Even if players switch codes or clubs, Matua will be happy knowing they have tools to assist whatever pathway they choose. They’re building layers of education and knowledge.

“And then maybe at the end of the season we might get some results. But if we don’t, we don’t,” she says. “I just still believe whatever we do is of value, it’s going to benefit them and it’s going to make an impact.” 

December 16, 2020

James Fisher-Harris and Krystal Rota have been named the 2020 New Zealand Rugby League Players of the Year for the first time in their careers, while Dylan Brown earned Young Kiwi Player of the Year for the second year running and Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally took home Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year.

In a season that saw no Kiwi Internationals due to the ongoing implications of Covid-19, the 2020 Kiwis High-Performance Awards were judged solely on NRL performance. The Kiwi Ferns Awards have been credited on international merit due to their clash against Fetu Samoa Invitational which was the only New Zealand Rugby League International for the year.

2020 Kiwis Player of the year, James Fisher-Harris (Kiwi #801), was named 2020 Dally M Prop of the year and earned recognition as one of the NRL’s best and most hardworking forwards. Passing the 100-game milestone for the Panthers, he led the competition in post-contact metres, was the top forward in terms of total run metres and played an integral role in the Panthers’ drive to their first grand final in 17 years.

Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “James has performed consistently right throughout the year at such a high standard and to make it to the grand final is a real credit to him.”

“It’s been a pleasure to watch him develop into the player he is, one of his biggest strengths is consistency, you know what he’s going to deliver for his team and he’s a step above where he’s ever been and how he performs. He’s a quiet achiever but he’s all about action. James is a clear asset to any team he’s a part of and is well-deserving of this accolade.”

Captaining her country for the first time, the 10 Test veteran Krystal Rota and 2020 Kiwi Fern player of the year,  led the Kiwi Ferns to their 28-8 win over Fetu Samoa Invitational in November. No stranger to the captaincy role, 2020 also saw her captain the Māori All-Stars as well as the Counties Manukau Stingrays, leading them to their 11th straight women’s title in the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership.

Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “This was Krystal’s most influential year. I knew she had leadership capabilities from watching her in the Māori All-Stars and throughout her Counties campaigns but these qualities were definitely on display in Kiwi Ferns camp.”

“Captaining your country is whole other ball game, it’s the highest level of leadership and responsibility a player can have and she rose to the challenge.  A worthy recipient and these qualities will only continue to grow.”

For the second year running, Kiwis Junior Player of the Year, Dylan Brown cemented his place in the NRL as one of its elite playmakers. Brown made 16 regular-season appearances for Paramatta, with nine line-breaks, 52 tackle-busts, 11 forced dropouts and five tries. At just 20 years of age, he was instrumental in the Eels’ run to the playoffs drawing praise from the highest levels of the game for his defence and multi-faceted attack.

Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says, “A real quality Dylan has shown is his ability to improve every time he steps out on the field.”

“He’s grown as a player and he had a taste of the Kiwis at the Nines last year but I know a real driver for him is to earn a Kiwis Test jersey and he’s definitely heading in the right direction. Watching him push his team around the park, putting his body on the line, growing his leadership capabilities but at the same time building his own game has been pleasing to watch. He’s maturing as a player and showing his true character both on and off the field.”

2020 Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year, Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally, enjoyed a meteoric rise after switching to rugby league in 2020.

Named MVP of the inaugural NZRL National Women’s Championship after her stand-out performance at full-back for the Upper Central Stallions, she then made her international debut at five-eighth for the Kiwi Ferns against Fetu Samoa Invitational.

The 24-year-old’s skills were on display at Mt Smart Stadium, as she played a key hand in two tries before scoring two more of her own, including a blistering 50-metre effort.

Coach Ricky Henry said, “Autumn-Rain scored three tries in the first ever game I watched her play, she’s an outstanding talent that seems to have found her home with rugby league.”

“She’s willing to learn and grow, initially playing out of position but rising to the challenge. She wreaked havoc on the field, she’s explosive, fast and these skills will only mature. She’s definitely one for the future.”

 

2020 High-Performance Winners:

 Kiwis Player of the Year – James Fisher Harris

Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year – Krystal Rota

Kiwi Ferns Rookie of the Year – Autumn-Rain Stephens Dally

Kiwis Young Player of the Year – Dylan Brown

 

2020 NZRL Community Award Winners

Grassroots Club of the Year – Mangere East

Domestic Men’s Player of the Year – Francis Leger

Domestic Women’s Player of the Year – Harata Butler

Domestic Coach of the Year – Phil Gordon

U16s Player of the Year – Tre Fotu

U18s Player of the Year – Sam McIntyre

Match Official of the Year – Paki Parkinson

Pirtek Volunteer of the Year – Shayne Wassel

8 November 2020

Veteran Kiwi Fern and trailblazer Honey Hireme-Smiler has today announced yesterday’s International against Fetu Samoa was her last.

Her 32 Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey includes four World Cups spanning 18 seasons. She was named in NRL.com’s Women’s Rugby League Team of the Decade (2010s) and appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the game, cementing her standing as one of women’s rugby league’s all-time greats.

Born in Putaruru, Waikato, Hireme first represented New Zealand against the New Zealand Māori in a non-Test match in 2002. The 22-year-old scored ten tries at the following year’s World Cup, including a double in the 58-0 defeat of New Zealand Māori in the final, and was named in the Team of the Tournament.

Kiwi Ferns fixtures were scarce in the ensuing years, but the blockbusting centre was one of several players to back up for their successful World Cup title defence in 2008.

Hireme, who by now was representing Counties-Manukau, captained the Kiwi Ferns at the 2013 World Cup, where they relinquished their crown to Australia via a 22-12 loss in the final. Despite the defeat, Honey was named Player of the Tournament.

After turning out for the Kiwi Ferns at the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines, Hireme ended a three-year absence from the Test rugby league arena at that year’s World Cup. The Papakura Sisters star played four matches on the wing and was the tournament’s top try-scorer with 13 – more than double her closest rival. Hireme scored six tries in the pool-stage thrashing of the Cook Islands, a hat-trick in the semi-final defeat of England and a brilliant first-half double in the gallant loss to Australia in the final.

Hireme was snapped up by St George Illawarra for the inaugural NRLW premiership, playing all three of the Dragons’ games and averaging 129 metres. She was outstanding in New Zealand’s subsequent Test loss to Australia in Auckland, making three line-breaks and a game-high 214 metres in the 26-24 thriller as she showcased her trademark speed, power and fend.

Hireme was named 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year, following on from NZRL Women’s Player of the Year nods she received in 2007 and 2012.

Having returned to the Waikato – playing for Hamilton City Tigers and representing Wai-Coa-Bay at the NZRL National Women’s Tournament – Hireme was named Kiwi Ferns captain for the mid-2019 Test against Fetu Samoa. She scored two tries and again ran for over 200 metres in the 46-8 win.

Honey signed with the Warriors but sat out the 2019 NRLW campaign to be with her mother, Caryn, who sadly passed away on September 25. Just weeks later she returned to the field to lead the Kiwi Ferns to World Cup Nines glory; Hireme scored four tries and was named in the Team of the Tournament.

The inspirational 38-year-old was a shining light in the Kiwi Ferns’ 28-8 Test loss to the Jillaroos in Wollongong, scoring their only try of the second half and running for a team-high 127 metres.

2020 saw Honey miss out on the NRLW Warriors campaign due to injury but represent the Upper Central Stallions with pride as they took out the inaugural NZRL National Women’s Championship.

Honey was then called up for the 2020 Kiwi Ferns camp in preparation for what would be the only New Zealand International for 2020 against Fetu Samoa Invitational.

The Kiwi Ferns veteran in amongst nine debutantes showed her class, helping lead the Ferns and new aged squad to a 28-8 victory. Unbeknown to most, this was Honey’s last Test for the Kiwi Ferns as she made the difficult decision to call time on her 18-year career.

“Leaving the jersey in a better place!” says Honey.

“Deciding to retire has been a really hard decision, my heart and my mind would play footy till I’m 50, but my body tells me my time is done. I love my team, my sport and I love to compete, I have given all I can as a player and have always aimed to give nothing less than my absolute best.

“Although I may not be out on the field, making an impact, I will continue to serve the game off the field for many years to come. Every teammate, every coach, every manager, trainer, medical staff, support person, mentor, fan, friend and most of all my loving whānau, Thank you for being a part of this journey, for your guidance, support and love I am truly grateful to you all.

“Hanging up the boots with love: Hunz, Honey-Bill, Aunty, Whaea, Nan, Honey Hireme-Smiler.”

Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, says, “On behalf of everyone in our rugby league communities we would like to thank Honey for her outstanding service to the game and for all she’s achieved.

“She’s paved the way for countless women to get involved and succeed in rugby league, and she will continue to serve as an invaluable role model both on and off the field for years to come.

“We are extremely lucky to have had someone of her calibre wear the Black and White jersey for so long and we can’t thank Honey enough for her over and above dedication to the game and its communities – which I’m sure will never end.

“She absolutely will be missed, and it’s sad to see her call time on such an outstanding career but she’s an exceptional ambassador that embodies everything great about this sport, there is no doubt she has left the jersey in a better place.”

7 November 2020

Rising five-eighth Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly scored two tries and set up another on debut as the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns proved too powerful against a Fetu Samoa invitational side 28-8 at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.

In a week when the Kiwi Ferns were celebrating 25 years of rich history, an inexperienced New Zealand outfit put on a show in front of past players who proved unstoppable across two decades from 1995.

The game also marked the only international fixture scheduled on the rugby league calendar this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently appointed coach Ricky Henry turned to 11 debutants from New Zealand’s local and domestic competitions with several stars including Georgia Hale, Amber Hall and Raecene McGregor unavailable.  

Fielding just five players who played in last year’s Test match loss to the Jillaroos in October, fill-in halves Stephens-Daly and Karlee Hansen impressed to help give Henry his first victory in charge of the national team and food for thought ahead of the 2021 World Cup.

A rugby sevens convert from Bay of Plenty, Stephens-Daly’s double set up a commanding 24-4 lead midway through the second half in a scrappy performance in wet conditions.

Stephens-Daly was well supported by Hansen, opened the scoring for the Kiwi Ferns in the third minute with a crafty chip-and-chase but failed to finish the game with a knee injury in a concern for Henry.

The power of Kiwi Ferns veteran Honey Hireme-Smiler, returning from a knee injury, was on display with the star centre causing nightmares out wide next to Katelyn Vaha’akolo, who also crossed for a try in her maiden appearance.

Back-to-back penalties to Fetu Samoa, who too were made up of local New Zealand-based Samoan players due to border restrictions, enabled the visitors to get on the board through Ricshay Lemanu.

The Fetu Samoan playmaker Lemanu took her opportunity against classy defenders Hireme-Smiler and Krystal Rota to bamboozle the pair close to the line with a dummy.

Fetu Samoa centre Leianne Tufuga was next to cross for the side in a spirited finish for the visitors, who improved overall after last year’s corresponding 46-8 result.

Kiwi Ferns back-rower Crystal Tamarua, coming off a 14-day quarantine after her NRLW stint with the Warriors in Australia, crossed before the full-time siren in a well-deserved try late to seal the win.

Alicia Newton NRL

5 November 2020

Just six months ago, there was a very real prospect that no women’s rugby league would be played in New Zealand or Australia in 2020.

Since then, however, the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL National Women’s Premiership – with matches played alongside the men’s provincial fixtures for the first time – and the third NRLW Premiership have unfolded, while the season is set to conclude this Saturday with a clash between the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium.

It’s appropriate that the only major rugby league international to be played in this part of the world in a heavily disrupted, ultra-challenging year for all sports involves the New Zealand women’s team. The Kiwi Ferns are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their trailblazing tour of Australia – and a quarter century of resilience, selflessness, perseverance, pride and passion integral to elevating the women’s game to its current standing.

The New Zealand Women’s Rugby League Federation was officially registered and accepted by NZRL in February 1995. Just four months later, a 23-strong squad of pioneers – captained by Juanita Hall and coached by Janie Thompson – set off on a 21-day, seven-match tour of Australia.

“It was an absolute honour and privilege to be selected for the inaugural Kiwi Ferns alongside my peers, and to captain the team was extremely priceless,” Hall says.

“I remember clearly standing on the stage in Nelson (after the National Tournament), shocked to be selected – and I didn’t initially hear that I was captain. I think I was the last to be named.”

By the time they returned home, the New Zealand team had won all seven games and scored 204 points (including 42 tries) while conceding only 30 (including just six tries).

Four days after a hard-fought 16-6 win over a President’s XIII at North Sydney Oval in their opening assignment – fighting back from 6-2 down at halftime – New Zealand backed up for the first-ever international against Australia.

New Zealand’s line-up for that historic encounter at Lidcombe Oval was (Auckland unless otherwise stated): Tammi Wilson, Lynley Tierney, Eva Epiha, Zavana Aranga (Wellington), Debbie Syme (West Coast), Therese Mangos, Leah Witehira, Juanita Hall (c), Maria Auega (Wellington), Luisa Avaiki, Eileen Rankin, Nadene Conlon, Rachel White. Interchange: Nicole Presland, Golly Baker, Wendy Cunningham, Sharlene Hannah (West Coast).

The tourists overcame another four-point halftime deficit to carve out an 18-14 victory. Wellington hooker Maria Auega had the honour of scoring the maiden try in women’s rugby league internationals, while halfback Leah Witehira, prop Luisa Avaiki and winger Lynley Tierney dotted down in the second half to drive New Zealand to the win.

“Putting on the black-and-white jersey for the first time, and standing proud and emotional with hand over heart at our first international in Sydney, singing the national anthem, and thinking to cherish that moment in history, thanking God, my parents and family, and the pride of  representing my country – I will never will forget it,” Halls recalls of that illustrious occasion. 

Despite playing two more midweek matches – a 26-4 defeat of Sydney and a 46-0 rout of Canberra – before the second Test the following weekend, New Zealand overwhelmed Australia 14-6 in Canberra to complete a series whitewash. Wingers Tania Martin (Auckland) and Laura Waretini (Canterbury), and interchange Sara White (Auckland) were the new faces in the Test team.

The tour wrapped up with a pair of shutouts of Queensland, winning 48-0 and 36-0. Although she missed opening two games, Waretini finished as the top try-scorer on tour with nine, while Zavana Aranga led the pointscoring charts with 44 (3 tries, 16 goals).

Michelle Driscoll (Auckland), Kaylene Ihaia (Wellington) and Megan Tahapeehi (West Coast) were the tourists who did not feature in the Test matches.

The undefeated side cemented their status as fledgling women’s rugby league’s benchmark, which would go unchallenged for almost two decades.

“No one can ever take the black-and-white jersey from you, always treasured. Being the first New Zealand rugby league team to win a Test series against Australia, on Australian soil, since the 1950s is a great honour,” Hall beams.

“I would like to pay tribute and honour the wonderful late Bernie Wood, NZRL Life Member and Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his vision and passion, for making it possible for the creation of the inaugural Kiwi Ferns of 1995. One could say he is the ‘father’ of the Kiwi Ferns.”

But the tour was unmistakably challenging – for Hall personally and for the squad as a whole – for a variety of reasons.

“Being captain of a new national team and not having someone to seek advice from for help to handle all that the role entailed (was difficult). I personally sought out the great Kiwi legend Fred Ah Kuoi for his advice which was extremely helpful, invaluable and encouraging.

“The financial side of having to pay over $2000 each was extremely hard on all players, in addition to working full-time, being stay-at-home mums, and young university students.

“Additionally, the youth and vitality of our team and management, not familiar with our newly-held status as ambassadors of New Zealand women in league, and finding our feet during our tour. There was no media training or support for us on how to handle certain situations.

“Then I was injured due to a hotel mishap in the bathroom – I should have sued them! – and was unable to play our end-of-tour games in Queensland.”

Australia made its first trip across the Tasman in 1997, losing both internationals in Wellington (34-26) and Auckland (40-16). Great Britain was swept 3-0 on its three-Test tour to New Zealand in 1998. New Zealand suffered its first loss in 1999, in the second Test against Australia, but still won the series 2-1.

The Kiwi Ferns – co-captained by ’95 originals Nadene Conlon and Nicole Presland – powered to a commanding triumph in the inaugural Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2000, beating hosts Great Britain 26-4 in the Warrington-hosted final.

The Ferns defended their world champions crown in devastating style on home soil in 2003, scoring 372 points and conceding just four in six games. They overwhelmed NZ Māori 58-0 in the final. Captain Luisa Avaiki was named Player of the Tournament, while Honey Hireme – in the second season of a Kiwi Ferns tenure that now spans 19 years – scored 10 tries.

The New Zealand side had just three matches from that emphatic success until the next World Cup in 2008, but they were no less convincing in retaining the title. The Kiwi Ferns, again led by Avaiki, thrashed Australia 34-0 in the final at Suncorp Stadium. Veteran centre Trish Hina starred with two tries and three goals in the decider – almost matching her effort in the 2000 final, when she bagged two tries and two goals.

But their decade-long, 20-Test unbeaten run came to an end via an 18-16 loss to Australia in 2009. The Kiwi Ferns had just two more internationals – comfortably accounting for England 2-0 at home in 2010 – prior to the 2013 World Cup, where the Hireme-led team lost their title to the Jillaroos 22-12 in the Headingley final.

While a tough result to swallow for the traditional top dogs, it saw the Kiwi Ferns-Jillaroos rivalry step up a notch: The trans-Tasman adversaries have faced each at least once every season since until 2020. Women’s rugby league made a significant step forward in 2014 when Australia and New Zealand squared off prior to the Australia-Samoa men’s Four Nations encounter in Wollongong, the Ferns prevailing 12-8.

Of equal importance was the staging of a three-match series between the Kiwi Ferns and Jillaroos at the 2015 NRL Auckland Nines. The high-quality clashes in an abbreviated format – marked by thrilling tries and ferocious tackles that turned several Kiwi Ferns players into viral sensations – showcased women’s rugby league to a wider audience and was regarded as a highlight of the Nines weekend, as it would be again in 2016-17.

Meanwhile, a women’s fixture became part of an Anzac Test double-header bill from 2015, with international matches belatedly broadcast live on TV and receiving long overdue media coverage.

The 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup was the first to be held parallel to the men’s tournament, with the Jillaroos outlasting the Kiwi Ferns, captained by Laura Mariu, 23-16 in an epic final in Brisbane. Hireme crossed for an astounding 13 tries at the tournament.

Following the first NRLW premiership in 2018 – which featured a healthy contingent of Kiwi Ferns throughout the Warriors (coached by New Zealand great Avaiki), Broncos, Roosters and Dragons squads – the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns produced out an equally enthralling post-season contest at Mt Smart Stadium, the Australians notching three straight victories over their archrivals for the first time in a 26-24 nail-biter.

In 2019, the Kiwi Ferns recorded a 46-8 win over Fetu Samoa in Auckland and a 28-8 loss to the Jillaroos in Wollongong at Test level either side of their triumph in the inaugural World Nines tournament.

COVID-19 put paid to any hope of a New Zealand-Australia Test in 2020, but the Kiwi Ferns’ showdown with Samoa is nevertheless a fitting way to mark the team’s 25-year milestone. A host of debutants will accompany captain Krystal Rota, fellow stalwart Maitua Feterika and 39-year-old Kiwi Ferns legend Honey Hireme-Smiler.

Acknowledging the players, coaches, administrators and volunteers who ‘dug the well’ for women’s rugby league in New Zealand will undoubtedly play a key role in the Kiwi Ferns’ build-up to this week’s match. Kiwis & National Teams Manager Conlon and Head of Women’s Rugby League Avaiki continue to fly the flag for the 1995 originals on the NZRL staff, while Conlon’s exhaustive research has this week culminated in the assigning of Kiwi Ferns numbers for all 147 New Zealand women’s internationals.

“It has been good to see how far the Kiwi Ferns and women’s rugby league has come, with all the great achievements of the past, present and for future Kiwi Ferns,” foundation skipper Hall says.

“The progress and been slow and steady – compared to the Australian competitions of both local club and NRLW, we a slightly behind. The lack of teams in grassroots club level is evident.

“With the Warriors’ team entry into the NRLW competition, it has given a huge boost for women in rugby league. This has been enthralling and fabulous to watch, and for the next generation to aspire to.  

“However, kudos to NZRL for their efforts in progressing and improving New Zealand women in league.

“I have to mention also the amazing stalwarts and hardworking former Kiwi Ferns – the likes of Luisa Avaiki Nadene Conlon, Tammy Wilson, Lynley Tierney and many others – who have continued to promote, support and do a fabulous job within in their roles in NZRL.”

KIWI FERNS INTERNATIONAL RECORD – 1995-2019

OPPONENTPLAYEDWONLOST
Australia24168
Great Britain550
Cook Islands220
Tokelau110
Samoa440
England660
NZ Māori440
Pacific Islands110
Tonga110
France110
Papua New Guinea110
Canada110
TOTAL51438

Authored by Will Evans

2 November 2020

Kiwi Ferns veteran hooker Krystal Rota has been honoured with her first Test captaincy for this Saturday’s clash against Fetu Samoa Invitational.

Rota has been a focal point of the Ferns team, a mainstay at the hooker position for the better part of four years after making her debut in the 2016 Anzac test victory over the Jillaroos.

No stranger to the captaincy role, Rota has captained the Counties Manukau women’s team for three years, including over the weekend when they won their 11th straight women’s title by taking out the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership in a convincing win over the Akarana Falcons.

Rota has also captained the Maori All-Stars for two years where she scored the match-winning try in their inaugural game against the Indigenous All-Stars and was subsequently awarded the Trish Hina Medal as player of the match.

The Manurewa Marlins junior has gone on to play nine Tests for New Zealand and was a standout in the NRL World Nines campaign where the Ferns were crowned World Nines Champions after beating the Jillaroos 17-15 in the final.

Despite opting to miss out this year due to Covid-19 logistics, she is also a key member of the Warriors’ NRLW campaign where she played a vital role in their first two seasons.

Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Ricky Henry says, “Krystal has been a standout member of this team for the past four years and shows all the qualities of a great leader. She’s no stranger to the responsibility and the impact she has on those around her is evident.

“It’s one of the highest honours to captain your country and it was a pleasure to give her this opportunity.”

The Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header is taking place Saturday, November 7 at Mt Smart Stadium. Tonga women will face Niue women at 2:00 pm followed by the Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa Invitational at 4:00 pm.

Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox Sports in Australia. To purchase tickets to the Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header, please click here.

1 November 2020

Fetu Samoa Invitational coach Ross Uele has unveiled his test squad, naming a considerable number of uncapped players in his 20 strong team.

The new players to the test arena currently play at a provincial level in the NZRL competition with eight of the named squad involved in the women’s NZRL grand final over the weekend. The other six players have just completed their duties in Farah Palmer Cup in Rugby union and a few key candidates come off injuries and fully cleared to play.

We are excited at the combinations assembled for this Fetu Samoa Invitational squad of 2020,” said Uele. “It’s not an easy process especially with the disruption of the regular footy season but I’m excited about the opportunity to see these woman represent their families and heritage in a Samoan jersey.

“As always there are players who will be really disappointed at missing out, unfortunate due to Covid-19 restrictions and the international travel band. Last year many of the Fetu Samoa girls were based out of Australia and we also have woman in Samoa that could be selected for this squad too.”

“I look forward to the week in Fetu Samoa camp and participating in this Pacific Clash with all the other nations involved, says Uele.”

20 women Fetu Samoa Invitational squad: Masuisui Pauaraisa, Aieshaleigh Smalley, Nina Foaese, Ricshay Lemanu, Vaanessa Molia-Fraser, Cassie Siataga, Onjeurlina Leiataua, Rowena Koonwaiyou Meleisea, Ruth Vae, Lani Latoa-Williams, Shannon Laamauga Leota, Summer Kapsin, Clementine Varea, Leianne Tufuga, Jhana Magele, Pauline Hunt, Makayla Eli, Mela Maxine-Vili, Glory Aiono, Keilamarita Pouri-Lane.

1 November 2020

Newly appointed Head Coach Ricky Henry has named 11 debutantes for the much-anticipated International against Fetu Samoa Invitational on Saturday, November 7 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland (4:00 pm kick-off local time).

The Kiwi Ferns squad is fresh with budding talent from the inaugural Sky Sport Women’s Premiership and NZRL Women’s Championship as well as seasoned Kiwi Ferns and returnees from the NRLW Warriors campaign.

Standouts from the National Women’s Championship who have earned their debuts include Upper Central Stallion’s Autumn Stephens and Mya Terehia Hill-Moana.

Stephens was crowned MVP of the National Women’s Championship and Mya Terehia Hill-Moana earned herself MVP of the Women’s Championship final where the Stallions came away with a 12-10 win over the Auckland Vulcans. Auckland Vulcan’s Lavinia Tauhalaliku and Shannon Muru have also earned their debut spots after impressive seasons.

Out of the Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, champion Counties Manukau powerhouses Kere Matua and Christyl Stowers both earn their debuts as well as MVP of the Premiership Harata Butler and MVP of the grand final Kararaina Wira-Kohu. Akarana front three of the 11 Kiwi Fern debutantes in Karli Hansen, Katelyn Vaha’akolo and Sharliz White.

Seasoned Kiwi Fern names return to the squad including star Counties’ fullback Amber Kani, Captain Krystal Rota and unstoppable forward Maitua Feterika who all impressed for the Stingrays throughout the Premiership competition.

Resilient Kiwi Ferns’ winger Julianna Newman returns post knee surgery, impressing in Akarana colours and Kiwi Fern veteran, Honey Hireme-Smiler is back after missing out on the NRWL Warriors campaign due to injury. Crystal Tamarua and Kanyon Paul also join the 19-women squad fresh from the Warriors’ NRLW campaign.

“I want to congratulate those selected for our up and coming International against Samoa,” says Head Coach Ricky Henry.

“It’s a proud moment to wear the Black and White jersey, especially for those making their debut in front of family and friends. I have been encouraged by the performances in the Sky Sport Premiership, National Championship, and NRLW competition.

“There is an exciting mix of fresh talent and experienced leadership in this squad and it was no easy feat narrowing the wider squad to 19. The women’s game is strong and there is depth across the park – all positive signs as we build towards the 2021 World Cup.”

The Kiwi Ferns last faced Fetū Samoa in June 2019 where they came away with a convincing 34 -14 victory.

The Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header is taking place Saturday, November 7 at Mt Smart Stadium. Tonga women will face Niue women at 2:00 pm followed by the Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa Invitational at 4:00 pm.

Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport 4 and Fox Sports in Australia.

To purchase tickets to the Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header, please click here.

New Zealand Rugby League wishes to congratulate the following players:

PLAYER NAMECOMPETITIONTEAM
Amber KaniPremiershipCounties
Autumn Stephens *ChampionshipUpper Central
Charlotte ScanlanPremiershipAkarana
Christyl Stowers *PremiershipCounties
Crystal TamaruaNRLWWarriors
Harata Butler *PremiershipCounties
Honey Hireme-SmilerChampionshipUpper Central
Juliana NewmanPremiershipAkarana
Kanyon PaulNRLWWarriors
Kararaina Wira-Kohu *PremiershipCounties
Karli Hansen *PremiershipAkarana
Kere Matua *PremiershipCounties
Katelyn Vaha’akolo *PremiershipAkarana
Krystal RotaPremiershipCounties
Lavinia Tauhalaliku *ChampionshipAuckland Vulcans
Maitua FeterikaPremiershipCounties
Mya Terehia Hill-Moana*ChampionshipUpper Central
Shannon Muru *ChampionshipAuckland Vulcans
Sharliz White *PremiershipAkarana

(Alphabetical order by first name)

*Debutante

29 October 2020

Trish Hina arguably one of New Zealand’s greatest sportswoman, will run out for the Upper Central Stallions this Saturday in the NZRL National Women’s Championship final after a ten-year hiatus from rugby league.

Ex Kiwi Fern captain, Hina has impressively represented her country in four sports: league, union, touch and softball.

Hina’s journey with rugby league began in 1993 when New Zealand Rugby League established competitions for women where Hina would play club rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday.

She was selected for the first Kiwi Ferns side that toured Australia but didn’t attend because of softball commitments. However, the stand-off soon established herself as the best women’s league player in the world.

Hina was a member of the Te Ahora club side in Wellington that won 11 consecutive Wellington titles. In 1999 she captained Wellington to the National title, historically an event dominated by Auckland.

In 2000 Hina was named MVP at the first women’s rugby league World Cup and in 2000 Hina was named New Zealand Rugby League Player of the year.

The second World Cup was staged in Auckland in 2003 and was a much larger event to which the Kiwi Ferns beat the New Zealand Maori 58-0, illustrating the strength of the women’s game in New Zealand.

In 2008 the Kiwi Ferns defended their World title again and Hina was named MVP of the World Cup for a second time. In the final, New Zealand thrashed Australia, 34-0 and Hina played arguably her greatest game, scoring two tries and kicking three conversions.

In 2009 the Kiwi Fern trailblazer moved from Wellington to Auckland in an attempt to achieve the one goal that had eluded her – to make the New Zealand women’s rugby union team, the Black Ferns, and that she did.

Within a year, Hina cracked a side that had only lost three games in twenty years. However, she then struck adversity:

“In 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Disease, which prevented me from playing High-Performance Sport, so I moved from Auckland to Gisborne to focus on my health and wellbeing. It was basically the same disease that Jonah Lomu had, but in a more mild form,” said Hina.

Her last game of league was for the Kiwi Ferns against England at Trusts Stadium in 2010.

Hina will return to the same stadium, exactly ten years from when she last said goodbye, but this time as an Upper Central Stallion in the NZRL National Women’s Championship final this Saturday.

“10 years later I’m feeling fitter then I have ever been,” says Hina.

“I have my 20month old son SEKANI-HEIZ who inspires me every day to enjoy the things I love to do.

“Emotions were very high leading up to the tournament; I was nervous, excited, unsure if my body would cope with the contact, once I got on the field my natural footy instinct kicked in and I started having some fun. I still have a long way to get to the standard I want to be at; it is going to be a lot of hard training during summer break this year.

“Playing with the Stallion team has also helped with my transition back to league, the culture within the team and the support from the management and the Upper Central Rugby League staff have been amazing, it feels like being a part of a high-performance team again.”

2020 marks the inaugural NZRL Women’s Championship and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, stand-alone women’s competitions that have been a long time coming but showcase the growth and strength the women’s game in New Zealand possesses.

“Finally women are getting the recognition they deserve,” says Hina.

“I’m loving the pathways and opportunities women have in league nowadays, the standard of league has really improved, girls are quick, fit and strong and that’s a result of the work, money and time going into this space.”

The Upper Central Stallions are taking on the Auckland Vulcans at 10:30 am on Saturday 31st October at Trusts Stadium, Auckland. Thanks to Radio Tainui the game will be livestreamed on New Zealand Rugby League’s Facebook page.

27 October 2020

Warriors NRLW captain Georgia Hale and Knights NRL star Connor Watson have been awarded Veronica White and Ken Stephen medals for their community work.

The pair were honoured in a ceremony at ANZ Stadium before the Telstra Premiership grand final on Sunday.

Hale, in addition to being a wonderful role model and trailblazer on the field, is constantly helping others with genuine passion via her role as the Warriors’ community coordinator.

The lock was also nominated for last year’s Veronica White Medal.

The 25-year-old, who was named the 2020 Young New Zealander of the Year, has made a difference on countless school visits.

Hale has been devoted to assisting rural communities, children, the intellectually disabled and a variety of charities.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the club’s outreach programs, but Hale continued to assist through Zoom calls as well as her own food-bank collections and wellbeing sessions with friends and family.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Georgia. She brings enormous credit on herself in the most selfless manner,” Warriors CEO Cameron George said when Hale was named Young New Zealander of the Year.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo paid tribute to Watson and Hale and said both were exceptional ambassadors for rugby league.

“It is so fitting for us to showcase these two exceptional people on our biggest day of the year,” Mr Abdo said.

“So many of our players undertake a significant amount of work off the field – much of it done very quietly – tonight was our chance to acknowledge that work. Rugby League brings communities together and Connor and Georgia have led the way in 2020.”

The Ken Stephen Medal is brought to you by My Property Consultants while the Veronica White Medal is supported by Apprenticeship Careers Australia. Both medals are part of the Kayo NRL Community Awards 2020.

23 October 2020

New Zealand Rugby League wishes to congratulate those selected for the Kiwi Ferns wider squad ahead of their Test against Fetū Samoa Invitational on Saturday November 7th at 4pm.

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Kiwi Ferns, the Clash of the Pacific Women’s Double Header is the ONLY New Zealand International Rugby League Test for 2020.

Tonga will face Niue women at 2pm and the World Nines Champion Kiwi Ferns will take on Pacific rivals Fetū Samoa Invitational at 4pm.

The Kiwi Ferns last faced Fetū Samoa in June 2019 where they came away with a convincing 34 -14 victory. The Ferns will be looking to assert further dominance heading towards the 2021 World Cup while the fiery Fetū Samoa will be hungry for redemption.

The wider squad includes returning NRLW Warriors players Crystal Tamarua, Madison Bartlett, Hilda Peters and Kanyon Paul, seasoned Kiwi Fern veterans Honey Hireme-Smiler and Krystal Rota as well some fresh development prospects as a result of the inaugural Sky Sport NZRL Women’s Premiership.

The squad will be narrowed to 19 following the Sky Sport NZRL Women’s Premiership final between the Akarana Falcons and Counties Manukau Stingrays at 2:05pm on October 31st at Trusts Stadium.

Congratulations to the following:

PLAYER NAMETEAM
Aieshaleigh SmalleyCounties Manukau
Amber KaniCounties Manukau
Annessa BiddleCounties Manukau
Apii NichollsAkarana
Autumn StephensUpper Central
Charlette ButlerCounties Manukau
Charlotte ScanlanAkarana
Christyl StowersCounties Manukau
Corrineke WindleMid Central
Crystal TamaruaWarriors
Hilda PetersWarriors
Honey Hireme-SmilerUpper Central
Jonsal TautariCounties Manukau
Juliana NewmanAkarana
Kanyon PaulWarriors
Kararaina Wira-KohuCounties Manukau
Karli HansenAkarana
Katelyn Vaha’akoloAkarana
Krystal RotaCounties Manukau
Lavinia TauhalalikuAuckland Vulcans
Madison BartlettWarriors
Maitua FeterikaCounties Manukau
Mya Terehia Hill-moanaUpper Central
Rawinia EverittNorthern Swords
Roelien Du PlessisUpper Central
Shannon MuruAuckland Vulcans
Sharliz WhiteAkarana
Tawny BurgessWellington

September 16, 2020

International rugby league is returning to New Zealand soil as the World Nines Champion Kiwi Ferns are set to take on Pacific rivals Fetū Samoa at 4pm on Saturday 7 November at Mt Smart Stadium.

A packed afternoon of women’s rugby league action celebrates the Kiwi Ferns’ 25th Anniversary year. Tonga will take on Niue at 2pm followed by the much anticipated Kiwi Ferns v Fetū Samoa Test in what will be the only New Zealand international Test match for 2020.

The Kiwi Ferns last faced Fetū Samoa in June 2019 where they came away with a convincing 34 -14 victory. The Ferns will be looking to assert further dominance heading towards the 2021 World Cup while the firey Fetū Samoa will be hungry for redemption.

NZRL CEO, Greg Peters says; “It is really exciting to see this Test come to light despite the COVID-19 setbacks throughout the year.

“What better way to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Kiwi Ferns than with a stand-alone women’s Test and an afternoon packed of women’s rugby league action. It reflects the exponential growth our female game has experienced, which is only continuing to grow.

“To have the only New Zealand international Test match for the year on home soil is great for the game and also our communities who have missed their fix of live rugby league action in 2020.”

The Ferns will take the field under the helm of new coach Ricky Henry who was recently announced as the Kiwi Ferns Head Coach through until the 2021 World Cup.

Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport with a 4pm kick-off.

NZRL will release further information re ticket on sale dates and prices in due course.

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have today revealed the much-anticipated fixture schedule for what promises to be the biggest and best World Cup in the history of the sport, as the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams all compete at the same time in a major sporting first.

New Zealand’s men’s and women’s side will be competing in RLWC2021.

The full fixture list for New Zealand is as follows:

  • New Zealand vs Lebanon (men’s) – Halliwell Jones, Warrington (Sunday 24th October) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs Jamaica (men’s) – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds (Saturday 30th October) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs Ireland (men’s) – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds (Friday 5th November) – 19.30pm
  • New Zealand vs France (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Wednesday 10th November) – 17.00pm
  • New Zealand vs Cook Islands (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Sunday 14th November) – 17.00pm
  • Australia vs New Zealand (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium, York (Thursday 18th November) – 19.30pm

In June, it was revealed that New Zealand’s men’s and women’s sides will be using York as their team training base.

Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for millions of fans around the world as we reveal the full fixture schedule.

“The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and global fans can now look forward to being part of this unique sporting event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify.

“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments.

“We can’t wait to welcome all our competing nations and their fans to England next autumn for the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.”

With 61 fixtures over a six-week period the tournament will showcase a festival of world class sporting action. The dates, venues and kick-off times for each of the three tournaments is now confirmed and available to view below and at www.RLWC2021.com

Please visit www.RLWC2021.com for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.

NRL.com has compiled a women’s Team of the Decade after input from key figures in the game including the likes of current Jillaroos coach Brad Donald, Channel Nine commentator Jo Barrett and Ladies Who League’s Mary Konstantopoulos.

Australia will meet Fiji, Italy and Scotland in Group B, while New Zealand were drawn against Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon in Group C and Tonga play Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D.

In the women’s tournament, New Zealand were drawn in the same pool as Australia in a massive boost for the likes of England and PNG.

However, most interest in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace centred on which team Prince Harry picked as England’s opponents in the opening match on October 23, 2021. The match will be played at St James’ Park in Newcastle.

Tournament organisers couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome as Samoa have the potential to be a massive drawcard if Williams chooses to play for them.

 

 

World Cup pools

Men’s Group A – England, France, Greece, Samoa

The host nation narrowly lost the 2017 final 6-0 to Australia and would be expected to top their pool but Great Britain’s disastrous Southern Hemisphere tour at the end of last season and the retirement of Sam Burgess have raised concerns.

Samoa are the obvious threat but their only win since 2016 was a 24-6 defeat of PNG in last year’s Pacific Test.

Men’s Group B – Australia, Fiji, Italy, Scotland

It would take a stunning upset for the Kangaroos to fail to top their pool but Tonga showed what is possible by beating Australia last November in Auckland and Fiji aren’t too far behind.

The Bati have qualified for the semi-finals of the last three World Cups and will be battle-hardened by Tests against New Zealand and Tonga this year.

Scotland drew with New Zealand in 2016 and Samoa at the 2017 World Cup but its hard to see them or Italy making it out of their pool.

Men’s Group C – New Zealand, Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon

This is probably the most wide-open pool, with the exception of the current No.1 ranked Kiwis.

Jamaica qualified for their first World Cup by beating the USA more than a year ago, while Lebanon are likely to field a young team after the retirements of Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah from the team that made the quarter-finals in 2017.

Ireland were unlucky not to have advanced to the 2017 quarter-finals in place of Samoa and would have under the format for the 2021 tournament.

However, the results in Group C are likely to come down to which of Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon has the best heritage players to help claim second spot.

Men’s Group D – Tonga, PNG, Wales, Cook Islands

After beating Great Britain and Australia at the end of last season, as well as New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup, Tonga are aiming to win the 2021 tournament and few doubt they are capable.

Besides Tonga, Group D is also wide open as PNG beat Great Britain at the end of last season and Cook Islands have the potential to field a strong line-up if all of their heritage players make themselves available.

Wales have been disappointing in recent seasons but the tournament being in the UK will be of benefit to the Dragons.

Women’s Group A – England, Brazil, Canada, PNG

The Orchids, Ravens and Brasileiras would have been doing handstands after being drawn in Group A with England.

Brazil will meet the host nation in the opening game of the women’s World Cup at Emerald Headingley Stadium on November 9, 2021.

Women’s Group B – Australia, Cook Islands, France, New Zealand

Most interest in the women’s draw was always going to revolve around which side of the draw the Kiwi Ferns were in and France and the Cook Islands now face a tough World Cup campaign.

The Jillaroos are the defending World Cup champions and also won the 2013 final but New Zealand had won every tournament before that.

Wheelchair Group B – France, Wales, Scotland, USA

Defending World Cup winners France will meet Wales, Scotland and USA in pool B.

The 2021 World Cup is the first in which the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments have been staged concurrently, with all three finals to be played on the same weekend.

 

Brad Walter – NRL

Sharp-eyed fans may have noticed the Sky Sport logo on the back of the Kiwi Ferns Nines jersey – well, a sponsorship and support partnership is now official between Sky Sport and New Zealand Rugby League; with a specific focus on the Kiwi Ferns, New Zealand’s national women’s Rugby League team.  But the agreement goes much further with a raft of support designed to grow the game and its appeal to women and girls throughout the country.

“At the risk of repeating myself, our support for the Kiwi Ferns and women’s rugby league, is yet another example of how we’re going all out to grow and promote every aspect of women in sport in New Zealand from production and promotion through to playing and performing,” says Martin Stewart, CEO Sky.

“Women’s sport is fast gaining ground – it’s exciting, inspirational and the more we showcase how women and girls are achieving success, the more positive messages we can send about the benefits of being involved in sport.”

The agreement between Sky Sport and NZRL runs through until September 2023.  The Kiwi Ferns will wear the Sky Sport logo on their jerseys and other kit whenever they represent New Zealand with all games being broadcast on Sky Sports and available through Sky Go and other Sky platforms.

Greg Peters, CEO NZRL says, “We are experiencing an explosion in the women’s game, and this high-profile partnership shines a brighter spotlight on this across all levels of the code.

“Sky’s support will provide more international playing opportunities for the Ferns as we look to carry on the momentum from this year’s outstanding World Nines win. Test football aside, Sky has come on board as an official naming rights sponsor for our new National Women’s Rugby League Competition and is also supporting our NZRL Roadshows we plan on implementing across the country next year designed to connect with and grow our younger playing generation.

“We are very much committed to growing the female game at all levels and we are extremely grateful that Sky Sport not only shares this vision but is willing to support us in such a large capacity.

Collectively, we are excited about what we can achieve and what momentum we will be able to create in the space as we work towards the 2021 World Cup.”

Kiwi Ferns Captain, Honey Hireme-Smiler, says,  “We play because we love our country and we love rugby league and every girl who puts on that Black and White jersey is determined to represent New Zealand to the best of their ability. What’s awesome about this is that a partner like Sky Sport gives us more opportunity to showcase that commitment and at the same hopefully inspire the next generation of Kiwi Ferns coming through.

With this kind of support from grassroots through to the highest level of the game, Sky Sport is nailing its colours to the goalpost, says Stewart.

“We’ll grow our customer base by giving them access to the widest possible spectrum of sport.  But it means more than simply whipping out a ‘chequebook’ and buying rights.  We’re investing in sport itself, we’re investing in growing the game and we’re not leaving anyone behind.”

Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL and Kiwi Ferns assistant coach Luisa Avaiki has had double success at The Trusts Sports Waitakere Excellence Awards.

 

Kiwi Ferns assistant coach Luisa Avaiki has had double success at The Trusts Sports Waitakere Excellence Awards.The…

Posted by Kiwi Ferns on Tuesday, 12 November 2019

 

The former Kiwi Ferns captain and long-time international collected the Douglas Charitable Trust Coach of the Year award and was also named the winner of the major award of the year The Trusts Supreme Award.

Avaiki again guided the Warriors in the second NRL women’s premiership. The club opened with a win over the Sydney Roosters, lost to the St George Illawarra Dragons and then stunned the Brisbane Broncos by handing them their only defeat in the competition’s first two seasons.

During the year, Avaiki was also Kiwi Ferns assistant coach when they beat Fetu Samoa 46-8 in June and again for their end-of-season campaign when they upset the Jillaroos to win the inaugural World Cup 9s title.

 

Warriors.Kiwi

Ali Brigginshaw helped guide the Australian Jillaroos to a 28-8 victory over the Kiwi Ferns at WIN Stadium.

The Kiwi Ferns had all the running early but couldn’t convert territory into points with a try-saver from Tiana Penitani highlighting the Jillaroos’ defensive attitude in the opening stages.

A treble of penalties relieved pressure for the Australians and it didn’t take long for Brigginshaw to strike with a weaving run before finding Tallisha Harden in support.

The Jillaroos went over for their second within minutes with Brigginshaw regathering her own short kick – New Zealand fullback Apii Nicholls conceding a penalty try in the process for reach out with her leg.

Australia’s momentum continued with a slice of luck from the scrum base with debutante Kirra Dibb placing a 40-metre kick down-field which landed perfectly in the hands of Sergis to score under the posts.

An error from the Jillaroos at the kick restart opened the door for the Kiwi Ferns to get on the board midway through the first half with Maitua Feterika continuing where she left off from the NRLW to steamroll her way over from close range.

A penalty goal to the Jillaroos on the stroke of half-time enabled the home side to take a 18-4 lead into the break.

Honey Hireme’s battle with Sergis was one-way in the opening half but the Kiwi Ferns veteran returned serve three minutes after the interval to finish off a sharp backline movement.

New Zealand were denied another try-scoring chance when Hannah Southwell pulled off a miraculous saver on Raecene McGregor close to the line.

Local girl Keeley Davis went close for the Jillaroos at the other end of the field but was ruled held up as the scoreline remained a 10-point difference for most of the second half.

The Kiwi Ferns lost Nita Maynard to a head knock and the Jillaroos had woes of their own when Penitani spilt a ball with the line wide open with 16 minutes remaining.

Australia wrapped up the result through another local, Shellharbour’s Shakiah Tungai, who converted her own long-range special near full-time in front of a strong crowd of 8184.

Head Coach Justin Morgan has named two debutantes for the much-anticipated Test match against the Jillaroos at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 (5.40pm kick-off local time; 7.40pm NZT).

Prop Billie-Jean Ale and Centre Jules Newman will both play their first Test match for New Zealand after standout seasons at the Warriors this year.

Ale has been in the game for 19 years, representing Mt Albert in the Auckland Premiership, Akarana at a provincial level, as well as the Warriors in the inaugural NRLW Premiership.

She was first named in the Kiwi Ferns’ wider squad for the 2008 World Cup but never took the field. In the meantime, she represented Fetu Samoa in 2011 and again in this year’s one-off Test against the Kiwi Ferns in June. Eleven years later, she will finally run out in the Black and White.

Newman was named in the Ferns’ wider test squad earlier in the year and impressed at the World Nines scoring a crucial try in the 17-15 victory over the Jillaroos.

After a standout introductory year to rugby league she will play her first test match for the Kiwi Ferns tomorrow.

Also running on in the centres will be the much-decorated Kiwi Ferns Captain, Honey Hireme-Smiler, who first donned the Kiwi Ferns jersey 17 years ago.

2019 World Nines Women’s player of the tournament, Raecene McGregor will run out in the halves alongside Warriors playmaker Charntay Poko.

Sydney Roosters’ winger Kiana Takairangi, who scored a double on debut for the Ferns in June, will look to carry on her impressive form alongside Sydney teammate and experienced hooker Nita Maynard.

Warriors speedster Atawhai Tupaea makes her return to the Black and White, as well as St George Illawarra Dragons second-rower, Maitua Feterika.

“This is what we have been building towards and I know the girls can’t wait to get out there,” says Morgan.

“The Nines was a good confidence boost but we know what lies ahead. The Jillaroos are a top-quality side and they will bring their best game, but we have the team to rise to the challenge. We are lucky to have a couple of returning faces, determined debutantes and players with years of test match experience. All in all this team is full of passion and pride for their country so I have no doubt this will shape up to be a great test match.”

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWI FERNS | AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND TEST

 

1        Apii NICHOLLS (Warriors)

2        Kiana TAKAIRANGI (Roosters)

3        Honey HIREME-SMILER (C) (Warriors)

4        Jules NEWMAN (Warriors)

5        Atawhai TUPAEA (Warriors)

6        Charntay POKO (Warriors)

7        Raecene McGREGOR (Broncos)

8        Annetta-Claudia NUUAUSALA (Warriors)

9        Krystal ROTA (Warriors)

10       Amber HALL (Broncos)

11       Onjeurlina LEIATAUA (Warriors)

12       Crystal TAMARUA (Warriors)

13       Georgia HALE (Warriors)

14       Nita MAYNARD (Roosters)

15       Teuila FOTU-MOALA (Dragons)

16       Billy-Jean ALE (Warriors)

17       Maitua FETERIKA (Dragons)

18       Madison BARTLETT (Warriors)

19       Kanyon PAUL (Warriors)

20      Aieshaleigh SMALLEY (Warriors)

The Kiwi Ferns are the inaugural women’s World Cup 9s champions following an incredible 17-15 victory over Australia.

The Ferns went into the match the underdogs after the Jillaroos handed it to them the night before, however, after a dominant win over England, the Ferns were no short of confidence and ready for redemption.

Jillaroos flyer Tiana Penitani opened the scoring with her fifth try of the tournament but the Ferns bettered that as player of the tournament Raecene McGregor brilliantly stepped through to score in the bonus zone.

Australia fought back to take an 8-7 advantage into half-time after their co-captains combined, Ali Brigginshaw popping a smart offload for Kezie Apps to power over.

The Kiwi Ferns scored first after the break via speedster Jules Newman before Corban McGregor gave the advantage back to the Jillaroos again with a bonus-zone try.

But a dummy-half barge-over from stand out Nita Maynard gave the Kiwi Ferns what turned out to be a winning lead, with goal-kicking proving the difference.

The Kiwi Ferns take out the World 9’s Title and will look to go back to back at the Trans-Tasman double header next Friday.

Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has named a vastly-experienced side ahead of the much-anticipated Test match against the Jillaroos at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 (5.40pm kick-off local time; 7.40pm NZT).

The side includes Broncos NRLW grand final playmakers Lavinia Gould and Raecene McGregor, both named in New Zealand’s World Cup Nines squad yesterday.

They both scored in the Broncos’ impressive 30-6 win over St George Illawarra and are now joined by teammate and powerhouse prop Amber-Paris Hall in the Test squad.

The Warriors, the only team to beat the double premiership-winning Broncos, supply 13 of the 19 Ferns players, including Warriors captain Georgia Hale, star fullback and 2017 Kiwi Ferns player of the year Apii Nicholls, veteran hooker Krystal Rota and experienced front rowers Annetta Nuuausala and Aieshaleigh Smalley.

Warriors winger Madison Bartlett and halfback and NRLW Dally M finalist Charntay Poko, made their Kiwi Ferns debuts in the 46-8 victory over Fetu Samoa in June.

The selection also features much-decorated Warriors recruit, Honey Hireme-Smiler, who first donned the Kiwi Ferns jersey 17 years ago. She missed the NRLW season on compassionate grounds to support her seriously ill mother Caryn who sadly passed away on September 25.

Warriors centre Jules Newman was also named in the Ferns’ wider squad against Fetu Samoa and will be looking to earn a starting spot against the Jillaroos.

Sydney Roosters’ winger Kiana Takairangi, who scored a double on debut for the Ferns against the Samoans, will look to carry on her impressive form alongside Sydney teammate and experienced hooker Nita Maynard.

Winger/centre Atawhai Tupaea makes her return to the black and white while prop Billy-Jean Ale comes into the side after playing for Fetu Samoa in June.

“We are really lucky to have a team of this calibre,” says Morgan.

“There is a real valuable mix of experienced leaders and young talent in the squad, all of them eager to take the field and do their country proud.

“The last time we faced the Jillaroos it was a hard-fought battle until the end and that narrow loss stills hurt so I know the girls will be ready to come out firing and put that behind us. These players have been in impressive form throughout the NRLW competition, so I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”

 

Click HERE for tickets to Australia v New Zealand Double Header in Wollongong,

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWI FERNS | AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND TEST

 

Player Club Tests for NZ
BILLY-JEAN ALE Warriors
MADISON BARTLETT Warriors 1
TEUILA FOTU-MOALA Dragons 13
GEORGIA HALE Warriors 7
LAVINIA GOULD Warriors 1
AMBER-PARIS HALL Broncos 4
HONEY HIREME-SMILER Warriors 29
ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA Warriors 1
NITA MAYNARD Roosters 5
RAECENE MCGREGOR Broncos 3
JULES NEWMAN Warriors 0
APII NICHOLLS Warriors 5
ANNETTA NUUAUSALA Warriors 4
CHARNTAY POKO Warriors 1
KRYSTAL ROTA Warriors 9
AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY Warriors 3
KIANA TAKAIRANGI Roosters 1
CRYSTAL TAMARUA Warriors 2
ATAWHAI TUPAEA Warriors 5

Head coach Justin Morgan has named an experienced Kiwi Ferns squad not short on strike power to take the field at the inaugural World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on October 18 and 19.

Brisbane playmakers Lavinia Gould and Raecene McGregor back up from the Broncos’ impressive NRLW grand final win over St George Illawarra on Sunday when they both scored in the dominant 30-6 victory.

The selection also features the much-decorated Honey Hireme. She missed the NRLW season on compassionate grounds to support her seriously ill mother Caryn who passed away on September 25.

Of the 16 players selected, 13 were in the squad involved in the 46-8 one-off Test win over Fetu Samoa at Mount Smart Stadium in June.

The Warriors, the only team to beat the double premiership-winning Broncos, supply 11 players.

New Zealand is one of four women’s teams playing for the World Cup title alongside Trans-Tasman rivals Australia, England and Papua New Guinea.

“This is going to be a tough competition against top tier international rivals, and our goal is to lift that world title at the end of the day,” said Morgan.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what these guys bring to the table especially following on from the NRLW competition where a lot of these players were in impressive form. This is a new tournament and with that brings a new level of play. It’s going to be exciting.”

The Kiwi Ferns World Cup Nines squad assembles in Sydney next Tuesday.

Following the Nines, the Ferns switch mode to Test football with their clash against the Jillaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25.

 

Click HERE for tickets to the World Cup Nines.

Click HERE for tickets to Australia v New Zealand Double Header in Wollongong,

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWI FERNS | WORLD CUP NINES

MADISON BARTLETT (Warriors)

TEUILA FOTU-MOALA (Dragons)

GEORGIA HALE (Warriors)

LAVINIA GOULD (Broncos)

HONEY HIREME (Warriors)

ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA (Warriors)

NITA MAYNARD (Roosters)

RAECENE McGREGOR (Broncos)

JULES NEWMAN (Warriors)

APII NICHOLLS (Warriors)

CHARNTAY POKO (Warriors)

KRYSTAL ROTA (Warriors)

AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY (Warriors)

KIANA TAKAIRANGI (Roosters)

CRYSTAL TAMARUA (Warriors)

ATAWHAI TUPAEA (Warriors)

Tickets are on sale at 12pm today for the Australia vs New Zealand Double-Header Test matches set to take place on October 25th at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

 

Thousands of rugby league fans are expected to join the strong local support for the only Test Matches scheduled on Australian soil in 2019.

 

“The Australia-New Zealand rivalry is a special one and it will be the only occasion this year fans can witness both the male and female teams competing in official Test Matches,” NRL Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Abdo said.

 

“It is the best players in both the NRL and NRLW competing for the unofficial title of the world’s best.

 

“We hosted a great crowd for the last international played in Wollongong in 2014, and we are excited to be returning to this important rugby league region again this year.”

 

It will be the first time the Australian Kangaroos have faced the New Zealand Kiwis at WIN Stadium, with the women’s sides having clashed at the venue back in 2014.

 

New Zealand Rugby League Chief Executive Officer Greg Peters said: “Trans Tasman rivalry showcases everything that is great about our game.  To be able to see four of the World’s top Rugby League teams with points to prove in action on one day will make for a not to be missed fan experience. The Men’s match will also form part of the inaugural Oceania Cup and may well decide the winner of that trophy.”

 

The Harvey Norman Jillaroos held on for a nail-biting win over the Kiwi Ferns at Mt Smart on October 13 last year, while the Australian Kangaroos will be looking to avenge their 26-24 loss against the New Zealand Kiwis from the same day.

 

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and nrl.com/tickets. Event-goers can also catch free train and shuttle services to and from WIN Stadium using just their event ticket, making public transport an attractive travel option for the event.

 

The Australia v New Zealand Double Header is supported by the New South Wales Government via Destination New South Wales.

 

The women’s and men’s matches will be broadcast live nationally across the Nine Network, Fox Sports and NRL Live Pass, and well as Sky NZ in New Zealand.

New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce that Luisa Avaiki, former Kiwi Ferns World Cup-winning Captain, current Kiwi Ferns Assistant Coach, NZ Order of Merit recipient and current Head Coach of the WNRL Warriors team, has been granted a Prime Minister’s Scholarship enabling her to take on the role of Head of Women’s Rugby League.

Avaiki has been involved in rugby league for more than three decades dating back to her Kiwi Ferns debut in 1995. Sporting the Black and White jersey, she’s lifted the Women’s Rugby League World Cup three times (2000, 2003, 2008), two of them as captain. This year, she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2019 New Years Honours for her ongoing services to rugby league and the women’s game.

Luisa has held development and welfare roles at both the Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Rugby League, just recently as the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Manager.

Her new role as Head of Women’s Rugby League will see her develop and drive the women’s rugby league strategy throughout New Zealand. Luisa will work closely with NZRL zones and districts, further strengthening the female game at a community level right the way through to the elite pathways, at the same time, still continuing as the Kiwi Ferns Assistant Coach and Warriors NRLW Head Coach.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to contribute further to the women’s game and it highlights NZRL’s dedication to seeing our female game thrive at all levels,” Avaiki said.

“It’s exciting to see the women’s game experience significant growth I’m really looking forward to what we’ll be able to achieve for all girls across the country involved in rugby league.”

CEO of NZRL, Greg Peters, said: “Luisa has already contributed so much to rugby league, she’s an inspiration to many of the women who play our game and she has an undeniable passion for what she does; therefore we couldn’t think of a better person to take on this new role. We’re extremely lucky to have someone of her calibre on board, especially during a time of such important growth.”

 

The NRL has confirmed the three pools which will make up the inaugural Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, to be held at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta on October 18-19.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said today the format of the pools would ensure key rivals face each other in the fast-paced, action-packed short form of Rugby League.

During the official launch of the tournament today in Parramatta, it was revealed that:

  • Group A would include Australia, New Zealand, PNG and USA
  • Group B would include England, France, Lebanon and Wales
  • Group C would include Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Cook Islands

Mr Greenberg said the two highest-placed teams from Group A would progress to the Semi Finals, alongside the winners of Groups B and C.

The two highest-placed teams from the Women’s pool, which features Australia, New Zealand, England and PNG, will feature in the women’s final.

The Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019 was formally launched today in Parramatta featuring Damien Cook (Kangaroos), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (Kiwis), James Segeyaro (PNG), Maika Sivo (Fiji), Michael Jennings (Tonga), Anthony Milford (Samoa), Alex Glenn (Cook Islands), as well as Isabelle Kelly (Jillaroos) and Raecene McGregor (Kiwi Ferns).

Mr Greenberg said the pools were chosen to ensure exciting match-ups between traditional rivals.

He added all teams would play one match on Friday and a minimum of two matches on Saturday.

“The World Cup 9s will feature the most exciting players to watch in the game, representing their nations and their cultures,” Mr Greenberg said.

“It will be a festival of Rugby League and the fast-paced, frenetic nature of Nines will be fantastic to watch.

“This is Rugby League rebooted – a unique and exciting way to showcase our wonderful athletes.”

Mr Greenberg also detailed some of the key rules which will be in place during the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s:

 

  • A Bonus Zone, giving teams the chance for a five-point try, will be included
  • A 20-40 rule, in addition to the 40-20
  • A 25-second shot clock on drop-kicked conversions
  • Golden Try in the event of a match drawn after regulation time

NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, said: “It’s an exciting time for our international game, we’re looking forward to watching both our Ferns and Kiwis take the field in what will be an entertaining weekend of fast-paced rugby league action.”

Two-day passes for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s will go on sale for the General Public on Wednesday (July 24).

Single-day passes will be available to purchase for the General Public from August 7.

Tickets will be available via nrl.com/tickets.

The 12 teams in the men’s competition and four teams in the women’s tournament will compete across 28 matches and 12 hours of action. Every men’s and women’s match will be broadcast live across the two days of competition.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) has today revealed the confirmed nations who will participate in the women’s tournament in 2021.

The announcements were made across the tournament’s official social media channels, we saw each of the eight individual nations revealed with a unique video showcasing what each nation will bring to RLWC2021.

Set to be the most inclusive rugby league event ever, RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments played concurrently for the first time. International nations were asked to submit their expressions of interest earlier this year for RLWC2021 and Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) representatives to review.

The nations confirmed for the women’s tournament are:

  • England (Hosts)
  • Australia (Holders)
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Cook Islands
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea

Each nation was assessed against set criteria that reviewed their current international and domestic infrastructure, their plans for growth and their potential impact on RLWC2021. The draw for the tournament will take place in November 2019.

Speaking about the announcement, Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “We’re delighted the three-times world champions, the Kiwi Ferns, will be taking part in the biggest and best Women’s RLWC in 2021. The Kiwi Ferns have fantastic quality in their ranks, and it will be brilliant to see them showcased to the world, here in England.

“I would like to congratulate each nation that has been chosen to take part in the women’s tournament. We had some fantastic submissions and unfortunately, we couldn’t say yes to each nation, however, we’re confident the chosen nations will play their role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time. It is especially pleasing to see an inaugural South American nation compete in a Rugby League World Cup”

RLIF Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wood added: “Women’s sport is growing exponentially, and rugby league is no exception. The fact that we were oversubscribed for this competition demonstrates the immense appetite for our sport. We are encouraged that female athletes around the world are participating and rising to the challenge of skill, fitness, strength and mental toughness provided by rugby league.

“I would like to add my congratulations to each nation and wish them all the best in their build-up to what will be a fantastic event in 2021 and to thank all the nations who participated in this process and we hope that they will join in the women’s Emerging Nations World Cup, which will be a part of the Festival of World Cups 2021.

“We have to ensure that there is clear pathway developed quickly to cater for a fuller women’s international programme with events organised locally, regionally and globally, all leading to a full qualification process for the RLWC2025.”

RLWC2021 will begin with the men’s opening fixture featuring England at St James’ Park on Saturday 23rd October 2021. The women’s tournament will begin at Anfield on Saturday 13th November 2021 and the wheelchair tournament will begin on Sunday 14th November 2021 at the Copper Box Arena, with England both featuring in those opening fixtures. The event will finish with a finals weekend (27th-28th November) with the wheelchair tournament concluding at the M&S Bank Arena and men’s and women’s final held as a double-header at Old Trafford.

When did you debut for the Kiwi Ferns?

2008 World Cup

How many tests have you played?

14 I think. 2008 – 2013 I played in two World Cups and all the tests in-between. Then I took a break and have just returned this year.

How does it feel to represent your country?

It’s the highest honour in our sport and the feeling is nothing but pure pride. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your job in youth justice? What does that entail?

My role as a Youth Justice Coordinator is to hold Young People aged 14-17 accountable for their alleged criminal offending.

I convene and facilitate Family Group Conferences that involve the Young Person, Whanau and professionals i.e. Lawyers, Police, Social Workers, Victims, Lay Advocates and Community Organisations etc.

Collectively our main goal is for our young people not to re-offend, we try to do that by building a support system and plan around the young person and their whanau. Having the victim of their crime participate in this restorative justice process is a key component to positive outcomes for all.  

Offences can range from an unlawful getting into a motor vehicle which is a penalty of two years imprisonment right through to aggravated robbery which is 14 years imprisonment. 

How long have you been doing this?

I have worked with young people in different capacities for the past six years but have been in this particular role for one year.

Why did you get into this occupation?

After working in a corporate space for so long, I wanted to utilise the skills I learnt there and invest these skills into young people and their whanau in my community. I grew up in Mangere, so working in South Auckland with our most vulnerable is familiar and my way of giving back to a community I love.

What do you love most about it?

I love seeing young people and their whanau succeed!!

Do find it challenging to balance rugby league and your professional career? If so, why?

Previously I did, I have only returned to league this year after a 6-year break as I wanted to focus on my family and career.

For me, balancing family life and Rugby League is much harder than juggling my professional career. It’s harder because we have a young family and my husband does shift work, so my training schedule one week is early mornings and then the following week it will be nights after the kids have gone to bed, plus all the normal duties in between but I love my life and my family – we know how to make it work for us.

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.

Why do you play league? 

My bread and butter was actually in Rugby Union, and I decided to venture over to Rugby League this year because I wanted to learn a new code, meet new people, test my capabilities both skill and character to truly see whether I had what it took to play professionally.

What got you into the game?

Funnily enough, it was through current Kiwi Fern and Warriors representative Georgia Hale and also former Kiwi Fern Alex Cook that planted the seed so I put my hand up to give league a go. I played Rugby Union both 15s and 17s with Georgia & Alex and over the years they had dropped the idea here and there, now it’s really happening.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced when it comes to playing league?

There are quite a few challenges that I have to face in Rugby League. In terms of the game itself; when you’ve only ever played one sport it can be extremely difficult changing your mindset to fit the code. Everything I have been taught in Rugby Union has basically gone out the door. For example, Learning new terminology, style of running, running lines, strategy of play and new techniques – especially around tackling & playing the ball.

To illustrate how green I am to league I didn’t know what “markers” were and that you had to roll the ball between your legs with your foot. Having to remind myself to get back 10m on defence and that you don’t form rucks at a breakdown or form mauls whilst only have six tackles is mentally challenging to break those behaviours.

From where I started to now, I am utterly thankful for the support and guidance from Victor Heke, my coach and mentor, and I’m especially grateful to my teammates from Mt Albert Rugby League Club. I have learnt so much and been embraced by them as though I was their family member. This has immensely helped me to become comfortable in the game and showcase what I am capable of.

Because I’ve only been in Rugby League for a few months and have been given the highest accolade to represent the Warriors in NRL and also New Zealand means another big challenge is actually having to learn the game at sprint rather than picking up things over seasons in which generally happens.

What advice would you give to young girls wanting to get into league?

I would encourage them to jump in with both feet, even if you’re scared because I’m an adult and I still get scared of the unknown. The best part about trying something new is that you can say you’ve done it. It’s a really brave thing to put yourself into a new environment with new people and for me, I’ve been blessed with a whole new group of friends that are now family, I’ve learnt new skills and found a true love for Rugby League.

So take a deep breath, be brave and jump in with both feet.

What’s your occupation?

Cultural Strategist in an IT Firm

What does this entail?

My role involves looking at user behaviours within organisations in order to better implement technology. My drive for what I do is about people. In my eyes, the most important thing in this world is people and as the demand for technology continues to increase, I believe we need to keep people at the forefront of our priorities.

Furthermore, I am also designing alongside my Aunt, an App that requires a large portion of time and energy.

How long have you been doing this?

4.5 years at V-dito

What got you into it?

Family. I studied psychology and I ended up falling into the role. I knew nothing about technology but I do understand human behaviour.

What do you love most about it?

There are two things: Firstly, helping my family prosper financially. Secondly, working with people because I genuinely care about putting people first through empathy, authenticity and logic.

By incorporating both of these means, I am theoretically in my dream job.

Do you find balancing your job and rugby league difficult? If so, why?

The challenges I face in regards to my career is that I work 24/7. With my Rugby League timetable and requirements, I can work remotely, but it doesn’t mean work stops. Whether I’m on my cellphone or laptop, I am connected at all times. People don’t necessarily understand why I do what I do, and to me that’s fine. Why I work so hard is because the business I work for is a family business so the biggest motivator for me is my family. We’ve come a less than fortunate place and for me, we aren’t going back. In my eyes, if our business is successful, my entire family prospers.

Nothing means more to me than making my family proud and with me playing and training at the highest level possible in league and working to feed the business; it is a privilege. I continuously pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.

What’s your professional goal?

My professional goal is to eventually start my own business.

What’s your rugby league goal?

I want to silence the naysayers and prove that through hard work, you can achieve great things. I don’t have the Kalyn Ponga flare or a crazy Benji Marshall whack, but I have an insane work ethic.

I’ve had four ACL reconstructions on my right knee (the last one was 2017) I was told that I would never be able to play a pivoting sport again and at that point, I decided what my body is capable of doing and through that mentality and never give up attitude that has got me onto this platform.

I’m a firm believer that we are the decider of what we can and cannot do. 

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.

Richard Becht & Photosport.nz

The Warriors have pulled off a huge coup by signing New Zealand sporting superstar, Honey Hireme to headline their 22-strong squad for the second WNRL Premiership starting September.

The double rugby league-rugby union international and current Kiwi Ferns captain has been secured after appearing for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the inaugural WNRL last season.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Honey in our squad this year,” said Warriors head coach Luisa Avaiki.

“She’s a great athlete and an outstanding performer in all her sports.

“Honey is a fantastic example with the way she goes about her career, still maintaining the highest standards even after all the years she has been competing at the highest level.”

The 38-year-old Putaruru-born Hireme was again in superb form leading the Kiwi Ferns to a 46-8 win over Fetu Samoa at Mount Smart Stadium on June 22. She scored two tries and made 214 metres from 19 runs.

A disability sport adviser in Hamilton, Hireme is the standout signing in the Warriors’ 2019 squad. One of 11 new faces signed, she’s also one of 16 players who were in last month’s Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa Test squads.

Among the other newcomers are former Fiji rugby union sevens stars Roela Radiniyavuni and Timaima Ravisa who clinched contracts after originally being scouted in Fiji. They’ve both being playing in the Auckland club competition this season.

Another new signing is Canterbury’s Charntay Poko, who made her Test debut in the halves against Samoa, while experienced former Kiwi Ferns winger Atawhai Tupaea makes a return to top-level football after giving birth to her second child.

Mosgiel-born Jules Newman, a 30-year-old cultural strategist, has been signed after she switched to rugby league from rugby union only three months ago. She immediately impressed in the code earning selection in the Kiwi Ferns’ 19-strong Test squad to face Samoa.

Apart from Hireme and Newman, other occupations listed by the squad members include mother, police, fitness co-ordinator, teacher aide, youth justice, student liaison officer, student, community co-ordinator, customer support and freight logistics.

Avaiki, who has Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan as assistant coach this season, said the squad would assemble in early August to train ahead of the WNRL starting on September 13-14.

She said the players’ focus had been on local club football. A big contingent of the signed players will be involved in the Auckland grand final between the Richmond Roses and Papakura Sisters at Mount Smart Stadium No 2 on Sunday (2.30pm kick-off).

Next on the agenda is the New Zealand Rugby League’s national women’s tournament at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura from July 26-28.

 

WARRIORS SQUAD | 2019 WNRL

BILLY JEAN ALE (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)

MADISON BARTLETT (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

GEORGIA HALE (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

HONEY HIREME (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)

AMBER KANI (Counties Manukau, Manurewa Marlins)

ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)

HILDA MARIU (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)

VA’ANESSA MOLIA-FRASER (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

JULES NEWMAN (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)

APII NICHOLLS (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)

TANIKA-JAZZ NOBLE-BELL (Akarana, Mount Albert)

ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

KANYON PAUL (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)

CHARNTAY POKO (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

ROELA RADINIYAVUNI (Richmond Roses)

TIMAIMA RAVISA (Richmond Roses)

KRYSTAL ROTA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)

TASIA SEUMANUFAGAI (Victoria, Combined Affiliated States)

AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)

CRYSTAL TAMARUA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)

ATAWHAI TUPAEA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)

KATHLEEN WHARTON KEREMETE (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)

The annual NZRL National Women’s Tournament sees the best female rugby league talent from across the country come together to represent their zones in Auckland.

This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.

THE NZRL NATIONAL WOMEN’S TEAMS

COUNTIES MANUKAU STINGRAYS CANTERBURY WAI-COA-BAY STALLIONS MID CENTRAL VIPERS AKARANA FALCONS AUCKLAND VULCANS DEV

 

DAY 1 – FRIDAY

 

RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
ROUND 1
1 26 July Counties Manukau Stingrays vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 2 11.00 am
1 26 July Canterbury vs Miid-Central Vipers 3 11.00 am
 
1 26 July Akarana Falcons vs Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 1 12.15 pm

 

RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
ROUND 2
2 26 July Mid-Central Vipers vs Counties Manukau Stingrays 1 14.00 pm
 
2 26 July Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 2 15.00 pm
2 26 July Akarana Falcons vs Canterbury 3 15.00 pm

 

DAY 2 – SATURDAY

RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
ROUND 3
3 27 July Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions vs Mid-Central Vipers 3 09.30 am
3 27 July Counties Manukau Stingrays vs Akarana Falcons 2 09.30 am
 
3 27 July Canterbury vs Auckland Vulcans Dev 1 10.30 am

 

SEMI FINALS
RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
Game 2

SF2

27 July 1st Group B vs 2nd Group A 3 13:00 pm
Game 1
SF1
27 July 1st Group A vs 2nd Group B 1 13:00 pm

 

DAY 3 – SUNDAY-FINALS

FINALS
RD Date Team 1 VS Team 2 Field Time
5th/6th Play off 28 July 3rd Group A vs 3rd Group B 3 10.30 am
3rd /4th Play off 28 July Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 2 2 11.30 am
Grand Final 28 July Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2 1 13.05 pm

 

PLEASE NOTE: DRAW IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE

 


#TheKiwiWay

Kiwi Ferns centre Kiana Takairangi followed in her brother Brad’s footsteps by scoring for New Zealand on debut in the comprehensive 46-8 win over Samoa.

But Kiana went a step further and scored a brace at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday. Coincidently her first Test points were against the same country as older brother, when he scored a try on debut for the Kiwis against Samoa in the 2017 World Cup.

Kiana’s speed and a nifty left-foot step in producing her two four-pointers helped the Ferns jump to 26-0 lead after 29 minutes.

The Samoans were finding it difficult to match the Ferns skills, especially when centre Honey Hireme fends off two players with her right arms on the way to the white line.

The Samoans at least went into half-time with something to show for a hard 40 minutes.

Billy-Jean Ale came off the bench to score in the 38th minute but the road back was still a lengthy one, down 26-4 at the break.

But a good way to start was by being the first to score in the second half, when winger Moana Fineaso-Levi pushed through two defenders to plant the ball in the 47th to make it 26-8.

But the gap quickly widened again as Hireme scored her second (51st), winger Madison Bartlett spun out of a tackle (55th) in the left corner, former NSW Origin utility Nita Maynard (58th) crossed, and suddenly it was 40-8.

Maynard was ineligible for NSW this year due to a rule change on eligibility of Kiwi players playing in the NRLW and Harvey Norman club championships.

Ferns fullback Apii Nicholls scored in the 73rd minute to wrap up the nine tries-to-two victory.

It was Samoa’s first women’s international in eight years – the last was in 2011 against Australia in Apia. They had not played the Ferns since 2008.

nrl.com

Waikato rugby league achieves a special double by providing captains of both the New Zealand Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns in today’s international double header at Mount Smart Stadium.

Hamilton-born, Ngaruawahia-raised Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s junior club was College Old Boys in Hamilton.

He captains the Kiwis for the fifth time in today’s Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga after making his captaincy debut in last October’s clash against Australia at the same ground.

Putaruru-born and raised Honey Hireme brings a Waikato flavour to the Kiwi Ferns’ captaincy today. Hireme, who now lives in Hamilton, played her junior rugby league for the Putaruru Dragons and is playing for the Hamilton City Tigers this year.

 

Kiwi Ferns team changes

Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has shuffled his line-up for today’s international against Fetu Samoa at Mount Smart Stadium (3.10pm kick-off).

Debutante Charntay Poko was named in jersey #18 when the team was officially submitted on Tuesday but following the week’s training sessions, Morgan has brought her in to start in the halves with Raecene McGregor.

That sees Raquel Anderson-Pitman (#6) moved to the interchange while there’s also a change in the starting front row with Amber Paris Hall (#15) swapped in for Aieshaleigh Smalley (#8).

The bench is Anderson-Pitman, Smalley, Nita Maynard and Crystal Tamarua with Amber Kani and Jules Newman the 18th and 19th players.

The New Zealand Kiwis are confirmed to line up 1-17 as named on Tuesday with Zane Tetevano and Kieran Foran in #18 and #19.

While Kani has missed the playing 17 for the Kiwi Ferns, eight of her 2018 Warriors WNRL team-mates are in the side. The Vodafone Warriors also provide three members of the coaching staff in Justin Morgan and Luisa Avaiki plus trainer Mark Harvey. The eight players lining up are Apii Nicholls, Hilda Mariu, Krystal Rota, Annetta Nuuausala, Georgia Hale, Anderson-Pitman, Smalley and Tamarua.

In a reversal of their Kiwi Ferns roles, Avaiki will again coach the Warriors in the WNRL this year while Morgan will be her assistant.

The Vodafone Warriors also provide two of Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire’s assistant coaches in Stacey Jones and Nathan Cayless as well as three players in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ken Maumalo and Leeson Ah Mau.

 

Previous clashes against Tonga

Tonight’s Test will be the sixth between the Kiwis and Mate Ma’a Tonga.

Results since the first in 1995:

1995 | Kiwis 25, Tonga 24 at Wilderspool, Warrington (RLWC)

1999 | Kiwis 74, Tonga 0 at Carlaw Park, Auckland

2008 | Kiwis 56, Tonga 8 at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

2009 | Kiwis 40, Tonga 24 at International Stadium, Rotorua

2017 | Kiwis 22, Tonga 28 at Waikato Stadium, Auckland

 

Sir Peter Leitch Challenge Trophy at stake

The Kiwis v Tonga Test is the first in the new Oceania Cup competition.

The Kiwis will meet the Kangaroos at the end of the season and Tonga will play the Australians as well.

Also at stake tonight is the Sir Peter Leitch Challenge Trophy.

This was first contested as the Peter Leitch QSM Challenge Trophy in 2008 when the Kiwis met Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium.

A new version of the trophy was struck after Sir Peter was knighted. It’s at stake whenever the Kiwis play island nations in non-Rugby League World Cup internationals.

 

Marshall not most experienced Kiwi

While the 34-year-old Benji Marshall made his Kiwi Test debut as long ago as 2005, he won’t be the New Zealand side’s most experienced international on the field today.

That honour belongs to halves partner Shaun Johnson who is Marshall’s junior by six years.

Johnson (28) will play his 30th Test today while Marshall, off the international scene for seven years, lines up for the 28th time.

In fact, two other Kiwi players have also made more Test appearances than Marshall. Props Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves both take their Test tallies to 29 in this contest.

Richard Becht & Photosport.nz

Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Justin Morgan has named two debutantes for Saturday’s test against Fetu Samoa. Madison Bartlett and Kiana Takairangi will take the field in the Black and White jersey for the first time in the inaugural Oceania Cup clash at Mount Smart Stadium.

Sydney-based Takairangi, who plays for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, will join her brother Brad Takairangi as a Kiwi international.

Bartlett, a former New Zealand age-group touch representative and current Richmond Rovers player, will start on the wing with Takairangi joining Kiwi Ferns captain Honey Hireme in the centres.

The much-anticipated match between Samoa and the Ferns will kick off at 3:10pm, this Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.

GET TICKETS HERE

Kiwi Ferns: 1 Apii Nicholls, 2 Madison Bartlett, 3 Honey Hireme (c), 4 Kiana Takairangi, 5 Hilda Mariu, 6 Raquel Anderson-Pitman, 7 Raecene Mcgregor, 8 Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, 9 Krystal Rota, 10 Aeishaleigh Smalley, 11 Kathleen Wharton, 12 Teuila Fotu-Moala, 13, Georgia Hale. Interchange: 14 Nita Maynard, 15 Amber Paris-Hall, 16 Amber Kani, 17 Crystal Tamarua, 18 Charntay Poko, 19 Jules Newman.

Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson have been listed as the starting halves combination for the New Zealand Kiwis’ Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).

Head coach Michael Maguire has named Marshall (34) in the No 7 jersey for his 28th Test, seven years after his last. Johnson is listed in the No 6 jersey for his 30th international.

The Kiwis were required to submit their team tonight despite having just their first field session at Mount Smart Stadium today. Of the starting team used in the 34-0 third Test win over England in Leeds last November, four players are missing.

Captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named on the wing replacing Jamayne Isaako with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in his first Test since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Marshall replaces the unavailable Kodi Nikorima while debutant Briton Nikora and Kenny Bromwich – on the interchange in Leeds – come into the starting back row to replace the injured Kevin Proctor and Adam Blair.

The extended bench comprises Jahrome Hughes, Leeson Ah Mau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, James Fisher-Harris, Zane Tetevano and Kieran Foran.

Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan has also named a strong and clinical team to take on Fetu Samoa on Saturday (3.10pm). It features debutantes Madison Bartlett and Kiana Takairangi.

The Kiwi Ferns also trained at Mount Smart Stadium today.

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v MATE MA’A TONGA

5.40pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia)

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK
(Vodafone Warriors)
2 KEN MAUMALO
(Vodafone Warriors)
3 ESAN MARSTERS
(Wests Tigers)
4 JOSEPH MANU
(Sydney Roosters)
5 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (c)
(Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
6 SHAUN JOHNSON
(Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
7 BENJI MARSHALL
(Wests Tigers)
8 JESSE BROMWICH
(Melbourne Storm)
9 BRANDON SMITH
(Melbourne Storm)
10 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES
(Sydney Roosters)
11 KENNY BROMWICH
(Melbourne Storm)
12 BRITON NIKORA
(Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
13 ISAAC LIU
(Sydney Roosters)
Interchange:
14 JAHROME HUGHES
(Melbourne Storm)
15 LEESON AH MAU
(Vodafone Warriors)
16 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA
(Melbourne Storm)
17 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS 
(Penrith Panthers)
18 ZANE TETEVANO
(Sydney Roosters)
19 KIERAN FORAN
(Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)

HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE

For full player profiles please click here – https://bit.ly/2KYd6wS

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v MATE MA’A TONGA

Player Club Kiwi No Tests for NZ
LEESON AH MAU Vodafone Warriors 812 5
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA Melbourne Storm 804 5
JESSE BROMWICH Melbourne Storm 775 28
KENNEATH BROMWICH Melbourne Storm 796 7
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS Penrith Panthers 801 5
KIERAN FORAN Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 757 21
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm
SHAUN JOHNSON Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 774 29
ISAAC LIU Sydney Roosters 805 7
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters 815 4
BENJI MARSHALL Wests Tigers 717 27
ESAN MARSTERS Wests Tigers 809 5
KEN MAUMALO Vodafone Warriors 810 5
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm 816 4
ZANE TETEVANO Sydney Roosters
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK Vodafone Warriors 779 16
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES Sydney Roosters 755 28
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 794 11

 

KIWI FERNS v FETU SAMOA

3.10pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Paki Parkinson (New Zealand)

1 APII NICHOLLS
2 MADISON BARTLETT
3 HONEY HIREME (c)
4 KIANA TAKAIRANGI
5 HILDA MARIU
6 RAQUEL ANDERSON-PITMAN
7 RAECENE McGREGOR
8 ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA
9 KRYSTAL ROTA
10 AEISHALEIGH SMALLEY
11 KATHLEEN WHARTON
12 TEUILA FOTU-MOALA
13 GEORGIA HALE
14 NITA MAYNARD
15 AMBER PARIS HALL
16 AMBER KANI
17 CRYSTAL TAMARUA
18 CHARNTAY POKO
19 JULES NEWMAN

HEAD COACH | JUSTIN MORGAN

 

 

Photo – photosport

SKY Sport and New Zealand Rugby League have today announced a new partnership for 2019 that is set to further enhance the game of rugby league in New Zealand.

 

This partnership is in addition to the long-standing broadcast agreement that has showcased rugby league in New Zealand and abroad for many years.

 

The SKY Sport logo will be proudly displayed on the jerseys of the Kiwis, Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis, as well as on the Kiwi Ferns’ shorts ahead of the Oceania Cup that kicks off this Saturday with the Kiwi Ferns taking on Fetu Samoa, followed by the much-anticipated rematch between Mate Ma‘a Tonga and the Kiwis.

 

NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, says this partnership with SKY Sport couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Like other codes, we are experiencing an explosion in the women’s game, and this high-profile partnership will shine a brighter spotlight on this.

 

“Their support will enable our Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis to take the field in more fixtures this year than would have otherwise been possible. Our Kiwi Ferns will play in the upcoming inaugural World Nines in Sydney and take the field again against the Jillaroos at the doubleheader in Wollongong on October 25th. Our Junior Kiwis are also set to take on their Australian counterparts towards the back end of the year as well.

 

“We are very grateful to have SKY Sport on board to enable further momentum for these teams. We’re excited about what we can achieve this year as a result, as well as going forward, as we work towards a long-term partnership. Thank you SKY Sport for your ongoing and invaluable support.” Greg concludes.

 

SKY Director of Sport, Tex Teixeira says: “SKY Sport has been a long term supporter of rugby league in New Zealand and we’re thrilled to be able to help increase the number of Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis matches being played in 2019, to have SKY Sport on the jerseys is a proud moment for us.”

 

Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has tonight named his 19-strong squad ahead of their clash against Fetu Samoa to launch the inaugural Oceania Cup at Mount Smart Stadium on June 22.

The all-Pacific doubleheader will see the Kiwi Ferns take on Fetu Samoa for the first time in 11 years ahead of the much-anticipated rematch between the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga.

The Kiwi Ferns will be captained by 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and veteran centre Honey Hireme, who first wore the black and white jersey 17 years ago.

She’s joined by a number of stand-out players from last year’s blockbuster Trans-Tasman Triple Header including 2017 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and star fullback Apii Nicholls, centre Amber Kani and front rowers Annetta Nuuausala and Aeishaleigh Smalley – all with the Warriors – plus St George Illawarra halfback Raecene McGregor, Sydney Roosters hooker Nita Maynard, Brisbane Broncos second rower Teuila Fotu-Moala and Warriors playmakers Georgia Hale and Raquel Anderson-Pitman.

Four Kiwi Ferns debutantes have been named including Jules Newman (Mt Albert), Madison Bartlett and Charntay Poko (Richmond Rovers) and Sydney based Kiana Takairangi.

“We’re really lucky to have that mix of leadership and young talent in the team,” said Morgan.

“The girls are eager to take the field again in the black and white and a lot of them are following on from last year’s triple header Test, which is a strength for us.

“The narrow loss to the Aussies still hurts and we know Samoa will come out firing, but we’ve got some great leaders who will bring that invaluable experience, coupled with exciting new debutantes, so we’ll be bringing our best game.

“We’re really looking forward to getting into camp and focusing all our efforts on the Test.”

Tickets are still available for the Oceania Cup doubleheader here.

Gates at Mount Smart Stadium will open at 2.00pm on June 22 with the Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa match kicking off at 3.10pm and the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga match kicking off at 5.40pm.

KIWI FERNS SQUAD

RAQUEL ANDERSON- PITMAN

MADISON BARTLETT

TEUILA FOTU-MOALA

GEORGIA HALE

AMBER PARIS HALL

HONEY HIREME

AMBER KANI

HILDA MARIU

NITA MAYNARD

RAECENE MCGREGOR

JULES NEWMAN

APII NICHOLLS

ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA

CHARNTAY POKO

KRYSTAL ROTA

AEISHALEIGH SMALLEY

CRYSTAL TAMARUA

KIANA TAKAIRANGI

KATHLEEN WHARTON

Photo – Photosport

NZRL are now open to receiving applications of interest for the roles of Head Coach, Assistant Coach and Head Trainer for the Kiwi Ferns and the Junior Kiwis.

Applications close at 5pm on Monday 25 February 2019.

Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Job Description, click here.

Kiwi Ferns Assistant Coach Job Description, click here. 

Kiwi Ferns Head Trainer Job Description, click here. 

Junior Kiwis Head Coach Job Description, click here.

Junior Kiwis Assistant Coach Job Description, click here. 

Junior Kiwis Head Trainer Job Description, click here. 

For any enquiries about the roles or if you are interested in applying, please send your covering letter and coaching CV to: [email protected] before the allocated time and date.

The Jillaroos take home their first win in New Zealand for 19 years with a 26-24 defeat of the Kiwi Ferns in another epic clash between the two nations at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.

Ballinger, who was a member of the Brisbane team which won the inaugural Holden NRL Women’s Premiership, was named player of the match in her farewell Test for Australia as the Jillaroos overcome the loss of star St George Illawarra forward Kezie Apps.

With the teams scoring five tries apiece, the goal kicking of fullback Chelsea Baker proved the difference but she missed her last two attempts and appeared to be affected by a groin injury.

The Kiwi Ferns were also hit hard by injuries and lost halfback Kimiora Nati with a knee injury in the first half and co-captain Laura Mariu to a shoulder problem after the interval.

They also had to overcome a controversial refereeing decision but managed to fight back from a poor start to lead until five minutes from fulltime when Sydney Roosters centre Isabelle Kelly scored her second try to snatch victory.

Brigginshaw then scored herself eight minutes later after stepping her way over the try line to put the Jillaroos ahead 12-0.

The first sign of the fightback from the Kiwi Ferns came in the 22nd minute when veteran Honey Hireme raced down the sideline and hurled a pass inside but the touch judge ruled she had put a foot into touch.

With Hireme having raised the crowd to their feet with her run, there were howls of protest when the incident was replayed on the big screen but the decision could not be overturned and a chance went begging for the Kiwi Ferns.

However, the home team got on the scoreboard soon after when Dragons playmaker Raecene McGregor put winger Langi Veainu over for the first of her two tries with a cut-out pass in the 30th minute.

The celebrations for Kiwi Ferns were short lived when halfback Kimiora Nati suffered a knee injury in the following set of six and while she bravely tried to play on the player of the NRLW grand final had to leave the field in the 33rd minute.

Despite the loss of Nati, the Kiwi Ferns continued to build momentum after halftime and they scored their second try in the 44th minute when Annetta Nuuausala crashed over.

Fullback Apii Nicholls again missed the shot at goal but put her side ahead for the first time in the match when she regathered a kick from McGregor to put Veanu over for her second try and converted in the 47th minute.

The Jillaroos hit back almost immediately when Sydney Roosters second-rower Tazmin Gray, the sister of Kiwis and Canberra winger Jordan Rapana, managed to force the ball over the try line in the 51st minute.

The Kiwi Ferns lost Mariu in the 55th minute but managed to level the scores in the following set of tackles when Brisbane forward Teuila Fotu-Moala sent centre Maitua Feterika racing for the tryline.

The teams continued to trade tries, with Kelly running 70 metres to score for the Jillaroos in the 56th minute after skipping out of dummy half and fending off an attempted tackle by Nita Maynard.

With Baker missing the conversion, Warriors prop Amber Kani appeared to have snatched victory when she used late footwork near the tryline to score in the 70th minuite but Kelly ensured the Jillaroos maintained their recent domination over the Kiwi Ferns when she finished off a backline movement five minutes before full-time.

New Zealand Kiwi Ferns 24 (Langi Veainu 2, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Maitua Feterika, Amber Kani tries; Apii Nicholls 2 goals) Australia Jillaroos 26 (Julia Robinson, Ali Brigginshaw, Tazmin Gray, Isabelle Kelly 2 tries; Chelsea Baker 3 goals)

Kiwi Ferns co-captains Laura Mariu and Honey Hireme will pull on the 36 years of international rugby league experience between them to lead the Kiwi Ferns in their match-up against the Jillaroos on Saturday.

Coach Kelvin Wright has named his side for the Trans-Tasman Triple-Header which boasts some of the top talent in the recent inaugural NRL Women’s grand final. Powerhouse prop Ngatokotoru Arakua, who is one of four NRLW Premiership winning players in the starting line-up, will pair with Warriors prop Aieshaleigh Smalley up front, while Maitua Feterika and co-captain Honey Hireme will run out in the centres.

NRLW grand final Player of the Match Kimiora Nati will steer the team in the halves alongside Raecene McGregor, a combination that proved lethal in the Kiwi Ferns 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign.

Consistent and dangerous with ball in hand, Warriors fullback Apii Nicholls will play at the back in the number one jersey with Langi Veainu and Karley Te Kawa on the wings. Te Kawa makes her deserved return to the Kiwi Ferns squad eight years on from her Kiwi Ferns debut at the 2010 match against Great Britain at Trust Arena, and five years on from her last stint with the New Zealand side at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England.

Gisborne born Nita Maynard will get the start as hooker with Fotu-Moala in the second row and co-captain Laura Mariu drawing on her five World Cups of experience as loose forward.

The interchange will provide impact through Georgia Hale, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Amber Kani and South Islander Sui Pauaraisa, who is one of two players, Onjeurlina Leiataua being the second, set to make their debut for the national women’s side.

In high spirits about the Kiwi Ferns camp so far, Kelvin Wright is confident his team will be putting their best foot forward against the current World Champions.

“I’m really happy with how training has been going this week. We have some extremely valuable coaching staff in amongst the team (referring to Assistant Coaches Justin Morgan, Tim McIntyre and Trainer Simon Mannering) who are providing critical feedback for the players,”

“The players are in great form after the recent NRL competition and they are so eager to get into the black and white jersey to represent their country with pride,” he said.

1            APII NICHOLLS

2            KARLEY TE KAWA

3            HONEY HIREME

4            MAITUA FETERIKA

5            LANGI VEAINU

6            RAECENE McGREGOR

7            KIMIORA NATI

8            NGATOKOTORU ARAKUA

9            NITA MAYNARD

10          AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY

11          ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA*

12          TEUILA FOTU-MOALA

13          LAURA MARIU

14          GEORGIA HALE

15          ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA

16          SUI PAUARAISA*

17          AMBER KANI

18          RAQUEL ANDERSON-PITTMAN

19          LILIETA MAUMAU

 

*debutants

Kiwi Ferns Head Coach, Kelvin Wright has named his 19-women squad ahead of the highly anticipated Trans-Tasman Triple-Header on 13 October.

 

Amongst the 19 is halfback Kimiora Nati who will be riding the high after picking up a hat-trick at last night’s inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership grand-final, driving the Brisbane Broncos to their Premiership title. She also received recognition for her outstanding grand-final display taking home the Player of the Grand-Final award. Nati is joined by several of her teammates who were stand-outs during the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup including 2017 NZRL Women’s Player of the Year, fullback Apii Nicholls.

 

At a press conference today, Nicholls wore the new Kiwi Ferns playing jersey to mark the New Zealand Rugby League’s (NZRL) new partnership with apparel provider, ISC. NZRL CEO Greg Peters announced he was “really excited to have such a reputable and high-quality apparel company such as ISC on board,”

 

“It’s important that our Kiwi Ferns are outfitted in a brand that is renowned for producing quality rugby league gear – that’s ISC,” he said.

 

Brett Corrick from ISC reciprocated the excitement saying, “it is a great honour and privilege to be the official apparel partner of the New Zealand Rugby League, a brand that lives by the values of integrity, respect, leadership, courage, passion,”

“We look forward to seeing both the players and their passionate fans wearing the ISC gear with pride and going on their sporting journey together,” Corrick said.

In addition to Nicholls and Nati, seven other players were in the Counties Manukau Stingrays who took out their ninth successive National Women’s Tournament title this year. One of those players being Kiwi Ferns veteran, Laura Mariu who is no stranger to the Trans-Tasman rivalry having played in all five Women’s World Cups to date. Her stellar National Women’s Tournament earlier in the year saw her then progress into the Women’s Warriors squad which she captained in the four-week competition.

 

Another veteran to sport the black and white again is Honey Hireme. She first played for the Kiwi Ferns 16 years ago in 2002, and after a brilliant stint with the St George Illawarra Dragons, she will look to back-up her fine form in the World Cup where she was top try-scorer.

 

Kelvin Wright said his team is filled with “some great leadership and experience mixed with some exciting youth whose form has been too hard to ignore.”

 

“It’s always extra special when you can hand players their debut,” he added. One of those Kiwi Ferns debutants is Counties Manukau Stingrays centre Onjeurlina Leiataua, a proven powerhouse in her breakout season with the Warriors. She is joined by Broncos utility Lavinia Gould and Cantabrian Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa who make up the three debutants in the squad.

 

As expected, the selection process was difficult as Wright admits, “there’s been a lot of Kiwi talent on show and excitement is certainly brewing amongst the women as the 13 October Trans-Tasman Triple-Header nears.”

 

Last year marked the first time Australian based Kiwis were eligible to play in the Kiwi Ferns jumper, an opportunity halfback Raecene McGregor and Gisborne born Nita Maynard relished with both hands. The two of them have again earnt a spot in the Kiwi Ferns after fantastic performances for the St George Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters respectively, Maynard playing hooker for the Roosters who finished runners-up in the grand-final.

 

“For all involved now we are looking forward to getting into camp and putting our full efforts into preparing for our clash against the Jillaroos,” Wright said.

 

The Kiwi Ferns go into camp on 7 October in preparation for the Trans-Tasman Triple-Header at Mt Smart on 13 October.

 

To buy tickets, click the Ticketek link here. Adult ticket prices start from $35.

Saturday, 13 October

Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos 3.05pm

Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos 5.15pm

Kiwis v Kangaroos 7.45pm

 

Kiwi Ferns listed by NRLW team:

*debutants

New Zealand Warriors: Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Apii Nicholls, Langi Veainu, Amber Kani, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Aieshaleigh Smalley, Laura Mariu, *Onjeurlina Leiataua, *Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa-Pauaraisa; Brisbane Broncos: Ngatokotoru Arakua, Karley Te Kawa, Kimiora Nati, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Maitua Feterika, *Lavinia Gould, Lilieta Maumau; St George Illawarra Dragons: Honey Hireme, Raecene McGregor; Sydney Roosters: Nita Maynard

Kiwi Ferns star Teuila Fotu-Moala has helped Brisbane all but cemented their spot in the NRLW final after overcoming some early nerves to convincingly beat the Sydney Roosters 14-4.

Fotu-Moala scored a try in the win and ran for 22m as well as making two linebreaks and four tackle busts in the win.

It was the Broncos’ second win from as many matches and cemented their status as the team to beat in the inaugural women’s competition at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

Not even the return of Jillaroos prop Ruan Sims could inspire the Roosters, who are winless after two games and out of the running to advance.

To make matters worse, they could be without star centre Isabelle Kelly next week after a crusher tackle on Meg Ward midway through the second half.

The Broncos led 10-0 at halftime but the scoreline could have easily been reversed after the Roosters bombed two tries in the opening 13 minutes.

Back-rower Vanessa Foliaki looked certain to score before being held up by a desperate Chelsea Baker.

Roosters fullback Karina Brown also let a try go begging when she failed to ground a loose grubber, and from there the Broncos took control.

Ali Brigginshaw dummied her way through the line before Fotu-Moala crashed over five minutes later to give the Broncos a healthy lead at the break.

Broncos centre Ward delivered the coup de grace seven minutes after halftime.

Kelly got the Roosters’ only points when she crossed on the back of a weight of possession with two minutes remaining.

After their 30-4 romp over the Dragons last week, the Broncos are the only unbeaten side in the competition.

They would have to lose to the Warriors next week and have several results run against them to miss the final.

By Newshub

Luisa Avaiki has been named a finalist for the 2018 NEXT Magazine Woman of the Year awards.

In rugby league circles, Luisa is a legend who is known for her dedication, integrity, vision and humility.

From 1995-2009, she was a member of the Kiwi Ferns and was a part of all World Cup-winning teams (2000, 2003, 2008, being captain for two of them (2003 & 2008).

The former player and trail-blazer has been a driving force of the sport for the past two decades. Not only is she the NZRL Wellbeing & Women’s Development Manager, she has been instrumental in getting more women playing the game.

In March this year, a long-held dream of Luisa’s was realised when she became the first woman to be appointed head coach with an NRL club.

Other finalists for the 2018 NEXT Magazine Woman of the Year awards:

Sophie Devine: White Ferns Player

Natalie Taylor: Tall Ferns Co-Captain

Professor Sarah Leberman: Sports Researcher

Sarah Goss: Black Ferns Sevens Captain

Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains: Research Fellow

Dr Philippa Howden-Chapman: Professor Of Public Health

Dr Nicola Gaston: MacDiarmid Institute Co-Director

Dr Julia Rucklidge: Professor Of Clinical Psychology

Dr Jane Harding: Professor Of Neonatology

With their first game of the NRL Women’s Premiership against the Roosters done and dusted, winger Langi Veainu has been able to tap into some valuable advice.

She is the sister of rugby player, Telusa Veainu, who played for the Highlanders, Crusaders and Rebels before heading to Leicester in the English Premiership.

Telusa is three years older than Langi and although he lives on the other side of the world, she says they stay in regular contact, particularly before each big game Langi plays.

“We always chat,” Langi said.

“Before I go out onto the field he calls me or sends a message and gives me tips like stay calm and focus on my role, for me to do my job out there and then everything else will come naturally.”

Telusa is best remembered in New Zealand for a stunning 95m try he scored for the Crusaders against the Highlanders in 2013, showing an incredible sidestep and turn of pace, that’s clearly a family trait.

“It gave me motivation to compete,” Langi said of how Telusa inspired her.

“There was the feeling that I want to be just like my brother and be on the world stage, showcasing my talent.

“I’d watch him train and play and that motivated me to want to be like him. He was definitely a big help.”

Sport has always been a big thing in the Veainu family. Langi has six brothers and four sisters and she describes her parents as ‘amazing.’

Naturally in such a big family, there was a fair amount of competition among the siblings.

“We were always having cricket games and playing different kinds of sports out on the front lawn, competing with each other,” Langi said.

“It was always fun to come together and compete with each other in sports, while we did have a few scraps here and there!”

Langi and Telusa aren’t the only ones keen on a sporting career, their sister, Katofoekina is in the Counties Manukau rugby team and her younger brothers have been making strides in rugby and league.

Her career has advanced further in league, having already played for the Kiwi Ferns and she’s still unsure what she’d do if both national teams wanted her.

However, the 24-year-old is reaching her peak at a crucial time in both codes for women as players are now getting paid and it’s becoming that can be considered a serious career move.

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity to play and get paid for it,” she said.

“I’m grateful anyway for being able to play the sport I love, but having that pay on top is like a bonus.”

By Stuff.co.nz

Rugby league superstars from New Zealand and Australia will face-off in a classic Trans-Tasman showdown of three back-to-back Test matches at Mt Smart stadium.

On Saturday 13 October, the Junior Kiwis will take on the Junior Kangaroos followed by the mighty Kiwi Ferns up against World Cup champions, the Jillaroos. The final clash of the night sees the Kiwis battle the Kangaroos for the first time on New Zealand soil since 2014.

This will be the first time new Kiwis Coach Michael Maguire will be at the helm in front of a home crowd and says it’s sure to be an unforgettable night.

“This is the start of a new journey with the Kiwi Rugby League team and we are looking forward to showing our families, the fans and our teammates what it means to represent the Kiwi jersey.  Plus the fans have been waiting a long time to see this match-up on their home soil.”

For the Kiwi Ferns, the prospect of some fresh faces to compliment the several seasoned veterans is giving Head Coach Kelvin Wright plenty to ponder ahead of the final team selection.

“It’s a new beginning for the Kiwi Ferns and Women’s Rugby League, and what better way to start than at home in front of family, friends and future Ferns.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring our elite women players together after experiencing their first taste of the WNRL, where we will have some tremendous talent competing to wear the black jersey,” says Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Kelvin Wright.

“Sporting supremacy between neighbours is something both New Zealand and Australian sports fans thrive on. In one night at Mt Smart, the very best of men’s and women’s international rugby league is on offer between two great league nations for the first time in a long time,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.

Six teams, three Test matches, one place – Mt Smart, the home of rugby league.

All three matches will be on Sky Sport: Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos 3pm, Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos 5pm and Kiwis v Kangaroos 7.45pm.

Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek – Adult ticket prices from $35 and children from $15. Special family and multi-ticket deals are available. Click here to view ticket deals. 

 

Luisa Avaiki believes the inaugural NRL women’s premiership is a big “opportunity” for women playing in NZ.

All Lorina Papali’i wanted to do was be a trainer for the inaugural Warriors women’s team, but it was confirmed on Wednesday she’d cracked the squad.

The 41-year old-mother of Warriors’ second rower, Isaiah Papali’i is one of the 22 named Warriors squad for the short women’s NRL season, which will take place during the playoff rounds of the men’s NRL competition.

Papali’i had a glittering rugby league career, playing for the Kiwi Ferns from 2001 to 2010, playing in two World Cups, and also represented Samoa in two rugby union World Cups.

But she spent eight years out of the game, to be involved in cross fit and only put the boots on again when a women’s NRL competition came on the radar.

Initially, she was interested in being the trainer for the team, but was encouraged to give it a go to make the squad.

Lorina Papali'i, third from left, and some of her Warriors' team-mates at the squad announcement at Mt Smart.

“I have one life, one opportunity and feel it’s now or never,” she said.

“I was missing in action for eight years and did cross fit.

“But my goal has been hard work this year. I felt like I was hit by a bus.

“I’ve had a lot of treatment, physio, chiro, I’ve hit the pools, I’ve done hot and colds after the game and during the week.

“So there’s been a lot of rehab for me and my recovery is not as fast as the younger ones.”

She said she has been inspired to have another crack at rugby league by her son, who is this week in the Gold Coast, with the rest of the men’s team, preparing for Saturday’s game against the Dragons in Wollongong.

Lorina Papali'i in action for the Kiwi Ferns, whom she represented from 1994 to 2005.

Lorina Papali’i in action for the Kiwi Ferns, whom she represented from 1994 to 2005.

“He’s very supportive,” Lorina said.

“He’s proud and that’s what gives me the energy to get up each day, to make him proud.”

But likewise, Isaiah is just as impressed with his mother, who has been a big influence on his career.

“She’s always at my games giving me feedback. She’s still the master and I’m still trying to learn from her,” Isaiah said.

“I grew up watching her play footy. She was a really good player so watching her and my dad, I was inspired to go on this pathway after being being around the environment.”

If there’s any disappointment from Lorina about making this Warriors squad, it’s that there wasn’t this opportunity for her 20 years ago.

Lorina Papali'i's 19-year-old son Isaiah is enjoying a breakout season with the Warriors this year.

Lorina Papali’i’s 19-year-old son Isaiah is enjoying a breakout season with the Warriors this year.

“For the girls I played with in the past, it would have been amazing to have had this kind of pathway,” she said.

“I feel like I’m representing the past, the present and this team is paving the way for the future.”

The Warriors squad also includes Kiwi Ferns captain Laura Mariu and the experienced international Sarina Clark, who missed last year’s World Cup due to the birth of her third child.

Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki is delighted with the squad she has at her disposal for the inaugural competition.

“New Zealand Rugby League put out some information to the girls about making sure they’d feel good about their decisions if they’re approached.

“But to be honest, I didn’t know how hard other clubs were going until I heard they were engaging with certain players and then some of our players were going over.

“I know some of those girls well and it was never about holding onto them and saying they have to play for me, it was about what was best for them and their families.”

Warriors women’s player Krystal Rota credits family for their help with her sick daughter Nikayla.

The Warriors will warm up for the competition with a match against Auckland in a double header with the men’s team at Mt Smart Stadium on August 10.

AT A GLANCE

Warriors women’s NRL squad: Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Sarina Clark, Lisa Edwards, Luisa Gago, Georgia Hale, Amber Kani, Onjeurlina Leiataua, Hilda Mariu, Laura Mariu, Va’anessa Molia-Fraser, Apii Nicholls, Tanika-Jazz Noble-Bell, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Lorina Papali’i, Kahurangi Peters, Krystal Rota, Aieshaleigh Smalley, Masuisuimatamaalii (Sui) Tauasa-Pauaraisa, Crystal Tamarua, Alice Vailea, Langi Veainu, Shontelle Woodman

The Manurewa Marlins made it back-to-back Farrelly Photos Women’s Premiership titles, after coming out on top in a thrilling Grand Final on Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium #2.

Up 20-14 with three minutes to go, Manurewa then leaked a try under the sticks and the game looked destined for extra time, only for the conversion in front to ping off the crossbar.

With first-choice kicker Alice Vailea nursing a leg injury picked up late in the game, Richmond fullback Shannon Muru was called up to attempt the kick, with the effort not having the required power, effectively handing Manurewa another title.

The win was a deserving reward for Manurewa at the end of a brilliant 2018 season, which saw them go undefeated.The Rusty Matua-coached Marlins had raced out to a 10-0 lead early against Richmond, thanks to four-pointers from Krystal Rota and Kararaina Wira-Kohu.

A quick play-the-ball from TJ Noble-Bell laid the platform for Rota’s effort, before Wira-Kohu rushed from five metres out to find a hole and crash over.

Richmond hit back on the half hour through Vailea, but when Louisa Gago wrapped around for a try in the middle of the park, which Kere Matua converted, Manurewa had a 16-4 to take to the break.

In the second half, tries to Lorina Papali’i and Johreena Sekene, one of which was converted by Vailea, cut the gap to 16-14, with both tries coming off kicks, the first from Shontelle Woodman and the second a pinpoint grubber from Vailea.

But when Manurewa’s Christyl Stowers executed a left-side shift to score with 12 minutes left, Richmond’s dream of a comeback appeared over.

Following long stoppages in play for a couple of injuries, Annetta Nuuausala powered over from close range to score a try which should have forced extra time, with a couple of centimetres on the ensuing conversion denying the central Aucklanders a shot at a memorable victory.

Earlier in the day the Ponsonby Ponies ran out convincing 54-18 winners over Mt Wellington in the second-tier Grand Final, with backrower Mele Toki starring with three tries.

Manurewa 20 (Krystal Rota, Kararaina Wira-Kohu, Louisa Gago, Christyl Stowers tries; Kere Matua 2 goals) Richmond 18 (Alice Vailea, Lorina Papali’i, Johreena Sekene, Annetta Nuuausala tries; Alice Vailea goal). At Mt Smart Stadium #2.

The New Zealand Rugby League  was proud to see Kiwi Ferns captain Laura Mariu named among the Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients on Monday 4 June. Laura was awarded an MNZM (Member of the New
Zealand Order of Merit) for her service to rugby league.

Following a weekend of triple celebrations that saw Mariu captain the Counties Manukau Stingrays to their ninth successive national title, and earning herself a spot on the Kiwi Ferns wider squad for October’s triple-header in Auckland, being awarded an MNZM was the icing on top.

Laura Mariu has played in all five Women’s Rugby League World Cups (2000, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2017) and subsequently boasts three time world champion status. As the captain of the Kiwi Ferns, Laura has dedicated, 17 years of her life to the game of rugby league and is role model to all young women aspiring to reach the pinnacle of our game.

Despite announcing her retirement from World Cup rugby league, Laura couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play in October’s triple-header.

“After the World Cup I thought I’d hang up the boots on my Kiwi Ferns career but I just can’t stay away.

“While my body still allows me I’m keen to play in that Kiwi Ferns jersey if they’ll have me,” she said.

For most of her working life Laura found employment which suited her rugby league career. But after the 2017 World Cup she began training at the police academy. Laura graduated in early May and is now serving
in the Counties-Manukau district.

Following a blockbuster final at NZRL’s National Women’s Tournament, the Kiwi Ferns wider squad has been named ahead of preparations for the Kiwi Ferns, Kiwis and Junior Kiwis triple-header to be held in Auckland on 13 October.

The squad of 33 includes some fresh development prospects, products of the ever-growing women’s game, as well as many seasoned veterans carrying years of international experience.

Despite closing the curtain on World Cup rugby league, Laura Mariu has proven she’s still performing at the top level admitting the appeal of playing in October’s triple-header was too strong.

“After the World Cup I thought I’d hang up the boots on my Kiwi Ferns career but I just can’t stay away. While my body still allows me I’m keen to play in that Kiwi Ferns jersey if they’ll have me,” she said.

She also celebrates her naming on the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced today for her outstanding service to rugby league.

While there will be some additions to the squad as dispensations, injuries and overseas players in contention are considered, Kiwi Ferns Coach Kelvin Wright is excited to begin his journey with the squad that promises some “real raw talent”.

“The squad I’ll be working with in the lead-up to October’s triple-header is exactly what any coach can hope for, full of talent and rugby league smarts.

“With the right support I believe we can create something pretty special as a team,” he said.

“It’s great to see women from the regions putting their hand up and excited to work alongside the women to ensure we have the best team on the field in October,” he said.

Preparations for the Test against the Jillaroos in October will be further enhanced by the opportunity for players to compete in the new NRL Women’s Competition.

New Zealand Rugby League Talent Manager David McMeeken was singing his praises for the level of play demonstrated over the three day tournament.

“In wet, muddy conditions over two of the three days of play there was some exceptional football on display. The players and staff were a credit to all the regions represented and there was a great environment created around the venue from them all, despite the conditions.

“This squad provides Kelvin with plenty of experience and also some youth players who have showcased some unique ability throughout the tournament, who if exposed to a higher level of coaching and surrounded with the experience within the squad, we could potentially see some of those players at the next World Cup,” McMeeken said.

Kiwi Ferns wider squad:

AKARANA: Alice Vailea, Crystal Tamaru, Georgia Hale, Karley Te Kawa, Lara Diamond-Brahne, Ngatokotoru Arakua, Shontelle Woodman, Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, Lisa Edwards; CANTERBURY: Masuisuimatamaalii Tauasa Pauaraisa; COUNTIES: AieshaLeigh Smalley, Amber Kani, Apii Nicholls-Pualau, Hilda Peters, Kaylen Ikitule, Kerehitina Matua, Kimiora Nati, Krystal Rota, Langi Veainu, Laura Mariu, Lavinia Tauhalaiku, Louisa Gago, Onjeurlina Leiataua, Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Sarah Filimoeatu; AUCKLAND VULCANS: Ma’atuleio Fotu-Moala, Tanika Jazz Noble-Bell; WAI-COA-BAY: Honey Hireme, Kanyon Paul, Lakiila Gudgeon, Te Whetumarama Nuku; WELLINGTON: Acacia Te Iwimate.

National Women’s Tournament – two weeks out

In her first appearance since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, Putaruru born Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme will play for the Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions at the National Women’s Tournament.

Hireme is no stranger to the women’s rugby league scene. She burst onto the world stage of women’s rugby league when she played in her first World Cup for the Kiwi Ferns in 2003 coming away as Champions. In the Kiwi Ferns’ third successive World Cup win, Hireme graced the Ferns line-up in 2008 and again when she captained the team in 2013. In the same year she also took away World Cup Player of the Tournament, an award she was also named as a finalist for during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Her name was in headlines during last year’s Rugby League World Cup racking up an impressive 13 tries over the tournament.

In her first appearance since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, Putaruru born Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme will play for the Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions at the National Women's Tournament 🌟 🏉

Posted by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

NZRL are now open to receiving applications of interest for the roles of Head Coach for the New Zealand Resident 16s and the Kiwi Ferns.

Applications close for the NZ RESIDENT 16S MANAGER, ASSISTANT COACH and TRAINER roles at 5pm on Thursday 10 May 2018.

Successful shortlisted applicants must be available to interview on Thursday 17 May 2018

Applications close for the KIWI FERNS MANAGER, ASSISTANT COACH and TRAINER roles at 5pm on Thursday 17 May 2018.

Successful shortlisted applicants must be available to interview on Thursday 24 May 2018

To view job descriptions for all of these roles, please see the NZRL Careers page here.

If you are interested in the roles please send your covering letter and coaching CV to: [email protected] before the allocated time and date.

If you have any questions of queries please contact Gary Peacham: 021 274 6975 or email: [email protected]

By NZ Herald

Sporting royalty were included in a cohort of new police constables who graduated in Porirua over the weekend.

Kiwi Ferns Captain Laura Mariu and Kiwi Ferns player and winner of New Zealand Rugby League 2017 Player of the Year, Apii Nicholls-Pualau have both graduated from the black jersey to the blue uniform, along with 56 other constables from Wing 313 and two narcotic detector dogs.

“It is a huge honour to be a part of New Zealand Police and I have enjoyed my time here at College,” Nicholls-Pualau said.

“I believe the [Royal New Zealand Police College] definitely sets the platform for a better future and I can only hope my experiences will help me better engage with our community and set good examples.

“I can’t wait to make a difference and ultimately contribute to the ongoing success of making New Zealand the safest country.”

Mariu and Nicholls-Pualau will both be posted to Counties Manukau district and start on the beat on May 14.

Tomorrow’s graduation is also a milestone for the role the police has played in helping to build dog section capability in the Northern Territories and the Pacific, said national co-ordinator of police dogs Inspector Todd Southall.

“We have a key role in helping maintain training and development, as well as the supply of dogs to the island nations,” he said.

“It’s about helping protect our neighbours and protecting our borders.”

Senior Constable Dean McKie from the Northern Territory Police is graduating with detector dog Hugo, who was bred at the Dog Training Centre.

He will be attached to the Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk.

Sergeant Tyron Bellman from the Northern Territory Police is currently an operational handler and is the detection training sergeant for the entire Northern Territory Police.

Tomorrow he graduates as a detector dog instructor.

Constable Peter Pureau from the Cook Islands Police is graduating with detector dog Hoss, Hugo’s brother.

The Secretary of Defence and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Defence, Helene Quilter, Minister of Police Stuart Nash, MP for Mana Kris Faafoi and Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement will all be attending the graduation.

The NZRL National Women’s Tournament is back in 2018. Queen’s Birthday weekend, 2-4 June will see women’s teams from throughout New Zealand battle out in hopes of being crowned the NZRL Women’s National champions.

Last year, the Counties Manukau Stingrays took out their eighth successive title in a nail biter against Akarana and it was standout fullback, Apii Nicholls-Pualau who was awarded Best Back of the Tournament earning her a spot in the Kiwi Ferns 2017 Rugby League World Cup squad. After outstanding performances on the world stage, she unsurprisingly went on to take out 2017 NZRL Women’s PLayer of the Year.

Five weeks out from this year’s National Women’s Tournament, we look forward to seeing all the talent on display that 2018 has to offer.

We are just FIVE weeks out from the National Women's Tournament! Kiwi Fern Apii Nicholls-Pualau is one of many talented players to make their mark at the tournament

Posted by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Sunday, 29 April 2018

Last month, Kiwi Ferns Raquel Anderson and Shontelle Woodman toured schools in Waikato and Auckland spreading the word about education.

As Duffy Books amabassadors, the pair attended assemblies at Tainui Full Primary School, Pukemiro School, Waipa Primary School and Ngaruawahia Primary School giving the gift of learning and promoting the message that ‘It’s Cool to Read and Cool to Achieve’.

For Kiwi Fern Raquel Anderson, her school visit was extra special. Going back to Tainui Full Primary School to share her journey into the Kiwi Ferns jersey, the school she attended as a youngster, had her reminiscing on her days as an eager student.

“I absolutely loved going back to my old primary school it brought back all those feel good memories,” she said.

“There was one boy with autism and aspergers who I’d heard hated going to assembly last year. When I gave him his books he was smiling from ear to ear and even helped me hand out the books to other the kids. That was a precious moment and reminded me just how special it is for these schools to be involved with the Duffy Books in Homes programme.

“Having gratitude, getting a good education and giving back to the community are just as important to being a Kiwi Fern as taking to the field so putting these sort of things into practice are very rewarding for us players,” she added.

Duffy Books in Homes is a literacy programme aimed at breaking the cycle of booklessness in decile 1 – 4 primary and intermediate schools throughout New Zealand. There are 517 schools on the programme and over 100,000 children who get to choose five brand new books each per year as well as the opportunity to ‘earn’ extra books through the ‘Caught Being Good Awards’ incentive.

Former Kiwi Ferns captain and NZRL Wellbeing and Women’s Development Manager, Luisa Avaiki, has been named as head coach of the Warriors’ new NRL women’s team.

The Warriors were confirmed as one of four clubs in the new NRL women’s competition on Tuesday and appointed Avaiki on Wednesday.

Avaiki captained the Kiwi Ferns to victory in two of the first three women’s World Cup tournaments in 2003 and 2008 and was a part of the Kiwi Ferns team that won the inaugural World Cup. Her international career stretched from 1995-2009.

She has been prominent in coaching since her retirement from playing, and has worked for the Melbourne Storm as their games development officer. She has been the New Zealand Rugby League’s well-being and women’s development manager since 2016.

Avaiki, who has also represented Samoa in rugby league, rugby union and touch, said she was humbled when given the opportunity to become the club’s first NRL women’s coach. The Warriors believe she is the first woman to have a coaching position with an NRL club.

The competition, which will also involve the Sydney Roosters, St George-Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos, will start later this year.

“Women’s rugby league has a long history in New Zealand but the introduction of this competition has taken our game to a whole new level,” she said.

“It’s a huge honour having the chance to take up this role.”

Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith said the club was thrilled to appoint Avaiki.

“It was a huge day being named as one of the four foundation clubs yesterday and it’s even more exciting to be able to announce Luisa’s appointment today. We were keen to move on this quickly as we seek to build our team.

“The new competition is taking the club and the women’s game into a completely new era which we’re so proud to a part of.”

Warriors CEO Cameron George, head coach Stephen Kearney, Smith and Avaiki met prospective players for the women’s team at Mount Smart Stadium on Wednesday night.

“For us, our women’s team will be just like our other three sides in the NRL, the Intrust Super Premiership and the Jersey Flegg Cup,” said George.

“They’ll strive to attain the same values we have for the club’s other teams.

“We are all about winning, about having a crack every time we play and making our members and fans proud.”

Despite the Ferns crossing for two tries in the opening ten minutes, the Orchids were able to hold out an array of attacking raids to keep the score to just 8-0 at half-time.

Their efforts were to no avail, however, as the Ferns put together a clinical second half with Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala and Maitua Feterika inspiring the hard-fought win.

Luisa Gago gave New Zealand the early buffer as she zig-zagged her way through multiple Orchids defenders to sneak her way over the try-line.

It wasn’t long before they extended their lead after fullback Raecene McGregor crashed her way over for their second unanswered try.

Papua New Guinea showed their resilience with some committed goal-line defence holding out a third Ferns try, but their success didn’t resonate with the ball-in-hand with New Zealand holding them out at the opposing end.

Both teams were fighting valiantly in a third-hitting contest that saw some brutally absorbing tackles on either side of the ball, and New Zealand looked to have finally made a breakthrough with Maitua Feterika slicing through but eventually knocked the ball forward just metres out from the try line.

Just moments later, a scorching kick at the opposing end from PNG halfback Amelia Kuk ricocheted off the post and planted down by the scrambling Orchids attackers, but the video referee ruled there was a knock-on in the process of scoring.

As their only chance went begging, they were able to maintain the 8-point deficit at half-time despite conceding two tries in the opening ten minutes of play.

The Ferns began the first-half with some great lead-up play from McGregor and Georgia Hale as they broke the line to earn their side great field position, but the scrambling PNG defence was able to hold out the raid.

New Zealand thought they had grabbed their much-needed just a few tackles later after a classy backline movement saw Feterika crash over in the right-hand corner, but some desperate defence from Male Mar stripped the ball in the process of scoring.

Despite their gallant efforts, they couldn’t stop winger Hilda Peters scoring in the opposite corner after a swift right-to-left shift.

Ngatokotoru Arakua was unable to convert from the sideline as the Ferns held onto a handy 12-0 lead.

With a wave of momentum behind them, the Ferns were able to strike shortly after with centre Amber Kani crossing the line before Fetrika scored their fifth unanswered try in similar fashion just two minutes later.

Although conceding three tries within a relentless 15 minute period, PNG clawed their way back with Joan Kuman going close to scoring but was forced into touch by the gutsy Ferns defence.

Their defensive efforts were rewarded with a four-pointer at the opposite end after some barnstorming runs through the middle-third gave them valuable field position, before going through the hands to give Atawhai Tupaea open space and give them a 26-point lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Brimming with confidence, the Ferns weren’t afraid to throw the ball around and they found themselves scoring a contender for try of the tournament, with a series of offloads eventually leading to Racquel Anderson crossing for their seventh try of the tournament.

Anderson was unable to convert her own try as the Ferns ran away with a comfortable 30-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the contest.

Annetta Nuuausala and Amber Kani put the icing on the cake in the closing stages with tries of their own to finish off a 38-0 win.

Kiwi Ferns play England in their semi-final at 1.45pm AEDT on Sunday November 26- Southern Cross Stadium, Sydney

Andre Cupido | @AndreCupido10​
Rugby League World Cup 2017 Reporter‌‌

Kiwi Fern stand-off, Georgia Hale will captain her team for the first time in New Zealand’s third and final pool match of the Women’s Rugby League World Cup against PNG tomorrow at 6.30pm (AEDT).

While this is Hale’s first Rugby League World Cup, the PNG match-up will be her fifth international Test having played at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 ANZAC Tests.

Aieshaleigh Smalley also joins Hale as the starting prop for her first international Test in the black jersey. She credits the support of her Otahuhu Leopards team and family in Auckland for being able to represent her country in the sport she loves.

“I’m so grateful to be where I am today, I just cannot wait to run out on the field in front of my family and friends who have flown across to Sydney to support me,”

“My three-year-old son Kayson will also be there to cheer me on so I can’t wait to make him proud,” she says.

If the Kiwi Ferns win their game against PNG tomorrow, they will finish top of Pool B and will play their semi-final against the team ranked second in Pool A on Sunday November 26.

#Earnthefern
#TeIwiKiwi

Kiwi Ferns v PNG
November 22, 6.30pm (AEDT)
Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney

1 – Raecene McGregor
2 – Atawhai Tupaea
3 – Maitua Feterika
4 – Amber Kani
5 – Hilda Peters
6 – Georgia Hale (Captain)
7 – Racquel Anderson
8 – Aieshaleigh Smalley *
9 – Krystal Rota
10 – Kahurangi Peters
11 – Teuila Fotu-Moala
12 – Louisa Gago
13 – Sharlene Atai
14 – Nita Maynard
15 – Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala
16 – Bunty Kuruwaka-Crowe
19 – Lilieta Maumau

21 – Ngatokotoru Arakua
22 – Apii Nicholls-Pualau

*International debut