The New Zealand Rugby League mourns the passing of Richard Bolton, a player, coach, manager and administrator who left an indelible mark on on rugby league in New Zealand.

Born on June 4, 1943, Bolton carved out a strong career as a loose forward, representing Auckland and Mount Albert clubs. His playing highlight was undoubtedly his selection for the 1972 tour of Australia, where he earned his sole New Zealand Test cap as Kiwi #499. Despite missing out on World Cup selection that year, Bolton contributed significantly to Māori Rugby League. He represented them as a player in 1972 and later captained the side to victory in the inaugural Pacific Cup in 1986. He repeated this feat in 1988 and served as a trainer for the Māori team in 1990.

Bolton’s leadership extended beyond the playing field. He served on the NZMRL board and coached Waikato from 1987 to 88. His dedication to the sport’s development shone through his roles as manager of the Howie Tamati-coached Kiwis from 1992 to 93 and the 2005 Junior Kiwis. Notably, he was pivotal in establishing the National Secondary Schools competition while serving as the NZRL’s National Development Officer.

Bolton’s commitment to Auckland Rugby League as deputy chairman further cemented his legacy as a tireless administrator. In 2013, he was awarded an NZRL Life Membership, a fitting tribute to his lifelong service to the game.

The New Zealand Rugby League extends its deepest condolences to Richard Bolton’s family and friends. He will be remembered as a versatile player, a leader, and a passionate contributor who helped shape the sport not only on the field but also from the sidelines.

Richard Bolton, former New Zealand rugby league player and coach. 1995. Copyright photo: www.photosport.nz

Rugby league great Stacey Jones has today been appointed as New Zealand Kiwis head coach to the end of the 2026 Rugby League World Cup.

The much-decorated 47-year-old Jones moves into the role after serving as an assistant coach with the Kiwis since 2018 while he is now in his eighth season as an assistant coach with One New Zealand Warriors in NRL.

“We’re delighted to be appointing an absolute legend of the game to coach the Kiwis,” said NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“Stacey has served a lengthy apprenticeship with the Warriors and has also been with us as a long-term assistant coach with the Kiwis.

“It’s personally pleasing to see him rewarded with this appointment.

“Not only is he an outstanding individual with a deep knowledge and understanding of ‘The Kiwi Way’, he is a technically astute coach who understands what it takes to operate at the top international level.

“We are grateful to the Warriors for supporting his appointment and allowing him the time to do it.

“We are also excited about the opportunity this appointment provides to bring the game closer together in New Zealand by strengthening the connection with the Warriors.”

Following his glittering playing career, Jones transitioned quickly into coaching with a number of roles with the Warriors.

“This is a huge honour for me,” said Jones.

“It was a special privilege to play for my country and to now have the chance to coach the Kiwis is both exciting and humbling.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the Kiwis over the last few years and seeing the team develop under Madge (Michael Maguire). I’ve learnt so much being involved with such a special group of players.

“I’m hugely grateful to the Warriors for the coaching opportunities they’ve given me to put me in this position and for the way they supported me in my bid for this role wth the Kiwis while continuing to work at the club.”

During his playing career Jones played more than 350 games at the highest level.

He captained the Kiwis and played a total of 46 Tests while he amassed 261 NRL appearances for the Warriors and a further 45 games for Les Catalans Dragons in the Super League.

Awarded the ONZM for services to rugby league, he won the Golden Boot in 2002, was inducted into the NZRL Legends of League, included in the NZRL Team of the Century and has also been inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the NRL Hall of Fame.

 

 

STACEY JONES

 

Born: May 7, 1976

Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

Coaching Career:

New Zealand Kiwis assistant coach 2018-2023

One New Zealand Warriors NRL assistant coach 2017-2024

Māori All Stars head coach 2019

One New Zealand Warriors New South Wales Cup head coach 2015-2016

One New Zealand Warriors NYC head coach 2014

One New Zealand Warriors junior recruitment and pathways coach 2013

Auckland Rugby League football development officer 2012

Point Chevalier Pirates coach 2010-2011

One New Zealand Warriors NRL skills coach 2008

Playing Career:

International: 46 Tests for Kiwis 1995-2006

NRL: 261 appearances for One New Zealand Warriors 1995-2005 & 2009

Super League: 45 appearances for Les Catalans 2006-2007

16 August 2023

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets

Tamaki Makaurau Auckland’s Eden Park will host a blockbuster rugby league triple-header between New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga on Saturday, October 21st, as part of the newly announced Pacific Championships in partnership with the NRL.

The Kiwis will face Samoa, igniting a new Pacific rivalry hot off last year’s World Cup momentum; the Kiwi Ferns will line up against Tonga, and an NZ Kiwi A team will assemble for the first time in 17 years.

Thanks to the current depth of the New Zealand talent pool, the NZ Kiwis A team will consist of current and future Kiwi-committed NRL stars who will take on a Tonga A team as the opening match of the rugby league triple-header.

“How special to bring the best players in the world back home to play in front of their communities. Without the support from Tātaki Auckland Unlimited this series wouldn’t have happened,” says NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

“We’re excited to work with Samoa to bring their rugby league heroes back home and unite fans across New Zealand and the Pacific.

“No other code can produce such a celebration of culture and passion; the atmosphere will be unmissable.”

The 2023 Pacific Championships is a two-tiered competition with six men’s teams and seven women’s teams taking part in the tournament across two pools.

Waikato’s FMG Stadium will host the Pacific Cup grand final on November 4th.

“I firmly believe the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland triple-header and Waikato final will be the biggest international rugby league events on home soil since the 2017 World Cup,” adds NZRL CEO Greg Peters.

Hamilton City Council’s General Manager of Venues, Tourism and Major Events, Sean Murray says, “We’re working hard to deliver an exceptional Pacific Championship Final at FMG Stadium Waikato. The team looks forward to passionate fans and the exposure this game will bring to our city and region.”

 

Full schedule below:

Week One – October 14-15

  • Australia v Samoa (men) and Australia v New Zealand (women) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
  • PNG v Cook Islands (men) and Samoa v Fiji (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Two – October 21-22

  • New Zealand v Samoa (men), New Zealand v Tonga (women), and NZ Kiwis A v Tonga A (men) at Eden Park, Auckland
  • Fiji v Cook Islands (men) and PNG v Cook Islands (women) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Three – October 28-29

  • Australia v New Zealand (men and women) at AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • PNG v Fiji (men) at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

Week Four – November 4-5

  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Cup tournament on November 4 in Hamilton, New Zealand
  • The Final of the men’s Pacific Bowl tournament on November 5 at Santos Stadium, Port Moresby

The Pacific Championships will be staged in 2023 and 2024, after the NRL and NRLW Premiership seasons, and will include men’s and women’s teams from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands.

Tickets for the rugby league triple-header at Eden Park are on sale now | https://bit.ly/BuyRLTickets

 

24th May 2023

Hull KR today confirmed Club Captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall will retire at the end of the 2023 season after a memorable 17-year professional career to take up an exciting role as part of the club’s coaching team from 2024.

Having recently surpassed his 350th career game in the NRL and Super League, Shaun has had an illustrious career in both hemispheres. Kenny-Dowall made his NRL debut for the Sydney Roosters on March 19th against South Sydney Rabbitohs, starting on the wing.

The New Zealand native made 277 NRL appearances for the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights, helping the Roosters secure the 2013 NRL Grand Final in a dramatic win over the Manly Sea-Eagles, with Kenny-Dowall scoring a vital try in the 60th minute.

A proud Kiwi, the 35-year-old was part of New Zealand’s 2010 and 2014 Four Nations victories, both over Australia. In total, the former Ngaruawahia Panther received 17 caps for the New Zealand national team, scoring nine tries for the side.

Shaun joined Hull KR ahead of the 2020 season, making 74 appearances so far in Red and White and helping the Robins’ during a period of exciting progress on and off the field.

In 2021, SKD become the club’s Captain following in the footsteps of Roger Millward, Mike Smith, Michael Dobson and Mose Masoe. At the end of the 2023 season, Shaun will begin his new role as a Development Coach for 2024, working within the first team coaching structure while mentoring the club’s young talent from the Academy up to the Robins’ first team.

Speaking on his retirement and new role for 2024, Shaun spoke of his gratitude to the sport while outlining his excitement for his new coaching role with the club in 2024: ‘I’ve made the decision to retire at the end of the 2023 season and call time on my 17-year career as a professional rugby player.

‘This sport has given me everything and I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me on this journey. I’ll reflect on it all at the end of the season.

‘Until then though, it’s all to play for. I’ll continue to love every moment I have left on the field as a Robin.

‘For 2024, I’m honoured to be taking on a new exciting challenge here at Hull KR, mentoring the club’s future stars from the Academy up to the First Team.

‘I’m incredibly grateful to be staying with this great club for 2024. I’d like to say a special thank you to the club’s board and Willie Peters for the opportunity and the faith they’ve shown in me for my new exciting role.

‘But for now, I want to finish my final season on a high and win silverware with this great club.

‘Keep your amazing support coming, Red Army. See you on the other side.

SKD.’

Hull KR Head Coach. Willie Peters said: ‘Shaun is a leader of men. He leads through his actions every day at training and every time he takes the field.

‘I value my relationship with Shaun greatly and he’s been a great help since I joined the club last year. I’m excited to work side by side with Shaun as part of the club’s coaching team next season.

‘We are delighted Shaun has accepted a very important position as Development Coach at Hull KR next season.

‘Shaun will play an integral part in our vertical alignment throughout the whole club. Shaun will help the club to develop quality, homegrown juniors ready for Super League alongside our Academy staff.

‘Special thank you to our Board for approving this important role within the club.

‘Before he starts, Shaun has a lot more to achieve on the field as he’s motivated to end his outstanding playing career on a high.’

Hull KR Chief Executive, Paul Lakin added: ‘Shaun is an outstanding leader, a motivator and a shining example to players at all levels of how you get the very most out of your career.

‘He has been pivotal to the culture we have set here at Hull KR and we, as a board, are delighted that Shaun is staying within the club, sharing his vast experience in a vitally important development coaching role working across the Academy, Reserves and First Team.’

20 April 2023

Mainstream has extended its commitment to New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) for a further four years as Principal Sponsor of the Kiwi Ferns & Referees and Official Associate Sponsor of the Kiwis.

The extended partnership will see Mainstream continue its tenure with NZRL through to the 2025 World Cup after joining the rugby league whānau in 2017.

Throughout the partnership, Mainstream remained an invaluable supporter of the game at all levels, staying loyal to NZRL through the Covid-19 pandemic when there was zero international rugby league activity for nearly two years.

Mainstream continues to show integral support for the women’s game and has been avid supporters of the Kiwi Ferns since the partnership’s inception.

NZRL CEO Greg Peters says Mainstream is an integral member of the NZRL whānau.

“It’s an exciting milestone to extend our partnership with Mainstream through to a third Rugby League World Cup,” says Peters.

“Mainstream has shown invaluable support through some of our most challenging times, and their support of the women’s game has been felt widespread among our Ferns group.

“I know we are all delighted to continue this partnership, and I look forward to what we’ll be able to achieve over the next three years as we enter one of the most exciting eras in international rugby league.”

Managing Director of Mainstream Greg Haliday says, “Mainstream is looking forward to building on the great relationship we have enjoyed over the last few years with the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns. You can be sure that our own team will be closely supporting the men’s and women’s teams right through to the excitement of the 2025 World Cup”.

Cameron Murray’s second-half try carried Australia into the World Cup final at New Zealand’s expense as the Kangaroos edged a breathless encounter 16-14 at Elland Road.

The Kiwis led 14-10 at the break through scores from Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown but Murray found a gap on 55 minutes to settle a contest which lived up to the pre-match hype and swung both ways throughout.

New Zealand saw two Peta Hiku tries disallowed in the second half as Australia, for whom Josh Addo-Carr and Valentine Holmes also crossed, continued their record of not missing a men’s World Cup final since 1954.

Much of the pre-match discussion had centred around the full-back battle between James Tedesco and Joey Manu and it was the latter who had the first key involvement as the Kiwis drew first blood on 11 minutes.

Manu rose highest to claim Brown’s perfectly judged kick and his offload gave Hughes a simple finish for a score converted by Jordan Rapana.

Rapana was soon in defensive action, delivering a heavy hit on Addo-Carr, but it left no lasting impact on the flying wing as Australia quickly levelled matters.

Ben Hunt sent the ball skywards from 40 metres out and it landed on a sixpence for the jet-heeled Addo-Carr to dot down on the left for his 12th try of the tournament, equalling teammate Holmes’ 2017 record for the most tries scored in a men’s World Cup.

Rapana’s boot edged New Zealand 8-6 in front, Cam Munster penalised for offside when Tedesco spilled Hughes’ grubber kick into him, but the Kangaroos again bounced back quickly.

This time it was Holmes who applied the finishing touch following an incisive run by Jack Wighton, who sold Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad a dummy and offloaded to the Cowboys wing for a try which survived a check by the video referee.

Cleary’s conversion attempt slid across the face of the posts and a pulsating first half had time for one more twist as the Kiwis struck again.

Ronaldo Mulitalo was released down the left and once he had evaded Wighton’s despairing dive, he had time to assess his options and release inside for Brown to run in unopposed.

Rapana’s kick gave Michael Maguire’s side a 14-10 lead at the interval and they thought they had extended it further five minutes into the second half when Hiku crossed following fine work by Moses Leota.

But the try was disallowed for offside, Rapana having been in front of the kicker when boot was put to ball, and the Kangaroos swiftly made the most of their reprieve when awarded a penalty five metres out.

A simple two points were on offer but Australia had bigger plans and when the ball was popped to Murray, he caught the Kiwi defence napping to power under the posts.

There was no let-up in the physicality as the game approached the hour mark, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui crunching into Manu to force a knock-on before Cazoo Player of the Match Liam Martin’s brutal hit on Nelson Asofa-Solomona led to a spot of handbags as the on-field temperate continued to rise.

Harry Grant’s dart was held up by last-ditch Kiwi defending as the Kangaroos interchange looked to inject a spark but New Zealand, who had spent much of the second half defending, soon upped the ante in search of a dramatic late winner.

They were inches away from finding one courtesy of Hiku, who was again denied after he ran out of space, grounding Hughes’ grubber on the touchline.

That proved the last of the Kiwis’ chances as Australia held on to seal a ninth win in their last 10 World Cup matches against New Zealand and book their place at Old Trafford next weekend.

3 November 2022

The Kiwis enter the Rugby League World Cup finals this weekend, and what better way to watch the boys than to head down to your local rugby league club and watch as a community! The quarter-final features the Kiwis going up against a robust Fiji Bati side this Sunday, whilst our Kiwi Ferns take on a tough Jillaroo’s side hot off their 46-0 victory over France.

Both games will be streamed at Mt Albert and Mangere East, with the opportunity to send some messages of support to the players and send some questions for your favourite players to answer! Both clubs will provide a menu for both breakfast and coffee.

We encourage everyone to come and support our men and women representing Aotearoa!

Upcoming Watch Parties:

QUARTER FINAL: Kiwis vs Fiji – 6th November 8:30 am (Doors open at 8 am)

  • Mt Albert Lions – Rocky Nook Ave, Mt Albert
  • Mangere East Hawks – 10 Hain Ave, Mangere East

Kiwi Ferns vs Jillaroos – 11th November 8:30 am (Doors open at 8 am)

  • Mt Albert Lions – Rocky Nook Ave, Mt Albert
  • Mangere East Hawks – 10 Hain Ave, Mangere East

 

Named the Dally M Second-Rower of the year in 2002, he was a key figure in the Warriors’ maiden Grand Final run that year and in total played 115 games for the club before departing for the UK Super League.

By the end of his career, Lauiti’iti had played for the Warriors, Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity at club level, along with representing both New Zealand and Toa Samoa at Test level.

NRL.com sat down with the 43-year-old to discuss his dream team of players he lined up with and against across an 18-season career.

Ali Lauiti’iti’s dream 17

1. Brent Webb

“I played with him at both the Warriors and Leeds and he was an exciting player. Great on the ball but kept busy off it too. His speed and evasion allowed him to create things others couldn’t. A naturally gifted player.”

2. Francis Meli

“He had a lot of confidence and was so physical. He loved to assert his physicality on other teams – basically he loved hitting guys – and as people saw could do some damage. Francis was a strong runner too who could score some tries.”

3. Clinton Toopi

“Explosive and super aggressive. Another one who could put on a shot. He loved to create tries and played with confidence. He was a guy who wanted the ball in his hands and his confidence helped the Warriors in the early 2000s. His enthusiasm was contagious.”

4. Nigel Vagana

“He knew where the try-line was and was so smooth in his movements. He was light on his feet but powerful enough to break through tackles and use evasion to glide through people. He was an older brother to all of us in the Samoan team at the back end of the career.”

Nigel Vagana's five star night

5. Lesley Vainikolo

“The rugby league version of Jonah Lomu. So much power and the fastest guy around when he was coming through the grades. He had raw speed and strength and could create a try from anything. He was a sprint champion as a kid with hardly any training, which is freaky.”

6. Rob Burrow

“He did some exciting things on the field and was one of those players who is rare to come across. Three foot tall and the heart of a giant. He was a player to remember.”

7. Stacey Jones

Grand final tries you should remember: The little general

“Stacey led through his actions and the things he could do were out of this world. Not only a player I loved playing with, but he was a guy I watched on TV as a kid. He was right up there with the greatest halves around in my era and was a Kiwi guy Australians would always talk about, and he was respected around the world.”

 8. Joe Vagana

“Smokin’ Joe. Just all power and strength in attack. Knew his role and where to position himself and did it every time. He was a big, big guy and someone I played against a lot when he was at Bradford Bulls, which was never fun when it came to tackling.”

9. PJ Marsh

“Had a big heart and was brave enough to tackle anything that came at him. In attack his speed off the mark at dummy-half was huge and he was creative and sneaky with the ball. He gets into my team ahead of another legend I played with, Danny Buderus, which is saying something.”

PJ Marsh played 35 games for the Warriors across 2002-03. ©NRL Photos

10. Jerry Seuseu

“Tough and never, ever took a backwards step. Jerry loved the hard stuff but could also produce a pass when needed. He was crucial in making the Warriors’ pack so intimidating in the early 2000s, he was our leader out there and led from the front.”

11. Ruben Wiki

“You’d take a carry after Ruben and he’d already taken out half the opposition pack. Off the field what he brought to the team was unmatched. He was one of the greatest leaders I ever played with.”

Wiki takes to the stage

12. Logan Swann

“Logan was a workhorse, he led by example and would do anything for the team. He was super underrated and one of those guys who did all the hard stuff for others.”

13. Kevin Sinfield

“A great leader. A creative player who had the skill of a half, but the body and work ethic to play in the middle or on the edge. Such a versatile player, he was good enough to have been a star in the NRL too.”

14. David Solomona

“Probably the most skillful forward I played with. Some of the things I saw him do were extraordinary. You had to always expect the unexpected with him and he was the king of the offload. He could have five defenders on him and still offload.”

David Solomon (left) and Ali Lauititi won the 2005 Tri-Nations together with the Kiwis, beating Australia 24-0 in the final. ©NRL Photos
David Solomon (left) and Ali Lauititi won the 2005 Tri-Nations together with the Kiwis, beating Australia 24-0 in the final. ©NRL Photos

15. Kylie Leuluai

“Tough and one of the biggest hitters I played with. He always wanted to get amongst the rough stuff and could be relied on. Off the field he became a great friend.”

16. Motu Tony

“He’s one of the bosses where I work at the New Zealand Rugby League, but he’s not my boss, so he’s here on merit! He was so versatile. Played hooker for New Zealand, played a NRL Grand Final at five-eighth, could play wing, centre, fullback. Only Craig Wing could be close to him in that regard. Explosive and creative too.

17. Shontayne Hape

Skillful and strong in the centres, but able to play in the pack too. He started out as a second-rower in his early days and played as a middle forward for the Kiwis. His talent was unreal and he went on to play rugby union for England too. He could have been a great Warrior if he didn’t get injured early on in his career.

28th October 2022

With the Kiwis World Cup campaign gaining momentum and the Kiwi Ferns about to get underway, it is time to support our whānau in England together. NZRL will host ‘Watch Parties’ at certain Auckland clubs to provide an avenue for fans to watch and support our teams as one.

Mangere East Hawks and Mt Albert Lions have opened their clubs to host the watch parties. This Saturday, October 29th, both clubs will host the Kiwis vs Ireland fixture, which will kick off at 7:30 am. Both clubs will provide a menu for both breakfast and coffee.

We encourage everyone to come and support our men and women representing Aotearoa!

 

Confirmed Watch Parties:

Kiwis vs Ireland – 29th October 7:30 am (Doors open at 7 am)

  • Mt Albert Lions – Rocky Nook Ave, Mt Albert
  • Mangere East Hawks – 10 Hain Ave, Mangere East

Kiwi Ferns vs France – 3rd November 6:30 am (Doors open at 6 am)

  • Mt Albert Lions – Rocky Nook Ave, Mt Albert
  • Mangere East Hawks – 10 Hain Ave, Mangere East

Kiwi Ferns vs Jillaroos – 11th November 8:30 am (Doors open at 8 am)

  • Mt Albert Lions – Rocky Nook Ave, Mt Albert
  • Mangere East Hawks – 10 Hain Ave, Mangere East

 

Finals rounds to be confirmed*

As seen on nrl.com by Corey Rosser 

Watching Jared Waerea-Hargreaves toe the fine line between on-field intimidator and flat out rule breaker can be a whirlwind adventure for any rugby league fan.

Now imagine what it must be like for the 33-year-old father of three to try and explain it to his kids when he gets home.

“My oldest is seven now and she loves watching daddy play for the Roosters. Sometimes the line gets pushed and I may have an altercation on the field and my daughter does see,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.

“I get home and explain that daddy got in trouble on the field last night. She asks ‘why did you get in trouble?’ and I say ‘sometimes daddy has to push a boundary that is sometimes a little bit too far’ and you can see her little mind thinking.”

The most recent of those conversions likely took place last month, when a head slam on Rabbitohs prop on Tom Burgess in a fiery Qualifying Final clash which the Roosters lost, saw Waerea-Hargreaves cop a three-game ban.

At the point of learning about that charge, ‘JWH’ assumed it had killed off any hope he had of making coach Michael Maguire’s New Zealand squad for the World Cup.

“When I woke up after having a few beers after the last Roosters game, I woke up to my wife saying that I’d been suspended for three games,” Waerea-Hargreaves said.

“Firstly I thought that I wasn’t going [to the World Cup]. I sat there for about half an hour thinking ‘there’s no way Madge [Maguire] is going to select me now that I’m not going to be playing for a month.’”

But with Maguire still seeing the veteran as a key part of the Kiwis’ campaign, a grateful Waerea-Hargreaves is now in line to make his return to the Test arena for the first time since 2019 when New Zealand play Ireland on Saturday morning (AEDT).

After playing 20 NRL games this year the Rotorua-born prop admitted the opening month of camp with the Kiwis has been a frustrating experience, as he trained on knowing he wasn’t in the frame for selection.

“You come away and all you want to do is play… I have got to be honest with you, it’s quite frustrating, you come away in a 24-man squad and you do fitness most days and go and do extra work away [from the group], knowing it’s going to benefit yourself and the team, but there’s no real light at the end of the tunnel other than three, four weeks away,” he said.

“I trained with the team [this week], other than just running the ball up 20 times and getting bashed and just being that guy. It was really exciting to be back and knowing that I’m playing on Friday.

“I just need to get out there this Friday and play as long and as hard as I can. Hopefully that leads me into selections the following week.”

Waerea-Hargreaves faces an uphill battle to force his way into the 17 beyond group play, with New Zealand possessing impressive depth in the front row.

With Joseph Tapine likely to play lock, Premiership-winning Panther James Fisher-Harris and captain Jesse Bromwich are the first-choice starters, with Nelson Asofa-Solomona also sure to be part of the squad, likely leaving JWH to fight it with Penrith duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen for a spot on the bench.

Bromwich said Waerea-Hargreaves’ style will fit in nicely with the current group of Kiwis big boppers.

“He brings a lot to the team both on and off the field.  I look forward to seeing him rip and tear this week,” Bromwich said.

“We all know he is a really aggressive sort of player and plays with a lot of intent, and I think it’s going to suit this team really nicely.”

22 October 2022

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak equaled the record for most tries in a single World Cup match by a Kiwi, crossing four times in New Zealand’s 68-6 victory over Jamaica in Hull.

The veteran Warriors winger scored four tries – with the first three coming inside the opening 20 minutes of the match – and set up another two with clever kicks back in field, before leaving the field with cramp in the 62nd minute.

The haul equaled Manu Vatuvei’s effort against England at the 2008 edition of the tournament.

While they were outclassed on the day by the world No.1 Kiwis, Jamaica excited with an adventurous style of play and scored their first ever World Cup try through national team stalwart Ben Jones-Bishop.

New Zealand scored seven first-half tries, but led by the relatively modest margin of 34-0 at the break due to Kieran Foran converting only three attempts, as the veteran half struggled with the responsibility handed to him with Jordan Rapana (not selected) and Dylan Brown (illness) out of the squad.

Of main concern for the Kiwis will be prop Moses Leota (leg) and utility Marata Niukore (chest) failing to play the second half.

Match Snapshot

  • New Zealand are through to the quarter-finals.
  • Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s four-try showing equaled the most tries in a World Cup game by a New Zealander.
  • The Reggae Warriors scored their first ever World Cup try through veteran back Ben Jones-Bishop, garnering a huge cheer from the crowd in attendance in Hull.
  • Jones Bishop was playing in his 300th first-class match and both sides formed a guard of honour for him as he left the field.
  • Prop Moses Leota (leg) and utility Marata Niukore (chest) didn’t take part in the second half.
  • The first three tries came down the right side for the Kiwis, with Watene-Zelezniak, in his first Test since 2019, crossing for three and Peta Hiku the other to get New Zealand to an 18-0 lead.
  • Niukore palmed through the defence for the Kiwis’ fifth, before Sebastian Kris scored the first try of his Test career.
  • Watene-Zelezniak turned provider just before the break, kicking back in field for Jeremy Marshall-King to score.
  • Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad opened the second-half scoring, followed by four-pointers from Briton Nikora and a second for Marshall-King.
  • Watene-Zelezniak hobbled over for his fourth, before leaving the field with cramp.
  • Roosters-bound hooker Brandon Smith scored back-to-back tries in the final 15 minutes, before Bishop-Jones marked one of the best moments of the tournament when he scored for Jamaica.

“I am real pleased how the players went about what they did. From our last game to this one I thought our cohesion was better, but we also know we can get better again.” – New Zealand coach Michael Maguire.

What’s Next

Ahead of the quarter-finals the Kiwis take on Ireland in Leeds, while Jamaica conclude their maiden World Cup campaign against Lebanon.

21 October as seen on nrl.com

Panthers forward Scott Sorensen will become the fifth member of his family to play for the Kiwis when he and Raiders back Sebastian Kris make their Test debuts against World Cup newcomer Jamaica.

Penrith team-mate James Fisher-Harris will also captain the Kiwis for the first time in place of skipper Jesse Bromwich.

Sorensen, a try scorer in Penrith’s grand final defeat of Parramatta, has been brought onto the bench for the match in Hull against the Reggae Warriors, who are at the World Cup for the first time.

The 29-year-old’s selection comes more than 70 years after his late grandfather Bill Sorensen began his New Zealand career.

Bill went on to play 24 Tests from 1951-1960, while his brother Dave, who is Scott’s great uncle, represented New Zealand in 1971-1972.

Scott’s uncles Dane and Kurt Sorensen left an indelible mark on the rugby league landscape, playing 45 Tests between them for the Kiwis in the course of their outstanding professional careers spanning the 1970, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Dane finished his NRL career with 229 appearances for Cronulla-Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs including a then-club record 216 for the Sharks.

Kurt made almost 130 NRL appearances for the Sharks and more than 250 for Widnes, ending his career with the club with a try in the 1993 Challenge Cup grand final loss to Wigan.

Kris also caps a remarkable story of his own by earning his first Test jersey after he stepped aside from the NRL in 2020 before reviving his career in 2021.

He scored a first half hat-trick in his first appearance in the Kiwi jersey in the 74-0 match against Leeds on October 8.

The 24-year-old forms a new combination on the flanks with Warriors winger and former Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who is returning to the side for his 13th Test after last appearing in the home Test win over Mate M’a Tonga in 2019.

They come in for Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana who both played in the opening 34-12 win over the Lebanon Cedars in Warrington last Sunday.

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire has also made other changes, with Marata Niukore replacing 2023 Warriors team-mate Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the centres and Moses Leota to start alongside Penrith front-row partner James Fisher-Harris.

Leota was named for the match against Lebanon but was ruled out after picking up a minor groin injury in the team’s final field session.

He comes into the side for captain Jesse Bromwich, with Fisher-Harris chosen to lead the Kiwis on Saturday.

There’s a swap in the second row which sees Cronulla-Sutherland’s Briton Nikora moved from his bench role against Lebanon to start against Jamaica, while Wests Tigers-bound Isaiah Papali’i is switched to the interchange.

Also out of the side this week is Canberra forward Joseph Tapine, with Gold Coast’s Isaac Liu recalled for his ninth Test.

New Zealand squad:

1 Joseph Manu, 24 Sebastian Kris, 3 Marata Niukore, 4 Peta Hiku, 19 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak; 6 Dylan Brown, 14 Kieran Foran; 15 Moses Leota, 9 Brandon Smith, 10 James Fisher-Harris (C), 12 Kenny Bromwich, 17 Briton Nikora, 20 Isaac Liu, 11; Isaiah Papali’I, 16 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 22 Jeremy Marshall-King, 23 Scott Sorensen; 21 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 8 Jesse Bromwich

York, England, October 20, 2022 – Two-time NRL premiership winner Scott Sorensen and Canberra Raiders outside back Sebastian Kris will make their Test debuts in the New Zealand Kiwis’ second Rugby League World Cup match against newcomer Jamaica at Hull’s MKM Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Sunday NZT).

The 29-year-old Sorensen will become the fifth member of the remarkable Sorensen family to represent the Kiwis at Test level.

And Kris (24) caps a remarkable story of his own by earning his first Test jersey after he stepped aside from the NRL in 2020 before reviving his career in 2021. He scored a first half hat-trick in his first appearance in the Kiwi jersey in the 74-0 match against Leeds on October 8.

Sorensen, a try scorer in Penrith’s second straight premiership win, has been brought onto the bench for the Kiwis’ second Pool C match against Jamaica’s Reggae Warriors, who are at the Rugby League World Cup for the first time.

Kris forms a new combination on the flanks with Vodafone Warriors winger and former Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak returning to the side for his 13th Test after last appearing in the home Test win over Mate M’a Tonga in 2019. They come in for Ronaldo Mulitalo and Jordan Rapana who both played in the opening 34-12 win over the Lebanon Cedars in Warrington last Sunday.

Head coach Michael Maguire has also made some other changes.

Parramatta’s Warriors-bound Marata Niukore has been named at left centre replacing ex-Raider Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and another of Penrith’s grand final winners Moses Leota will start in the front row with his clubmate James Fisher-Harris. Leota was named for the match against Lebanon but was ruled out after picking up a minor groin injury in the team’s final field session. He comes into the side for captain Jesse Bromwich with Fisher-Harris chosen to lead the Kiwis on Saturday.

There’s a swap in the second row which sees Cronulla-Sutherland’s Briton Nikora moved from his bench role against Lebanon to start against Jamaica while Parramatta’s Wests Tigers-bound Isaiah Papali’i is switched to the interchange.

Also out of the side this week is Canberra loose forward Joseph Tapine with Gold Coast’s Isaac Liu recalled for his ninth Test.

Sorensen’s selection comes more than 70 years after his late grandfather Bill Sorensen (Kiwi #338) began his New Zealand career. He went on to play 24 Tests from 1951-1960.

His brother Dave (Kiwi #494), Scott’s great uncle, represented New Zealand in 1971-1972 before brothers Dane and Kurt Sorensen – Scott’s uncles – left an indelible mark on the rugby league landscape.

Between them Dane (#520) and Kurt (#524) played 45 Tests for New Zealand in the course of their outstanding professional careers spanning the 1970, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Dane finished his NRL career with 229 appearances for Cronulla-Sutherland and Eastern Suburbs including a then-club record 216 for the Sharks. Kurt made almost 130 NRL appearances for the Sharks and more than 250 for Widnes, ending his career with the club with a try in the 1993 Challenge Cup grand final loss to Wigan.

 

 

 

NZ KIWIS v JAMAICA

 

MKM Stadium, Hull

7.30pm, Saturday, October 22

7:30am, Sunday, October 23 NZT – Live on Spark Sport

 

POSITION SQUAD NO. PLAYERS NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
Fullback 1 Joseph MANU # 815
Wing 24 Sebastian KRIS # 828
Centre 3 Marata NIUKORE # 820
Centre 4 Peta HIKU # 781
Wing 19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
Five Eighth 6 Dylan BROWN # 826
Halfback 14 Kieran FORAN # 757
Prop 15 Moses LEOTA # 827
Hooker 9 Brandon SMITH # 816
Prop 10 James FISHER-HARRIS (c) # 801
Second Row 12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
Second Row 17 Briton NIKORA # 818
Loose Forward 20 Isaac LIU # 805
Interchange 11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
Interchange 16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
Interchange 22 Jeremy MARSHALL-KING # 830
Interchange 23 Scott SORENSEN
18th Man 21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD 820
19th Man 8 Jesse BROMWICH 775

Warrington, England, October 16, 2022 – Front rower Moses Leota has been ruled out of the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup opener against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington today (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Monday NZT).

Penrith’s NRL grand final-winning prop has been withdrawn from the line-up after picking up a minor groin injury in yesterday’s final field session.

Parramatta’s Marata Niukore replaces Leota on the interchange with Panthers forward Scott Sorensen taking Niukore’s place as 19th man.

Niukore will be playing his second Test for the Kiwis after making his New Zealand debut in the June international against Mate Ma’a Tonga.

Leota will be available for the Kiwis’ second match against Jamaica next Saturday.

 

NZ KIWIS v LEBANON

 

Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Sunday 16 October 2022 7:30pm

Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT

 

SQUAD NO PLAYER’S NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 Joseph MANU # 815
2 Ronaldo MULITALO # 824
21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
4 Peta HIKU # 781
5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
6 Dylan BROWN # 826
14 Kieran FORAN # 757
8 Jesse BROMWICH (c) # 775
9 Brandon SMITH # 816
10 James FISHER-HARRIS # 801
11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
13 Joseph TAPINE # 800
3 Marata NIUKORE #825
16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
17 Briton NIKORA # 818
22 Jeremy MARSHALL-KING #830
19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
23 Scott SORENSEN

Warrington, England, October 15, 2022 – Hooker Jeremy-Marshall has been called up to make his Test debut after halfback Jahrome Hughes was today ruled out of the New Zealand Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup opener against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington on Sunday (7.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30am Monday NZT).

The 28-year-old Hughes was ruled out after picking up a slight thigh strain in the Kiwis’ field session at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate near York on Thursday.

In his absence, the 26-year-old Marshall-King comes onto the interchange with veteran Kieran Foran (32) replacing Hughes at halfback for his 23rd Test.

Marshall-King, Kiwi great Benji Marshall’s younger brother, became Kiwi #830 when he wore the New Zealand jersey for the first time – and scored a try – in last week’s 74-0 warm-up win against Leeds.

Maguire said Hughes would be available for the Kiwis’ second Pool C match against the Jamaicans in Hull next Saturday.

 

NZ KIWIS v LEBANON

 

Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Sunday 16 October 2022

Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT – Live on Spark Sport

 

SQUAD NO PLAYER’S NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 Joseph MANU # 815
2 Ronaldo MULITALO # 824
21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
4 Peta HIKU # 781
5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
6 Dylan BROWN # 826
14 Kieran FORAN # 757
8 Jesse BROMWICH (c) # 775
9 Brandon SMITH # 816
10 James FISHER-HARRIS # 801
11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
13 Joseph TAPINE # 800
15 Moses LEOTA # 827
16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
17 Briton NIKORA # 818
22 Jeremy MARSHALL-KING #830
19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
3 Marata NIUKORE # 825

York, New Zealand, October 14, 2022 – New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire has made only one change to the side used against Mate Ma’a Tonga in June for Sunday’s opening Pool C Rugby League World Cup match against Lebanon at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium (7.30pm kick-off local time).

Returning in the centres is Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who was used there in the 2019 Tests against Australia and Great Britain but missed the midseason clash against the Tongans.

Maguire’s 17-man line-up includes four players who featured in the NRL grand final with Penrith front rower James Fisher-Harris starting and fellow prop Moses Leota on the bench. Parramatta’s Dylan Brown is again at standoff and Isaiah Papali’i in the second row while Marata Niukore, who made his New Zealand debut in the centres against Tonga, is in the extended 19-man squad.

 

NZ KIWIS v LEBANON

Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Sunday 16 October 2022 7:30pm (Local) 

Monday 17 October 2022 7:30am NZT – Live on Spark Sport

 

SQUAD NO PLAYER’S NAME HERITAGE NUMBER
1 Joseph MANU # 815
2 Ronaldo MULITALO # 824
21 Charnze NICOLL-KLOKSTAD # 820
4 Peta HIKU # 781
5 Jordan RAPANA # 798
6 Dylan BROWN # 826
7 Jahrome HUGHES # 819
8 Jesse BROMWICH (c) # 775
9 Brandon SMITH # 816
10 James FISHER-HARRIS # 801
11 Isaiah PAPALI’I # 817
12 Kenny BROMWICH # 796
13 Joseph TAPINE # 800
14 Kieran FORAN # 757
15 Moses LEOTA # 827
16 Nelson ASOFA-SOLOMONA # 804
17 Briton NIKORA # 818
19 Dallin WATENE-ZELEZNIAK # 794
3 Marata NIUKORE # 825

New Zealand head to the World Cup later this month as international rugby league’s top-ranked side, but coach Michael Maguire says history at the tournament means the Kangaroos still deserve to be favourites.

Having won their last three Tests, most recently against Tonga in June, the Kiwis have cemented their spot at the top of the world rankings, while Australia haven’t played a game since 2019 and are ranked fourth.

“The confidence comes from the journey that we have been on. We have spent a fair bit of time over the last two or three years coming together.

“We have got a big job ahead of us to be able to make sure that we maintain that over the journey of the World Cup, but the boys are in good position to be able to have some strong success here.

“The history tells they (Australia) are obviously the carriers of the World Cup over a long period of time.

“We’ve got some big opposition against us. I think it’s some of the other nations too, like Samoa and Tonga, they have definitely been able to get a lot of quality in there team, England, you can’t underestimate any team.”

Among the 24 players selected in Maguire’s final traveling squad are international newcomers Scott Sorensen, Jeremy Marshall-King and Sebastian Kris.

Kris enjoyed a strong finish to 2022 as part of the Canberra Raiders’ left edge, and across the NRL season scored 14 tries.

With Joseph Manu locked in as the fullback, Maguire hinted that Kris was the frontrunner to fill the vacant centre spot, which Warriors-bound forward Marata Niukore occupied against Tonga.

“Left centre, we played Marata there, but we think Marata is probably more suited to that middle type role,” Maguire said.

“I think he’s found a home in the middle there. But what he can do is play middle, edge and centre. It gives a great opportunity to have someone like that on the bench that can cover quite a number of positions.

“Someone like Seb has played a lot on that left edge and I thought he started to really find his game at the back end of the season.

“I think the upside of Seb is enormous…. the last month, the games that he played and experience he got out of the finals was really important.”

The Kiwis will play a warm up match against Super League side the Leeds Rhinos on October 8 (UK time) before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Lebanon later this month.

Leeds v Kiwis available to stream here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuhXSy_OCvE  KO 6am NZT Sunday 9 October

By Corey Rosser NRL.com

Leeds, New Zealand, October 5, 2022 – Thomas Leulaui will be surrounded by former New Zealand teammates when he ends his decorated 20-season career leading the Kiwis in their Rugby League World Cup warm-up match against the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Saturday (6.00pm kick-off local time; 6.00am Sunday NZT).

After Leuluai announced his decision to retire at the end of the 2022 Super League season, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire invited the 37-year-old to finish his playing days with a poignant final appearance in the New Zealand jersey.

Maguire has named a powerful line-up including 10 players who were Kiwi teammates during Leuluai’s 40-Test career from 2003-2017 – Jordan Rapana, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich, Isaac Liu, Joseph Tapine, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and Dean Whare.

Making their New Zealand debuts will be Canberra centre Sebastian Kris and Canterbury Bankstown hooker Jeremy Marshall-King plus Willie Isa, the ex-Toa Samoa international. The 32-year-old joins his Wigan teammate Leuluai and 2012-2017 Kiwi Whare – now with Les Catalans – as one of the three Super League guest players.

The Kiwis will be without the suspended Jared Waerea-Hargreaves plus fullback Joseph Manu. Also not considered were Penrith’s NRL premiership-winning trio James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen as well as Parramatta’s beaten grand finalists Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore. They’re due to join the squad in Leeds on Saturday in time to watch the game.

Saturday’s occasion reprises the 2015 Headingley encounter between the Kiwis and Leeds when the Rhinos emotionally farewelled New Zealanders Ali Lauitiiti and Kylie Leuluai in a game the visitors won 34-16.

This time not only will the Kiwis give Leuluai a special farewell but the Rhinos will also do the same for one of their fan favourites Adam Cuthbertson (37), who has finished his career after more than 300 appearances in the NRL and the Super League.

Leuluai has made almost 500 top level appearances including his 40 Tests, more than 330 games for Wigan and 85 in two stints with the Vodafone Warriors after starting out with the club as a 17-year-old in 2003.

Saturday’s match further cements a link between the two opponents and the famous Headingley ground which now dates back 115 years. It was on October 26, 1907, that the trailblazing All Golds beat Leeds 8-2 in the first of 12 matches between two. New Zealand holds an 11-1 winning advantage.

 

  • It has been confirmed Saturday’s match has been picked up by Sky’s streaming platform Sky Sport Next. It will be available to view on youtube.com free of charge on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuhXSy_OCvE
  • Spark Sport is the official broadcast partner of RLWC21. It will broadcast all 61 official Rugby League World Cup matches live with free-to-air delayed coverage on Three and ThreeNow.

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v LEEDS RHINOS
1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD
2 JORDAN RAPANA
3 PETA HIKU
4 SEBASTIAN KRIS
5 RONALDO MULITALO
6 KIERAN FORAN
7 THOMAS LEULUAI (c)
8 JESSE BROMWICH
9 BRANDON SMITH
10 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA
11 KENNY BROMWICH
12 BRITON NIKORA
13 ISAAC LIU
  Interchange:
14 JAHROME HUGHES
15 JOSEPH TAPINE
16 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK
17 JEREMY MARSHALL-KING
18 DEAN WHARE
19 WILLIE ISA

International Rugby League returns to Headingley Stadium this Saturday.

After nearly three years without top-class international Rugby League in England, fans can enjoy a feast of Rugby League action at Headingley Stadium this Autumn kicking off with a historic clash between Leeds Rhinos and New Zealand on Saturday 8th October, kick off 6pm (Sunday 9th October 6am NZT).

The game will be available to stream on Sky Sport Next free of charge – click here to access stream

The unique clash will continue a rich tradition of games between the two sides that dates back to the first ever touring side, the All Golds back in 1907. The match will be 115 years since Leeds and the All Golds met at Headingley for the first time on 26th October 1907. Three months later, Rugby League’s first ever Test was also hosted by Headingley with the Northern Union winning 14-6 on 25th January 1908.

The match will be a celebration of Rugby League with the club aiming to work with every community club in the region to provide special offers for all those involved in the community game to make it a night to remember at Headingley.

The game is also a repeat of an unforgettable night back in 2015 when Leeds played the Kiwis in front of a sell-out crowd at Headingley prior to the £45 million redevelopment of the stadium.

The match will be a vital warm up game for Michael Maguire’s side ahead of the Rugby League World Cup when they also play Ireland at Headingley in the pool stages in October.

The current team will be defending New Zealand honour against Leeds with only the 1972 tourists having lost to Leeds in twelve previous clashes between the sides dating back to 1907.

Commenting on the clash with New Zealand Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “To have been granted a game against one of our great Test playing nations is a huge honour and a privilege for Leeds Rhinos. International Rugby League is the pinnacle of our sport and it has been sorely missed over the last three years due to the global pandemic.

“Our home at Headingley is intrinsically linked to the international game for over a century and I believe this game is a fantastic way to celebrate that history but also look ahead to a thrilling home World Cup here in England.

“For the first time, the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cups will be played at the same time with Headingley hosting Australia and Fiji on the opening day of the men’s tournament and the opening two games of the women’s tournament.

“Ourselves and the Kiwis have a long shared history and this will be the chance to write a new chapter.  Our links with New Zealand include the many great players who have played for us down the years like Bert Cook, Dean Bell, Brent Webb and Ali Lauitiiti from New Zealand. It is also important for us as a club to give our next generation of players unique opportunities to grow and test themselves. One aspect of our game we have lost in the summer era is the chance for club players to test themselves against touring nations and this is a wonderful opportunity for our squad.

“Our last meeting back in 2015 was a real ‘I was there’ moment with a number of former players making guest appearances including Ali Lauitiiti and Adrian Morley playing their final games as part of the occasion and I am sure we will have some surprises in store nearer the time. I would also like to thank Treble Group UK for their role in facilitating the game,” added Hetherington.

Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, “To face the Rhinos at Headingly to kick start our World Cup campaign is special.

“The match celebrates our return to the Northern Hemisphere after an international rugby league hiatus while also commemorating the long shared history between New Zealand and Leeds that holds a special place in the hearts of Kiwi fans and legends.

“Together we celebrate a new era of rugby league, a crucial first stop on our World Cup Waka and the perfect ground for our current and future Kiwis to pave their way against some of the Northern Hemisphere’s best.”

Spark Sport has today announced that Warner Bros. Discovery will be the New Zealand free-to-air partner for Rugby League World Cup 2021 which takes place from 15 October to 19 November 2022 in England.

New Zealanders will be able to access all 61 matches across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments exclusively live and on-demand on Spark Sport while delayed coverage of all Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns matches will be available on Three and ThreeNow.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 is the pinnacle event in international rugby league and will see the 15 wheelchair matches played alongside the men’s (16 nations) and the women’s (eight nations) tournaments and broadcast live for the first time.

Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch says: “We’re thrilled to make our debut as New Zealand’s exclusive broadcast rights holder for RLWC2021 and we’re looking forward to working alongside the team at Three to make the tournament as accessible as possible for league fans here.

“In 2017, we saw the enormous fanfare for the Pacific Nations, particularly Tonga as their men’s team made their way to a World Cup semi-final for the first time in the team’s history and I’m sure Tongan fans will be eagerly waiting to see what their team can achieve this year – flags and all.

“League fans will be able to start their day with a dose of World Cup action as the majority of matches conveniently hit New Zealand live in the morning.

“We look forward to bringing all 61 matches of the World Cup magic to rugby league fans all around Aotearoa come 15 October.”

Juliet Peterson, Senior Director Content ANZ, Warner Bros. Discovery says: “We’re incredibly excited to be expanding our sports offering on Three and ThreeNow through our continued partnership with Spark Sport. As the free-to-air broadcaster of Rugby League World Cup 2021 we’re so proud to be supporting our men’s and women’s teams and bringing Aotearoa’s sports fans more of the action they love.”

To catch all 61 matches of the RLWC2021 live on Spark Sport, visit sparksport.co.nz.

 

Matches free-to-air on Three include:

Men’s

Date Match Live on Spark Sport Delayed on Three
17 October Kiwis v Lebanon 7.30am 9.30am
23 October Kiwis v Jamaica 7.30am 8.30am
29 October Kiwis v Ireland 7.30am 8.30am
5 November

 

QF1: Winner Group B v Runner Up Group C 8.30am 9.30am

(if Kiwis feature)

6 November QF3: Winner Group C v Runner Up Group B 8.30am 9.30am

(if Kiwis feature)

12 November SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 8.45am 10am

(if Kiwis feature)

13 November SF2: Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 3.30am 8.30am

(if Kiwis feature)

20 November Men’s Final 5.00am 9.00am (if Kiwis feature)

 

Note:  Quarter-Final and Semi-Final matches which feature the Kiwis will be delayed on Three. If the Kiwis are successful in reaching the final, Three will also show this match delayed.

 

 

Women’s

Date Match Live on Spark Sport Delayed on Three
3 November Kiwi Ferns v France 6.00am 9.30am
7 November Kiwi Ferns v Cook Islands 6.00am 9.30am
11 November Australia v Kiwi Ferns 8.30am 9.30am
15 November SF1: Winner Group B v Runner Up Group A 6.00am 9.30am (if Kiwi Ferns feature)
15 November SF2: Winner Group A v Runner Up Group B 8.30am 9.30am (if Kiwi Ferns feature)
20 November Women’s Final 2.15am 6.15am (if Kiwi Ferns feature)

 

Note: A Semi-Final match featuring the Kiwi Ferns will be delayed on Three. If the Kiwi Ferns are successful in reaching the final, Three will also show this match delayed.

Auckland, New Zealand, October 3, 2022 – Back-to-back NRL premiership winners James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen are among six grand finalists named in the New Zealand Kiwis’ 24-man squad for the Rugby League World Cup in England.

The trio have been confirmed after making impressive contributions in Penrith’s 28-12 victory over the Parramatta Eels in last night’s 2022 NRL decider at Accor Stadium in Sydney.

The Penrith players are joined by Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore from the beaten Eels side.

All six players were in the Kiwis’ extended squad which went into camp for the June Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium, a match which saw Brown, Niukore and Leota make their New Zealand Test debuts alongside the previously capped Fisher-Harris and Papali’i while Sorensen was on the extended bench.

“Selecting the squad for the World Cup was a real challenge given the quality of players in contention,” said New Zealand Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire.

“There were some tough calls to make but we’re excited about the group we’ve settled on.

“These players have all been impressive for their clubs this season, not least James (Fisher-Harris), Moses (Leota) and Scott (Sorensen) who were all outstanding for Penrith in the grand final.”

Another feature of the selection is the return of seasoned middle forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu plus fullback-centre Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Waerea-Hargreaves and 2019 Kiwi Nicoll-Klokstad were unavailable for the Tonga Test due to injury while Liu, after being originally selected, remained in Australia to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s second child.

The only new face in the squad is centre Sebastian Kris (23), who has scored 25 tries in his 44 NRL appearances for Canberra. Born in Brisbane, he is of New Zealand descent through his Huntly-raised mother.

Another player making a return is Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King. Uncapped at Test level, he was in the Kiwi squad for the World Nines in 2019.

The Kiwis, minus the six grand final players, assembled and trained in Sydney this week before the advance party of 18 players plus staff flew to England on Friday.

They’re based in Leeds this week for a warm-up match against the beaten Super League grand finalists the Rhinos at Headingley on Saturday night. Three players are joining the Kiwis for the match which will serve as a farewell for Thomas Leuluai, who is ending his remarkable 20-season career after making his NRL debut as a 17-year-old with the Vodafone Warriors in 2003.

The 37-year-old will lead the Kiwis in his last game before beginning a coaching career with Wigan.

Les Catalans centre Dean Whare, a 19-Test Kiwi from 2012-2017, and Wigan back rower Willie Isa are also joining the Kiwis for the match against Leeds.

The six players involved in the NRL grand final are due to arrive in Leeds next Saturday but won’t be involved in the match against the Rhinos.

The Kiwis then move to their World Cup base in York. Their opening Pool C match is against Lebanon in Warrington on October 16 followed by Jamaica in Hull on October 22 and Ireland in Leeds on October 28.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for November 4,5 and 6, the semifinals on November 11 and 12 and the final at Old Trafford in Manchester on November 19.

 

NZ KIWIS | RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP SQUAD

 

PLAYERS
NAME CLUB
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA Melbourne Storm
JESSE BROMWICH Melbourne Storm
KENNEATH BROMWICH Melbourne Storm
DYLAN BROWN Parramatta Eels
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS Penrith Panthers
KIERAN FORAN Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
PETA HIKU North Queensland Cowboys
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm
SEBASTIAN KRIS* Canberra Raiders
MOSES LEOTA Penrith Panthers
ISAAC LIU Gold Coast Titans
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters
JEREMY MARSHALL-KING* Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
RONALDO MULITALO Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD Canberra Raiders
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
MARATA NIUKORE Parramatta Eels
ISAIAH PAPALI’I Parramatta Eels
JORDAN RAPANA Canberra Raiders
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm
SCOTT SORENSEN* Penrith Panthers
JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES Sydney Roosters
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK Vodafone Warriors

29 September 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

Sydney Roosters halfback Raecene McGregor has been crowned the 2022 NRLW Dally M Medal winner following a dominant season for the Tricolours.

McGregor finished ahead of Knight Tamika Upton and Bronco Tarryn Aiken with Roosters teammates Sam Bremner and Isabelle Kelly rounding out the top five.

Kiwis duo Joseph Manu and Joseph Tapine have both been named in the Dally M Team of the Year at NRL’s annual awards.

Roosters centre Manu and Raiders second-rower Tapine were rewarded for their strong individual form this season as Cronulla halfback Nicho Hynes claimed a record points haul to take out the NRL’s top gong in dominant fashion.

Hynes on Wednesday night became the clear star of rugby league’s night of nights, with the Cronulla halfback finishing on a record 38 points.

Three points behind Ben Hunt at the halfway mark of the season, the Sharks star stormed home to beat out James Tedesco by five points while Hunt finished third.

In doing so, he joined the likes of Johnathan Thurston as just the fifth player in history to claim the award in his first season at a new club.

“I can hand on heart say I came here not expecting anything at all.

“I can’t believe it. It’s bloody crazy. I am pinching myself.

“To have this around my neck. I frothed Johnathan Thurston growing up, Andrew Johns.

“And now I am alongside them. It’s unbelievable.”

Todd Payten claimed the major men’s coaching gong, while his second-rower, New Zealand-born Jeremiah Nanai, was the rookie of the year after scoring 17 tries for North Queensland.

Penrith’s Isaah Yeo was named captain of the year, headlining three Panthers in the NRL’s Dally M team of the year.

Hynes was also awarded the Provan Summons spirit of NRL award for his work in raising awareness for mental health following his post-match interview after Paul Green’s death.

But it is the top gong he will remember most, given it was his first season as a full-time starter after spending years in the rugby league wilderness before being given a chance at Melbourne.

Named as Ryan Papenhuyzen’s replacement last year when the Storm fullback went down with injury, Hynes was an instant star in the NRL.

A playmaker as a junior, Craig Fitzgibbon placed his faith in the 26-year-old as one of his first signings to lead the Sharks into the next era as No 7.

He was instantly rewarded with Hynes setting up 26 tries in a stellar season and becoming the first Shark to win the award since Preston Campbell in 2001.

And he did it all with his mother as his date for the night, admitting she had almost brought him to tears.

“I almost had a little tear come down [during my speech]. We have been through a hell of a lot,” he said.

“Everything I do is for her, and obviously my dad too … But mum has had a tougher life.

“To bring her with me and see her smile.

“I saw her [getting emotional], but I couldn’t keep looking otherwise I would have got too emotional.”

 

AT A GLANCE

Dally M honour role:

Men:

Player of the year: Nicho Hynes

Rookie: Jeremiah Nanai

Captain: Isaah Yeo

Team of the year: James Tedesco, Joseph Sua’ali’i, Joseph Manu, Valentine Holmes, Alex Johnston, Cameron Munster, Nicho Hynes, Joseph Tapine, Api Koroisau, Payne Haas, Viliame Kikau, Jeremiah Nanai, Isaah Yeo. Coach: Todd Payten

Women:

Player of the year: Raecene McGregor

Rookie: Jesse Southwell

Captain: Isabelle Kelly

NRLW team of the year: Sam Bremner, Teagan Berry, Isabeele Kelly, Jessica Sergis, Jaime Champan, Tarryn Aiken, Raecene McGregor, Caitlan Johnston, Keeley Davis, Millie Boyle, Keilee Joseph, Olivia Kernick, Simaima Taufa. Coach: John Strange

 

 

28 September 2022

as seen on uk.sports.yahoo.com

Joey Manu fell in love with rugby league when New Zealand won the World Cup in 2008. Now, he wants to help inspire the next generation of Kiwis.

The Sydney Roosters superstar was just 12 years old when New Zealand last won their only World Cup, but it made him dream of lifting the Cup himself one day.

And Manu will get the chance to do that this autumn. He is all but certain to wear the No. 1 jersey for Michael Maguire’s side at the tournament.

“If we do what we want to do then it will be something special for New Zealand in terms of rugby league,” Manu told The Roar’s World Cup Chasers Podcast about this year’s World Cup.

“I was a little kid when we won it in 2008 so that was pretty special. Looking back on that, it made me enjoy rugby league a lot more and seeing that team win was pretty cool. It would bring a lot of happiness to fans and young kids in New Zealand (if we won).

“Rugby (Union) is always pretty dominant in New Zealand but if we do what we set out to achieve, then we will definitely bring a better light onto New Zealand Rugby League.

“There is a lot of talent in New Zealand and we want more younger kids playing so I think if we do that and they see what we can do, then the game would be a lot bigger.”

 

KIWIS: How New Zealand could line-up at the Rugby League World Cup

Joey Manu

Manu says he is looking forward to playing in England again this autumn. He played for the Kiwis on their 2018 tour of England as well as being involved in World Club Challenges with the Roosters.

“I did 2018 Kiwis tour so I did like six weeks over there which was my first time over there,” Manu added.

“I’ve been over there a couple of times. I know what the atmosphere is like, it is pretty exciting and I love playing over there. We can definitely do what we want to do.

“The fans will be pretty supportive, especially of England, but of a lot of the other teams too. I’m looking forward to seeing the fans representing their countries and favourite players.

“England is a long way away and a lot of the boys will be away from their family but we will get locked in and focus on what we want to achieve. It makes it a bit sweeter when you come home (if you do win).

“Family is a big part in Kiwi culture. No doubt there’ll be a few Kiwis over there too so we are looking forward to it.”

28 September 2022

as seen on warriors.kiwi

Seven New Zealand internationals are set to line up for Penrith and Parramatta in the NRL’s battle-of-the-west grand final at Accor Stadium on Sunday.

Panthers forwards James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota and Parramatta’s Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore were all teammates when the Kiwis beat Mate Ma’a Tonga 26-6 at Mount Smart Stadium in June while Penrith forward Scott Sorensen was in the extended squad.

The seventh international is Eels winger Bailey Simonsson, who represented the Kiwis at the World Nines in 2019.

Apart from those seven players a number of other players with New Zealand links are set to feature in the final.

Parramatta boasts Auckland-born forwards Junior Paulo and Oregon Kaufusi and Penrith has another Auckland-born prop in Spencer Leniu; all three players have just been named in Toa Samoa’s squad for the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Another with New Zealand links is Penrith standoff Jarome Luai, a Māori All Star last year and Junior Kiwis captain 2017.

New Plymouth-born Makahesi Makatoa has been an interchange regular for the Eels throughout the season although he wasn’t used in last week’s preliminary final win over North Queensland.

Ex-Vodafone Warrior Sean O’Sullivan is on Penrith’s extended bench for the grand final and another former Warrior Ofahiki Ogden is in Parramatta’s squad.

21 September 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

Five Kiwis have been named in the NRL Finals Team of the Week as the preliminary finals loom.

Sharks wing Ronaldo Mulitalo, Eels standoff Dylan Brown, Eels backrower Isaiah Papali’i, Warriors-bound Eels utility Marata Niukore and Raiders player of the year Joseph Tapine were selected by NRL.com after standout performances in week two of the playoffs.

The Eels trio are among 10 members of the Kiwis’ 34-man extended World Cup squad remaining in contention for a NRL title as the competition gets down to the last-four this weekend.

They will be joined by their Eels clubmate Bailey Simonsson (a former All Blacks sevens rugby union international), the Panthers’ James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen, Cowboys duo Peta Hiku and Griffin Neame and Rabbitohs interchange player Kodi Nikorima, the Dolphins-bound half or hooker who left the Warriors for South Sydney in mid-season.

Mulitalo was selected on the wing in the Team of the Week despite the Sharks’ 38-12 exit to the Rabbitohs last week.

A NRL.com report noted he set up Cronulla’s first try to fellow Kiwi Briton Nikora “before blitzing everyone on a runaway four-pointer of his own’’.

Brown, 22, was one of the most impactful players of the round, joining his Eels halves partner Mitchell Moses in the Team of the Week after a crushing 40-4 win over the Raiders.

The NRL.com citation said Brown “carried the ball 29 times and had a colossal 321 run metres to show for it”.

Papali’i – set to join Wests Tigers next season after two successful years with Parramatta – “ran for 232 metres, more than any other forward in Finals Week 2, and was a menace down his side of the field’’, as well as “a pillar of strength in defence’’, with 29 tackles.

Niukore – often an Eels forward – moved to the centres in the second half and scored two tries in the last 10 minutes.

Despite the Raiders’ tanking against Parramatta, NRL.com said Canberra prop Tapine could “hold his head high” after 38 tackles and 134 run metres.

The Eels supplied nine players to the 17-man Team of the Week.

The Cowboys host the Eels in their preliminary final in Townsville on Friday night while the defending champion Panthers will be at home to the Rabbitohs on Saturday in a repeat of last year’s NRL grand final.

Both games will start at 9.50pm (NZ time)

 

 

NRL.com’s Team of Finals Week 2

 

Fullback: Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs).

Wings: Ronaldo Mulitalo (Sharks), Taane Milne (Rabbitohs).

Centres: Campbell Graham (Rabbitohs), Will Penisini (Eels).

Five-eighth: Dylan Brown (Eels).

Halfback: Mitchell Moses (Eels).

Props: Junior Paulo (Eels), Tevita Tatola (Sharks).

Hooker: Reed Mahoney (Eels).

Backrow: Shaun Lane (Eels), Isaiah Papali’i (Eels).

Lock: Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs).

 

Interchange: Damien Cook (Rabbitohs), Marata Niukore (Eels), Joseph Tapine (Raiders), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Eels).

19 September 2022

as seen on Stuff.co.nz

There’s been a New Zealander in every Super League grand final since its advent in 1998 and next weekend’s title decider at Old Trafford will be no different.

Five players with New Zealand links are set to line up in European rugby league’s season showpiece at Manchester United’s famous football ground.

St Helens – seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive Super League title – could potentially field former Warriors Konrad Hurrell, Agnatius Paasi and James Bell.

Leeds Rhinos, who upset the Wigan Warriors 20-8 in Friday’s (Saturday NZ time) semifinal, boast former Kiwis and Cook Islands forward Zane Tetevano and ex-New Zealand Māori representative Bodene Thompson.

None of the five grand final players with Kiwi links will represent New Zealand at next month’s Rugby League Cup.

Hurrell – born in Tonga but schooled in Auckland – and Paasi are in Tonga’s provisional squad. Bell is likely to represent Scotland for a second time. Tetevano could be a Cook Islands contender while Thompson, who played 107 games for the Warriors, has never played test football.

There will be no Old Trafford curtain call, however, for Kiwis great Thomas Leuluai, who played his last club game for Wigan in the loss to Leeds before retiring to become a Wigan assistant-coach.

The Wigan and Leeds teams formed a guard of honour as Leuluai left the field.

The 36-year-old told Sky Sports he had been “playing for a very long time, I’ve enjoyed it.

“It’s been a great journey and I’ve met some great people, but it’s definitely the right time for me to go.’’

Leuluai, a Rugby League World Cup winner in 2008, has played 490 games over 20 years in the NRL, Super League and 40 tests for the Kiwis.

“His career speaks for itself, it’s been a fairytale his family should be proud of,’’ Wigan coach Matt Peet said.

Leuluai will make one final appearance when he leads out the Kiwis in a pre-World Cup game against the Leeds Rhinos on October 8.

Meanwhile, the Salford Red Devils team that lost 19-12 to St Helens on Saturday (Sunday NZ time) included former Warriors and Kiwis back rower Elijah Taylor and Fijian-born former Warriors prop King Vuniyayawa.

Underdogs Leeds scored three tries to beat Wigan – a double to James Bentley and another by Jarrod O’Connor – as the Rhinos completed their 13th win in 19 games under new Australian coach Rohan Smith.

Any chance of a Wigan comeback died when backrower John Bateman was sent off for high shot that clipped Leeds halfback Aidan Sezer’s head.

James Batchelor scored twice for St Helens against Salford, and Jon Bennison added a late clinching try.

Salford coach Paul Rowley felt hard done when centre Tim Lafai was held back by Saints winger Tommy Makinson with a potential try in the offing.

Asked if Salford should have had a penalty try, Rowley told reporters: “Yeah is the short answer. It’s a tough one because I do, but there’s no point in me sitting here discussing ifs and buts.”

Taylor also crossed for a try that was disallowed for an earlier offside.

Salford, who have the smallest budget in Super League, lost Super League Dream halfback Brodie Croft before the match and then saw in-form hooker Andy Ackers limp off after two minutes.

St Helens can now aim to send Australian coach Kristian Woolf home to the new Dolphins NRL side with his third title in as many seasons.

16 September 2022

as seen on NRL.com

The three-hour trips along the winding, at times snow-flanked, roads carved through New Zealand’s Southern Alps tended to begin with Elvis Presley playing gently in the background, and gradually evolved to more obscure music from the late 1950s.

While West Coast Rugby League development officer Paddy Byrne’s taste in music wasn’t popular with most of the teenage rugby league players onboard, who quickly had their rap music banned, Griffin Neame didn’t mind one bit.

“Griff sort of came into favour with me because he supported my taste of music. I thought straight away, ‘well, there’s a touch of class there’,” Byrne told NRL.com.

“Funnily enough, his favourite song was where do you go to my lovely by Peter Sarstedt. Griff could open up his lungs when we got into a bit of old stuff.”

Light-hearted as they were at the time, those moments were early evidence of Neame’s strong character and a sign that he wasn’t afraid to stray away from the pack.

He needed those values in the years which followed, as he went on to make it to the NRL out of a region which has, in recent times, had only a handful of its juniors make it to the big stage.

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island was once a rugby league stronghold, with mining the predominant employer and league the most popular sport among the area’s tough, working-class people.

Over the years the region provided large numbers of representatives to the national team, including New Zealand Team of the Century members George Menzies and Jock Butterfield.

But that’s no longer the case, with the region struggling for playing numbers in comparison to its glory years, and with most of the Kiwi talent in the NRL now coming out of Auckland.

For a brief period when Neame was a teenager, the West Coast even struggled to get players into the South Island Scorpions representative sides.

Had Southern Zone Rugby League not pushed for academies to be set up on the West Coast, and if not for the tireless work of people like Byrne, there is every chance Neame wouldn’t have made rep sides as a youngster, let alone been in a position to attract the attention of scouts at the national tournament where he was picked up by the Cowboys.

“It was sort of crazy, it all came out of nowhere. I made the U-15 Scorpions and I was just surprised to be on team and excited to play,” Neame said.

“Suddenly I had four or five clubs come up to my parents on the sideline.

“It was something I didn’t take for granted… my parents got a few free dinners out of it as well, so they were happy!”

You wouldn’t know it by looking at his 106kg, 193cm frame these days, but Neame’s body was initially something good judges thought would hold him back from making it to the higher levels of the game.

While it wasn’t such an issue at home on the West Coast, his lack of bulk often left him exposed when he’d travel to bigger cities for tournaments.

“He was tall but there wasn’t much meat on the bones. I didn’t look at him and say ‘NRL’,” Byrne said.

“Within 12 months we probably saw him develop physically. I never had any doubt about the rest of the requirements.”

But those same physical shortcomings also meant he developed a different style to others in New Zealand.

While they could rely on going through opponents, Neame had to work out ways to get around them.

“He doesn’t buy into ‘I’ll just try and run over everyone’, he’s got a lovely bit of footwork at the line,” Byrne said.

“He has a natural ability to find space in the defensive line. He’s intelligent enough to run to the space and he has the athleticism to do that.”

At some point in the future, Griffin Neame knows the sun-kissed hills of New Zealand’s famed winegrowing regions will call his name.

Once the rough and tumble of being a forward in the NRL is over, that’s the dream, living in the serenity and pursuing his passion for all things wine.

“My mum and dad love their wine and my grandparents love their wine. I drink it from time to time, especially when at home,” said Neame, whose wine of choice is a Shiraz.

“I wouldn’t mind owning a vineyard, it’d be pretty fun. Mum and dad could come and work there and I’ll pay them in wine, they’d be happy as!

“When I finish footy and get a bit older I can see myself moving back home and relaxing out there.”

For now though there is a dream to try and fulfill on the footy field, with the Cowboys one win away from a Grand Final appearance, with a home preliminary final against either the Eels or Raiders awaiting them.

Neame has also been named in New Zealand’s extended squad for the World Cup, having earlier this year been in the wider group selected to take on Tonga in June.

While he got just seven minutes on the field in his side’s 93-minute thriller against the Sharks in Finals Week 1, Neame said he is soaking up every moment of the experience.

“To be part of it is pretty crazy and the feeling now with a home prelim in Townsville, and we are only one win away from the Grand Final,” he said.

“Growing up in Greymouth I have a lot of people there who message me after games. It’s a cool feeling knowing most of the town is watching.

“If I was a young kid, thinking I was going to be close to a GF at 21? I just wouldn’t have believed it.”

Auckland, New Zealand, September 14, 2022 – New Zealand Rugby League selectors have added 10 players to the Kiwis’ mid-year Test line-up in a 34-man wider squad to prepare for the Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom starting next month.

Among the additions are experienced Kiwis Shaun Johnson, Kodi Nikorima and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves along with Corey Harawira-Naera, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who all made their New Zealand Test debuts in 2019.

Also included are Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs hooker Jeremy Marshall-King and Parramatta Eels winger Bailey Simonsson, both selected in the Kiwis’ squad for the 2019 World Nines in Sydney.

The only two new faces are in-form Canberra centres Sebastian Kris (23) and Matthew Timoko (22) who have been instrumental in the Raiders’ surge into week two of the NRL finals after eliminating Melbourne Storm 28-20 on Saturday night.

Of the 25 players named in the extended squad for the 26-6 win over Mate Ma’a Tonga in June only Gold Coast hooker Erin Clark isn’t included after being ruled out following knee surgery.

Seven of the players are yet to make their Test debuts for the Kiwis – Kris, Timoko, Marshall-King, Simonsson, Griffin Neame, Jordan Riki and Scott Sorensen – but Neame, Riki and Sorensen were in camp for the Tonga Test.

“We wanted to name a wider squad so we have all options covered while the NRL finals are playing out,” said Kiwis head coach Michael Maguire.

“We’re excited about the depth of players available and the form they’re in. The vast majority of them are in sides that made it into the finals which is a real positive as we look ahead to the tournament.”

The Kiwis are due to assemble in Sydney on September 27 where they’ll train for two days before flying to England on September 30. Players selected from the two teams in the grand final will travel separately the following week.

The New Zealanders will warm up for their World Cup campaign with a match against the Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on October 8 when 2008 World Cup winner Thomas Leuluai will be guest captain in the final match of his decorated career before retiring.

The Kiwis will then move to their RLWC base in York. Their opening Pool C match is against Lebanon in Warrington on October 16 followed by Jamaica in Hull on October 22 and Ireland in Leeds on October 28.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for November 4,5 and 6, the semifinals on November 11 and 12 and the final at Old Trafford in Manchester on November 19.

 

NZ KIWIS RLWC WIDER SQUAD

 

PLAYERS
NAME CLUB
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA Melbourne Storm
JESSE BROMWICH Melbourne Storm
KENNEATH BROMWICH Melbourne Storm
DYLAN BROWN Parramatta Eels
JAMES FISHER-HARRIS Penrith Panthers
KIERAN FORAN Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA Canberra Raiders
PETA HIKU North Queensland Cowboys
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm
SHAUN JOHNSON Vodafone Warriors
SEBASTIAN KRIS* Canberra Raiders
MOSES LEOTA Penrith Panthers
ISAAC LIU Gold Coast Titans
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters
JEREMY MARSHALL-KING* Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs
TE MAIRE MARTIN Brisbane Broncos
KEN MAUMALO Wests Tigers
RONALDO MULITALO Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
GRIFFIN NEAME* North Queensland Cowboys
CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD Canberra Raiders
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
KODI NIKORIMA South Sydney Rabbitohs
MARATA NIUKORE Parramatta Eels
ISAIAH PAPALI’I Parramatta Eels
JORDAN RAPANA Canberra Raiders
JORDAN RIKI* Brisbane Broncos
BAILEY SIMONSSON* Parramatta Eels
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm
SCOTT SORENSEN* Penrith Panthers
JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders
MATTHEW TIMOKO* Canberra Raiders
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES Sydney Roosters
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK Vodafone Warriors

12 September 2022

as seen as warriors.kiwi

Queen Elizabeth II’s passing this week has brought back memories of the 2007 All Golds – including several Vodafone Warriors legends – visiting Buckingham Palace and becoming the first and only sporting team to perform the haka inside the hallowed walls.

The trip to the United Kingdom had been arranged to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the original All Golds’ tour in 1907 which gave birth to international rugby league.

The audience with the Queen had been made possible through the efforts of Jonathan Hunt, New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London working with All Golds manager the late Malcolm Boyle.

Legendary Wayne Bennett, appointed to coach the All Golds, was joined by a number of New Zealand greats including Vodafone Warriors present and past in All Golds captain Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones, Ali Lauitiiti, Nigel Vagana, Clinton Toopi and Awen Guttenbeil. Also present was then Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price who had been chosen as the modern-day equivalent of Dally Messenger, the 1907 team’s Australian guest player.

After disembarking from the team bus inside the gates of Buckingham Palace, All Golds management, players and staff were ushered to the Bow Room for afternoon tea with the Queen and Prince Philip.

The audience with the Queen had been made possible through the efforts of Jonathan Hunt, New Zealand’s High Commissioner in London working with All Golds manager the late Malcolm Boyle.

Legendary Wayne Bennett, appointed to coach the All Golds, was joined by a number of New Zealand greats including Vodafone Warriors present and past in All Golds captain Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones, Ali Lauitiiti, Nigel Vagana, Clinton Toopi and Awen Guttenbeil. Also present was then Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price who had been chosen as the modern-day equivalent of Dally Messenger, the 1907 team’s Australian guest player.

After disembarking from the team bus inside the gates of Buckingham Palace, All Golds management, players and staff were ushered to the Bow Room for afternoon tea with the Queen and Prince Philip.

The occasion was a rare opportunity in the royal spotlight for New Zealand rugby league, a visit not to be forgotten – but it didn’t end there.

Before departing the players removed their jackets and assembled in the Quadrangle downstairs where Wiki led a spirited haka to honour Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

With the haka reverberating around the walls, palace staff gathered in force on stairways on either side of the Quadrangle to behold the sights and sounds of history being made.

When it was over the Queen led rapturous applause for the performance which had climaxed a lifetime experience unlikely to be repeated for those in attendance.

Being there in the Bow Room, meeting and chatting with the Queen, patting the Corgis and then witnessing the haka was in equal measure exhilarating, emotional and inspiring.

It was clear Her Majesty was suitably amused.

12 September 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead has hailed teammate Joe Tapine as the world’s best prop after the New Zealand international’s starring role in the NRL elimination final triumph over Melbourne.

Tapine was at his best in helping Canberra record their fifth straight win at AAMI Park, ousting the Storm from the finals with a 28-20 victory.

The 28-year-old’s contribution didn’t surprise Whitehead.

“He deserves every bit of credit he’s getting at the moment.”

Tapine appreciated the recognition coming his way recently, especially given he’s not eligible to share in the game’s State of Origin spotlight.

“I’ve been working hard all year and starting to see some good compliments and results out of it,” he said.

“I think everyone wants to be the best player in their position. I probably don’t get put in those conversations much, so I just work hard to try and get my name up there.

“It’s a bit tough when you’re not playing Origin, that’s pretty much the gold standard in rugby league, if you’re playing Origin, you get a bit more exposure.

“I’ve just got to work a bit harder to get that recognition.”

Tapine will lead Canberra’s forward pack into battle in a semi-final showdown with Parramatta – and former teammate Junior Paulo.

“During the game, you do all you can to try and hit them hard and they try to hit you hard,” Tapine said of the clash with Paulo.

“After the game, you’re still mates, so it’s easy.”

The only sour note from another successful trip to Melbourne was Tapine being placed on report after crashing into Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes.

But Hughes returned to the ground after the knock and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is confident Tapine will have nothing to worry about.

shattered Craig Bellamy said his departing players, including skipper Jesse Bromwich, deserved a better send-off than the disappointing NRL finals defeat against Canberra.

The Storm’s season was ended abruptly on Saturday night by the Raiders who chalked up their fifth successive win at AAMI Park with a 28-20 victory.

The coach lamented their defensive lapses that allowed the Raiders to score a number of soft tries.

“We’ve been a bit patchy everywhere, our defence and with our attack as well,” Bellamy said.

“Some of it has come a little bit with some of the injuries in key positions and working out what fits best but other clubs have injuries too.

“I was pretty proud of them to even have a chance of top four with our last game but the last three weeks we’ve been really inconsistent.

“To score 20 points it should be enough to win a final but to let 28 in, you’re going to lose every time.

“It looked like they wanted it a bit more than we did.”

It was the last game for Bromwich and his younger brother Kenny as well as Felise Kaufusi, with the veteran trio all shifting to new NRL entry the Dolphins.

Hooker Brandon Smith is also on the move after signing with the Sydney Roosters.

With his voice wavering, Bellamy said it wasn’t the way he wanted to see his players go out, with the club making its earliest exit since 2014.

Jesse has played 295 games since making his Storm debut in 2010.

“They’ve all been tremendous for us,” Bellamy said.

“Jesse and Kenny have been here since 2008 – that’s a long time and they’ve done a lot for our club.

“I’m so disappointed for them, I think they deserve to go out on a better note than that.

“Fuse (Kaufusi) has turned into a State of Origin and Australian player and the other three have all played for New Zealand so they’ve done a lot of great things for our club and some great things for themselves since they’ve been here so it’s disappointing to be sending them out on this note.”

Bellamy said it probably wouldn’t sink in until the pre-season that his senior players had gone, while Bromwich also felt emotional about his departure.

“The game summed up our season – pretty inconsistent out there,” the Kiwi prop said.

“It was really tough – I’m sure when I’m cleaning out locker it will sink in but this place has done a lot for me and my family and I’m really going to miss it.”

7 September 2022

as seen on newshub.co.nz

NZ Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith has revealed the most emotional moment of his league career and paid tribute to his parents for their support through some troublesome years.

A tearful Smith describes his international debut for New Zealand in their 26-24 upset win over Australia as a moment he won’t ever forget.

“My debut was a very, very emotional game,” Smith told Fox League. “I just never thought that was possible.

“I’d played like 46 minutes of hooker that year and then I got named as the starting dummy half for the Kiwis team.

“It doesn’t sound real, like Madge’s belief in the New Zealand team. He wanted winners in his team and we were winners obviously.

“Then I went and played in front of my family and friends – it was very special.

“We got the win over Australia, which was absolutely crazy. Like I said, that was a full dream and I didn’t believe it for a long time after the game.”

Smith, 26, moved from Waiheke Island to Townsville as a teen, playing for North Queensland Cowboys in the youth grades for two seasons.

After he was arrested for his involvement in a fight at a party, he had his contract torn up, before being re-signed just six months later, after his performances in the Mal Meninga Cup.

But his move to the Storm catapulted his career, as he earned his Kiwis debut in 2018.

Smith reveals the heartwarming moment he shared with his parents after the game.”Yes, it was very special, I guess, from my old man in particular,” he said.

“My mum and my dad worked really hard when I was younger to get me in that position, and I’ve seen my dad after the game. I think we had a 10-minute hug.

“I’m just glad I’ve been able to give back to them those sort of memories that they can cherish. I guess they’re definitely my No.1 supporters.

“It’s sometimes annoying that I have to get like 20 tickets every time we play in Brissy [Brisbane], I’m just glad I get to live out my dream that they wanted me to.”

Join us on October 2 for live updates of the NRL Grand Final

July 18 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

In just two years, the Tokoroa-based Halo Charitable Trust has distributed almost 400,000kgs of food, equating to around 1.2 million meals, to whānau in need of help in the South Waikato.

Recently, the trust had a helping hand in the form of rugby league star Joseph Manu, who is also an ambassador for the trust, and was born and raised in the South Waikato’s timber town.

Halo Charitable Trust manager Marina Hagevoort said Halo works with around 30 South Waikato community organisations and runs a food distribution hub in Tokoroa that supplies food to local foodbanks and other organisations in the region.

Halo is part of the Food Rescue Programme run by Progressive Enterprises which operates the Woolworths, Countdown and Foodtown supermarkets in New Zealand.

Hagevoort said they would not be able to do their work without help from Trinity Lands, a Putāruru-based agricultural trust that supports a range of community organisations in the South Waikato and New Zealand.

“We work with community organisations from Tīrau through to Tokoroa, our kaupapa is food distribution, so we supply all those groups who do the work at the coalface,” she said.

“They do amazing work and there’s no doubt that demand has got a lot higher, particularly in the last three months.”

She said since Trinity Lands helped Halo set up its distribution hub two years ago the trust had distributed about 390,000kgs of food and supplies to local organisations, which works out to be around 1.2 million meals.

‘We were very busy during the first lockdown and this has just continued.

“Our organisations are telling us that people who are working are now accessing this service due to the cost of living.

“By the time they pay power, rent, school uniforms and fuel, food is often the one that is on the bottom of the list, and it runs out in no time,” she said.

Brett Fleming is general manager for sustainability at Trinity Lands, which owns and operates about 20 farms in the South Waikato giving back around 55% of its profits to charities.

“In Halo’s case we finance things like infrastructure – we pay for the lease for their Tokoroa hub – and bought them a refrigerated vehicle, along with freezers and shelving – the nuts and bolts that underpin the operation.

“We just want to help the community, and often we see people with really good ideas and we want to help them with the sorts of things that allow them to do their good work.

“Some of the different organisations we work with are now working with each other, and we are pleased to be able to help build those networks and help them work together more efficiently and productively.”

Manu, 26, plays for the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition and for New Zealand. He was part of the Roosters’ 2018 and ‘19 grand final winning teams and made his debut for the Kiwis in their famous 2018 win over Australia at Mount Smart Stadium.

Hagevoort said Manu was stoked to be able to give a bit back to his home town and she was proud to say he was the trust’s ambassador.

“He’s a great role model for our kids and it’s great to watch peoples’ faces when he arrives.

“He loves what we do and said he really enjoys helping us out when he’s back in town.

“He’s been in the van out there delivering food, and delivering food to his own people is very humbling for him.”

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 

Four players are set for their Test debuts when the Kiwis face Mate Ma’a Tonga in New Zealand’s first international in more than two and a half years at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

Of the eight new faces included in the wider squad this week, Parramatta duo Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore plus Cronulla Sutherland winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and Penrith prop Moses Leota will all play their first Test for the Kiwis.

Brown is paired in the halves with outstanding Melbourne halfback Jahrome Hughes while Niukore is named in the centres with the experienced Peta Hiku and Leota is on a potent bench.

In other selection features head coach Michael Maguire has selected the versatile Joseph Manu at fullback while in-form Parramatta second rower Isaiah Papali’i, who made his debut off the bench for the Kiwis in England 2018, is a starter in his second Test more than three and half years later.

Included on the interchange is 31-yeard-old Manly Warringah half Kieran Foran who makes another international comeback after overcoming adversity.

His return from a two-year absence in 2019 was cruelly ended by a dislocated shoulder just six minutes into the Kiwis’ first Test against Great Britain at Eden Park.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone involved having international rugby league back on deck after so long,” said Maguire.

“There’s a real buzz among the players for what is such a significant occasion for the Kiwi jersey and for the game as a whole.

“We’ve been able to bring together a group of players who have been in tremendous form so far this season and they’re desperate to do well for their country.

“It’s a special thrill giving debuts to Dylan, Marata, Ronaldo and Moses. They really deserve this opportunity.”

Newly-appointed captain Jesse Bromwich is the team’s most experienced player as he eyes his 30th Test match while Foran will play his 23rd since his debut in 2009.

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

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v MATE M’A TONGA

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

5.20pm, Saturday, June 25, 2022

 

1 JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters 815
2 RONALDO MULITALO Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
3 MARATA NIUKORE Parramatta Eels
4 PETA HIKU North Queensland Cowboys 781
5 JORDAN RAPANA Canberra Raiders 798
6 DYLAN BROWN Parramatta Eels
7 JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm 819
8 JESSE BROMWICH (c) Melbourne Storm 775
9 BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm 816
10 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS Penrith Panthers 801
11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I Parramatta Eels 817
12 KENNY BROMWICH Melbourne Storm 796
13 JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders 800
14 KIERAN FORAN Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 757
15 MOSES LEOTA Penrith Panthers
16 NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA Melbourne Storm 804
17 BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 818
18 JORDAN RIKI Brisbane Broncos
19 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK Vodafone Warriors 794
20 TE MAIRE MARTIN Brisbane Broncos 802
21 SCOTT SORENSEN Penrith Panthers
22 ERIN CLARK Gold Coast Titans
23 KEN MAUMALO Wests Tigers 810
24 GRIFFIN NEAME North Queensland Cowboys

 

 

June 21, 2022 – Seasoned front rower Jesse Bromwich has been appointed captain for the Kiwis’ mid-season Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday (5.20pm kick-off).

Head coach Michael Maguire made the announcement to the squad after the players came into camp on Monday night.

Now 33, Bromwich is comfortably the most experienced international in the current squad with 29 Tests since his debut in 2012.

“It’s a tribute to Jesse and the work he has done that has seen him earn respect as a true leader with Melbourne,” said Maguire.

“He’s again co-captain for the Storm this season which speaks volumes for the regard he’s held in at such a great club.”

Bromwich is in his 13th and final season with the Storm after signing with the new Redcliffe Dolphins franchise from 2023.

Since making his debut in 2010, the Manurewa Marlins junior has played 284 NRL matches and is on track to join the 300 club early next season.

After his rookie season Bromwich quickly established himself as one of the game’s foremost props, a first-choice selection for both club and country.

He has underlined his durability by missing very few games throughout his career. In the past 11 seasons he has never played fewer than 19 matches in a campaign and then only because the 2020 season was shortened by the Covid pandemic.

June 15, 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has named a 25-man wider squad to travel home to Aotearoa to face Pacific rivals Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on June 25.

Eight of the squad are potential Kiwi debutants, including Ellerslie Eagles junior Ronaldo Mulitalo (Cronulla Sutherland) who leads the NRL with 20 line-breaks and Eels playmaker Dylan Brown who has six tries, seven try assists, five line break assists, nine line breaks and 46 tackle breaks in 13 games this season.

Other new faces are Panthers duo Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen, both instrumental in Penrith’s dominance over the last three seasons. Vodafone Warriors-bound Parramatta back rower Marata Niukore joins the fray, as does Gold Coast hooker Erin Clark.

Former Junior Kiwi teammates Griffin Neame (Cowboys) and Jordan Riki (Broncos) enter the Kiwis’ frame and Broncos fullback Te Maire Martin receives a recall after his impressive return to the NRL this season. The last of Martin’s four internationals was Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire’s first Test in charge against England in Denver four years ago.

Unsurprisingly, 2021 Dally M Team of the Year members James Fisher-Harris (Penrith) and Isaiah Papali’i (Parramatta) have cemented their spots in the squad. Tigers-bound Papali’i has averaged 155 metres a game to add to his five tries while Fisher-Harris consistently shows why he’s one of the best front-rowers in the game.

The versatile Joey Manu (Sydney Roosters) is named alongside Melbourne’s cohort of playmakers, Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny.

Leading the NRL with 964 post-contact metres, Canberra forward Joseph Tapine has been a season standout. He joins Canberra teammate Jordan Rapana and in-form Cowboys centre Peta Hiku who returns to the Kiwi squad after last touring in 2018.

“I know how much the black and white jersey means to these players,” said Maguire.

“To finally return home after two years and play for your country in front of fans and whānau, this Test will be special.

“This squad has an exciting mix of fresh talent and experienced Kiwis having some of their best seasons. We have a strong spine of leaders throughout the group that play a crucial role in the team, especially with these new boys coming through.

“Some difficult decisions have had to be made, but it’s a positive sign of our depth in certain positions. With the quality of Kiwi talent on display throughout the NRL, we are in a strong place as we look to build a solid foundation ahead of the Rugby League World Cup come October.”

 

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

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

27 May 2022

The mighty Black and White is back.

To celebrate, NZRL is gifting the ultimate die-hard NZ fan + nine of their friends and whānau with a corporate table at the June 25th NZ v Tonga Test Double Header at Mt Smart Stadium.

 

Seem like a bit of you? Here’s how to enter:

Show us you’re the loudest and proudest New Zealand supporter there is.

Be as creative or detailed as you like; send us a video, photos or stories; we want to see it all.

 

How to enter:

Comment on our post who you’d take.

Post your entry or direct message us on NZRL socials – @nzrugbyleague (Insta) or @nzkiwis (FB).

Or

Email your entry to media@nzrl.co.nz

 

The competition closes Thursday 9th June.

 

The Prize

  • Enjoy the NZ v Tonga doubleheader from Mt Smart’s East Lounge.
  • A three-course plated meal (set entrée, alternate drop main, set dessert) and post-match supper.
  • Pre and post match lounge entertainment and giveaways
  • Additional beverages are available via a cash bar or pre-arranged bar tab.
  • Travel and accommodation not included.

 

Celebrate the return of rugby league to Aotearoa in style with a prize valued at nearly $3000.

Kiwi and Kiwi Ferns fans, show us you’re the loudest and proudest there is. It’s been too long, we’ve missed you.

 

 

27 May 2022

as seen on nzherald.co.nz

Rugby league legends Jerry Seuseu and Ali Lauiti’iti are tackling mental health in young Māori and Pacific Islanders head-on.

The two ex-NRL stars are ambassadors for the New Zealand Rugby League Wellbeing Programme.

They travel the country talking at grassroots rugby league clubs to players, friends, coaches and anyone who wants to participate in the It Ain’t Weak To Speak campaign.

Seuseu told the Herald when he was playing professional rugby league for the Warriors, Kiwis and in the UK for Wigan, asking for help to deal with mental health issues was frowned upon.

“We were basically told to harden up and do your best,” Seuseu recalls.

“It wasn’t very fashionable to talk about mental health and people had to deal with it quietly. Fortunately for Ali and myself, we had a good Christian upbringing and that certainly helped us in our careers.

“That’s what it was like back then, but we have moved on and we encourage our young people to use their voices and be heard.

“Our statistics tell us mental health [challenges are] everywhere and our youth are suffering the most. It’s no weakness to reach out if you are struggling and not in a good space.”

Having hung up their playing boots a few years ago, Seuseu and Lauiti’iti want to give back to the community that supported them throughout their long and illustrious careers. They both still live in and around South Auckland.

Seuseu played 209 matches – 37 for Counties-Manukau (1995-1996), 132 for the Warriors (1997-2004) and 40 in the UK Super League for the Wigan Warriors (2005-2006). He also represented Samoa four times in 2000 and the Kiwis 11 times, from 2001-2004.

Lauiti’iti was one of the most gifted players to ever pull on a Warriors or New Zealand rugby league jersey, because of his athleticism and skills.

He was a 115-game Warrior from 1998-2003, played 200 games for UK Super League club Leeds from 2004-2011 and also for Wakefield Trinity in 94 matches from 2012-2015.

Seuseu said communities face their own unique dilemmas but youth issues are not dissimilar around the motu (nation).

“We are finding that wherever we go to speak with youth, each area has its own unique issues.

“Our team spoke in Invercargill and the group wanted to talk about alcohol and driving, because they had a tragedy a few weeks prior involving teenagers,” Seuseu said.

“There was a group of 60 and all of them knew those involved and were trying to come to terms with the accident and make sense of their loss.

“We also spoke with a group from Manurewa and people told us they might be a difficult group. But we gave them the opportunity and they were real conversant on how they felt.”

Seuseu said giving teenagers coping strategies and mechanisms was a big part of the programme, and it was rewarding work.

“We get a lot out of doing this as well,” Seuseu said.

The NZRL and the Warriors are working alongside Le Va, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) whose vision is to support whānau and communities for better health and wellbeing outcomes.

“In Auckland, the youth we speak to are more worried about their identity, social media and what is affecting them,” Seuseu said.

“Sometimes the conversations with youth are awkward but they have to be had.

“Ali and I try to talk with youth in a safe and engaging way, sometimes we use our PI humour, and that always brings a laugh,” Seuseu said.

Lauiti’iti said talking with youth about suicide was confronting but had to be discussed for the sake of our young people.

“We try to equip our youth with tools to deal with suicide, and although it is hard and confronting we have to speak about it,” Lauiti’iti said.

“But it’s also having the courage to step out and help out if you see one of your mates, or you, are not in the right space.”

In Auckland, 80 per cent of league players are Māori or Pasifika. Outside of Tāmaki Makaurau, 80 per cent of rugby league players are Māori.

 

WHERE TO GET HELP

If it is an emergency and you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

 

For counselling and support:

Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: Call 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Need to talk? Call or text 1737

Depression helpline: Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202

For children and young people:

Youthline: Call 0800 376 633 or text 234

What’s Up: Call 0800 942 8787 (11am to 11pm) or webchat (11am to 10.30pm)

The Lowdown: Text 5626 or webchat

For help with specific issues:

Alcohol and Drug Helpline: Call 0800 787 797

Anxiety Helpline: Call 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)

OutLine: Call 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) (6pm-9pm)

Safe to talk (sexual harm): Call 0800 044 334 or text 4334

All services are free and available 24/7 unless otherwise specified.

For more information and support, talk to your local doctor, hauora, community mental health team, or counselling service. The Mental Health Foundation has more helplines and service contacts on its website.

26 May 2022

as seen on NRL.com

A decade after savouring premiership glory with Manly as a couple of fresh-faced youngsters, Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans will share another significant moment at AAMI Park on Thursday when the resilient and respected ‘Foz’ plays his 250th NRL game.

Foran was 21 and Cherry-Evans 22 when they teamed up in the halves to take the Sea Eagles to grand final glory in 2011, the start of a five-year partnership that was split when the Kiwi five-eighth headed to the Eels in 2016.

Stints at the Warriors (2017) and Bulldogs (2018-20) followed before Foran found his way ‘home’ to Brookvale last season to reunite with Cherry-Evans, who has gone on to become Sea Eagles royalty with 272 games in maroon and white.

Since that emotional night at ANZ Stadium in 2011, Foran has played 191 games, his career derailed by serious shoulder, hamstring, back and ankle injuries, while DCE has added 245 games to his tally.

Foran freely admits there were times he feared he’d never make it anywhere near 250 games, but his love for the game and the contest kept him going.

“I’ve had plenty of tough spots and a number of times I wondered whether I’d be able to keep playing so it’s always nice to pick yourself up and be able to keep going and that is something I’ve prided myself on,” Foran said.

“I’m very fortunate that I’m able to play this great game every single week and I want to play for as long as I can.

“The mental and physical challenges are both as tough as one another and at times go hand in hand. I’m just glad I have been able to learn along the way and build plenty of resilience.

“Deep down I love rugby league. I enjoy the competitive side and I enjoy trying to push my body as hard as I can and for as long as I can, and at the end of the day if you’ve got that will then you’re able to keep going.”

Given his injury history and the fact he was closing in on his 31st birthday, many questioned the wisdom of Manly taking a punt on Foran in 2021.

When the dust had settled on the Sea Eagles’ season, the reward had far outweighed the risk, a fully fit Foran producing 11 try assists and 18 line break assists in 25 matches – the first time since 2014 he had played more than 20 games in a season.

“I never thought I would come back to Manly after my first stint here and then being able to come back and get the opportunity to play here for the last couple of years has been a dream come true,” Foran said.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to play my 250th in these colours – it means a lot to me.”

In a week where the season-ending injury to superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic has dominated the headlines and his own headspace, Cherry-Evans was happy to take time out to pay tribute to milestone man Foran.

“As a mate, and thinking about the journey he has been on, I can’t wait to be out there and support him this week and hopefully get a win,” Cherry-Evans said.

“As a team-mate you want to make sure you go out and make these milestones a special night for them.

DCE talks Turbo injury and Foran’s milestone,

“It’s a night Kieran and his family will never forget and we do have that added motivation to go out there and play better for someone who is loved at this club.

“We are really clear on what’s coming down there [in Melbourne] this week.

“Craig Bellamy will have his team bouncing off walls ready to get into us but as much as we have acknowledged where their season is at and what they’ll be like I feel like we’ll be a little bit more desperate and emotionally we’ve got a bit more to play on this weekend – one of our most loved team-mates playing his 250th.”

Apart from the motivation to rip in for Foran, there’s another much loved Manly man who’ll have his team-mates walking taller on Thursday night and that’s Jorge Taufua.

The 30-year-old winger is set to play his first NRL game since suffering a ruptured Achilles in round 17 of the 2020 season and Cherry-Evans said the return of the renowned hitman will lift spirits after a tough week.

“Jorge’s return is something the boys will really get around. He’s had a hell of a story himself to come back from injury after injury,” Cherry-Evans said.

“He’s my longest team-mate and we’ve built up a great relationship.

“Just the way he goes about his business – he never asks for help, never wants anyone’s handouts or freebies, he’s just someone who consistently works hard and wants to help the team out where he can.

“To do an Achilles at that age is tough but he has worked so hard and done a fantastic job to get his body right.”

As if Manly needed any added motivation to try and take down old foe Melbourne, they have it in spades with Foran and Taufua – two resilient and respected warriors who don’t the meaning of the word quit.

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.

 

21 April 2022

New Zealand Rugby League is mourning the passing of Kiwi #346 and former Auckland fullback Roy Moore, who toured Australia in 1952, and Great Britain and France with the 1955-56 Kiwis, representing his country in five Tests.

The Mount Albert goalkicker played four tour matches in Australia in ’52, slotting a total of 20 goals against Newcastle, Central Queensland, Central West Queensland and Toowoomba. Fellow Aucklander – and future New Zealand Team of the Century fullback – Des White occupied the custodian role for the Tests.

The following season, Moore was one of several Aucklanders who guested for the American All-Stars team during their 1953 tour Down Under.

With White unavailable, Moore was called up to the Test team for the two matches against the touring French side in 1955. Moore scored all New Zealand’s points on debut via a try and three goals, but the visitors won the opening Test 19-9 at Carlaw Park. He kicked another two goals as the Kiwis squared the series with an 11-6 victory at the same venue.

Chosen as one of two fullbacks (with Otahuhu’s Dick Haggie) for the Kiwis’ Northern Hemisphere tour later that year, Moore featured in the 25-6 first-Test loss to Great Britain in Manchester. He also played in the second and third Tests against France.

Moore turned out in another 10 tour games in England and France, scoring 47 points from three tries and 19 goals.

A regular at ex-Kiwi reunions in recent years, Moore will be dearly missed by the local rugby league community. NZRL extends its sincere condolences to his family and friends.

 

Not much more than a month after mourning the death of Pasifika trailblazer Olsen Filipaina, rugby league has lost the original Polynesian pioneer ex-Kiwi prop Oscar Danielson, who has passed away in Wollongong aged 83.

Apia-born Danielson, one of New Zealand’s original exports to what was then known as the New South Wales Rugby League premiership, was the first Samoa-born player to play in the competition.

He signed with the Newtown Jets for the 1970 season, the same year fellow Kiwi front rower Bill Noonan started his 196-game Sydney premiership career with Canterbury Bankstown.

Other Kiwis followed soon after, notably Eddie Heatley (North Sydney), Bernie Lowther (Canterbury Bankstown) and Henry Tatana (Canterbury Bankstown), who all commanded interest from Sydney clubs in the wake of the Kiwis’ all-conquering deeds in 1971.

In making the move the players forfeited their chances of playing international rugby league, the signing clubs paying the New Zealand Rugby League a transfer fee for the player.

During those times numerous Kiwis signed to play in the lower grades in Sydney or with New South Wales country or Queensland clubs, among them Ron Ackland, Bruce Castle, Eddie Moore, Jock Butterfield, Bill Snowden, Mel Cooke, Graham Kennedy, Bill Deacon, Bill Burgoyne, Doug Gailey and Robert Orchard.

Danielson made 47 appearances and scored four tries for Newtown from 1970-1972 before becoming player-coach with the Corrimal Cougars in Wollongong in 1973, guiding the club to premiership victory the following year.

A key player for Marist in the 1960s, Danielson played for Auckland and also for New Zealand Māori before making his Test debut as Kiwi #454 in 1967 and going on to represent New Zealand at the 1968 Rugby League World Cup.

Legendary coach Harry Bath brought the ball-playing prop Danielson to Newtown, signing him in an Auckland hotel bar.

The rugby league community in New Zealand and worldwide is mourning the loss of one of the Kiwis’ greatest and most unique players, a Pasifika and Māori sporting icon and a beloved character, following the passing of Olsen Filipaina, aged 64.

Filipaina was admitted to hospital with a stomach infection on January 13, exacerbating a long-standing kidney problem. He died on February 10th in Sydney, surrounded by family.

‘The Big O’ scored 108 points in 29 Tests for the Kiwis from 1977-86 and was inducted as a NZRL Legend of League in 2007. But the bare figures and accolades tell only a small part of the blockbusting, trail-blazing centre/five-eighth’s story

Filipaina’s career is framed by his world-beating performances for New Zealand against Great Britain in 1984 and Australia in 1985, but his decade on the international stage is strewn with crowd-pleasing highlights. Meanwhile, idol status at grassroots club level with a pair of Hawks outfits – Auckland’s Mangere East and Ryde-Eastwood in Sydney – bookended eight seasons in the NSWRL premiership, where his brilliance flashed brightly but infrequently, with crusty Australian coaches unable to effectively harness and utilise his dynamic talents.

Born in Kaikohe to a Samoan father and Māori (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hāmoa) mother, Olsen moved to South Auckland with his family as a young boy and rose through fledgling Mangere East’s ranks. An inspired spectator in 1971 as New Zealand powered to a stunning 24-3 victory over Australia at a muddy Carlaw Park, a ground he would dominate on countless occasions over the next 15 years, Filipaina captained the Schoolboy Kiwis the following season.

Filipaina’s explosive performances and prolific tryscoring for Mangere East garnered a debut for Auckland in 1976. A Kiwis call-up quickly followed – just a month after his 20th birthday – at the 1977 World Cup, selected at centre for the matches against Australia and Great Britain, as well as featuring in Auckland’s remarkable ‘Grand Slam’ achievement, where the provincial side beat Australia, Great Britain and France in the space of 17 days.

On a 1978 tour of Australia that produced few highlights, Filipaina’s blistering form was a vivid silver lining. He starred against the incomparable centre pairing of Steve Rogers and Mick Cronin, before scoring three tries in the Kiwis’ 30-21 victory in their maiden Test match against Papua New Guinea at Port Moresby. The tyro was named New Zealand’s Player of the Year.

Filipaina’s genius lit up the 1979 season, scoring a staggering 261 points for Mangere East (25 tries, 93 goals), nine tries in 10 games for Auckland, and a try and five goals in the Kiwis’ series loss to the touring Great Britain Lions.

Boasting remarkable pace and agility for a player with such an imposing frame, a trademark bump that rebuffed myriad defenders and a crafty kitbag of skills – included a phenomenal penchant for a chip-and-regather – Filipaina was an attacking freak. Stadium-shaking defence somewhat belied his gentle, shy nature but completed the picture of one of the era’s great entertainers and game-breakers.

Balmain belatedly lured Filipaina across the Tasman in 1980. He spent five seasons with the Tigers, moved to Eastern Suburbs for a one-year stint in 1985 and played two seasons at North Sydney. Filipaina played 109 first-grade games (scoring 21 tries and 128 goals) but was regularly relegated to reserve grade, a convenient scapegoat for under-pressure and impatient coaches ill-equipped to let his talents flourish.

Injury kept Filipaina out of the 1983 Test series against Australia, which included a famous Kiwis upset at Brisbane’s Lang Park. Despite being stuck in reserve grade at Balmain for several weeks midway through 1984, New Zealand coach Graham Lowe had no hesitation in picking Filipaina for the home series against Great Britain. Playing five-eighth at Test level for the first time, the 27-year-old terrorised the Lions. His thundering runs, deft ball-playing and the tourists’ tactic of double- and triple-teaming the leviathan in the No.6 jersey opened up repeated opportunities for his three-quarters Fred Ah Kuoi, James Leuluai, Dean Bell and Dane O’Hara, who between them scored 10 of the Kiwis’ 12 tries in a 3-0 whitewash. Filipaina added 12 goals and was man-of-the-match in the third Test.

Another stint in reserve grade with the Roosters in 1985 set the scene for Filipaina’s finest hour. He was man-of-the-match in the first two Tests against Australia in Sydney and Auckland – both won by the Kangaroos courtesy of last-gasp John Ribot tries – including a memorable try-assist and four-pointer of his own in the series opener.

Fourteen years after witnessing the Kiwis’ demolition of Australia first-hand as a 14-year-old at Carlaw Park, Filipaina led a drought-breaking – and equally emphatic and iconic – defeat of the green-and-golds at the same venue in the third Test of the ’85 rubber. He produced two audacious chip-and-chase efforts in the same set in the lead-up to Clayton Friend’s opening try and comprehensively outplayed opposite number and Australian captain Wally Lewis, widely regarded as the world’s best player, for the third straight game in an 18-0 thumping.

Man-of-the-series honours were a mere formality for the moustachioed cult hero.

“Olsen is the player who sticks out in my mind,” Lowe recalled for a 1992 documentary. “Wally has spoken to me about it since and said everywhere he looked there was just the big figure of Olsen pounding through – he just inspired everybody.”  

Filipaina toured Britain and France with the Kiwis at the end of that season, playing in all five Tests and captaining New Zealand in the second Test at Wigan’s Central Park in Mark Graham’s absence. His decorated tenure in the black-and-white jersey concluded with the disappointing series loss in Australia in 1986, which saw him become only the second New Zealander to pass a century of points in Tests after Des White.

A barnstorming opening try in the second Test at the SCG – steamrolling a defender before accepting a return offload from Graham to dive over – was vintage Olsen.

Filipaina captained Western Samoa at the 1988 Pacific Cup, where his side lost the Apia-hosted final narrowly to New Zealand Māori, and was named Sportsman of the Tournament.

Supplementing his football income with early-morning runs on the back of a rubbish truck, Filipaina was affectionately called ‘The Galloping Garbo’ – and the humble rugby league wizard celebrated in one more magnificent on-field success away from the spotlight. The 33-year-old, teaming up with former Kiwis halves partner Friend, captained Ryde-Eastwood to Grand Final glory in the inaugural Metropolitan Cup competition in 1990.

Filipaina’s mythical status among rugby league diehards has only gathered momentum as the years and decades since his retirement have passed. But he received widespread and richly-deserved recognition in 2020 via the release of Patrick Skene’s captivating, thought-provoking and heart-warming biography, The Big O: The Life and Times of Olsen Filipaina, Pacific Revolution Pioneer. His importance locally was underlined last year when Auckland Rugby League named its newly-established 20s competition the Olsen Filipaina Cup.

The outpouring of support and love from every corner of the rugby league community during his recent health battle reflected the person – more so than the player – Olsen was.

New Zealand Rugby League extends its deepest sympathies to Olsen’s family, friends and legion of fans as they farewell a truly extraordinary individual.

RIP. Arohanui. Alofa telē.

Written by Will Evans on behalf of New Zealand Rugby League.

February 9, 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce key partner and principal sponsor of the Kiwis, Pirtek, has extended its partnership with NZRL for another four years.

A market leader in the provision of on-site hydraulic and industrial hose and fitting products and services, Pirtek’s partnership with NZRL is set to span well over a decade, with Pirtek being one of the most recognisable supporters of rugby league across the Tasman.

This extension means Pirtek will have been principal sponsors of the Kiwis through five World Cup tournaments, including this year’s rescheduled World Cup in England and the 2025 France Rugby League World Cup.

NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this partnership extension is a special milestone.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been no international rugby league for over two years, yet Pirtek’s support for our Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns has never wavered.

“Despite Covid disrupted seasons, Pirtek’s franchise network has provided invaluable support for our grassroots and inaugural women’s and 20’s competitions, coupled with the involvement in our community activations across the country to encourage more tamariki to get involved in rugby league.

“Our partnership is special. The entire team at Pirtek have been loyal members of our NZRL whānau for well over a decade. They have been front and centre of our greatest international achievements and have shown invaluable support throughout our more challenging times,” Peters adds.

“I look forward to the team at Pirtek remaining integral members of the NZRL whānau as we enter an exciting new era of rugby league.”

Chris Bourke, CEO Pirtek, says, “Once again our national Pirtek team is excited about our re-signing as Principal Sponsor of NZRL. We, like all Rugby League fans, are looking forward to the return of international matches in 2022 and beyond.

Although the past couple of years have been a challenge for all concerned we have worked closely with NZRL and their team to provide appropriate support where practical.

Sponsorships and partnerships like ours involve loyalty, just like we appreciate from our long term customers throughout New Zealand.

We all look forward to working closely with NZRL over the next term of our partnership”.

14 December 2021

Jahrome Hughes (Kiwi #819) has been named the 2021 Kiwis Player of the Year, Isaiah Papali’i (Kiwi #817) took home Young Kiwi Player of the Year, while James Fisher-Harris (Kiwi #801) was awarded the inaugural NZRL People’s Choice Award.

Hughes was a standout for Melbourne, who won a record-tying 19 games in a row thanks to the Kiwi’s leadership and consistency in the halves. Hughes ended the 2021 NRL season with nine tries, 19 try assists and 13 line-break assists, cementing his status as one of the competition’s premier players.

Kiwis Head Coach Michael Maguire says the Player of the Year award was no easy decision.

“Kiwi boys across the competition have led their teams to new heights in 2021; the likes of Fisher-Harris, Brandon Smith, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and Joey Manu were all standouts for their clubs. However, Jahrome’s growth into a leader at the Storm saw him deserving of this year’s accolade.

“Jahrome’s consistency in the spine was evident; he led his team to a record win streak and saw them through to the semi-final. His improvement over the last couple of years has been exceptional, and his game management and kicking game reached a new level in 2021.

“He has solidified himself as one of the game’s best halves and is well-deserving of the Kiwis Player of the Year title,” Maguire concludes.

Isaiah Papali’i (Kiwi #817) was awarded the 2021 Young Kiwi Player of the Year after his breakout season with Parramatta, making 109 tackle breaks and 809 tackles for the year. The young Kiwi’s trophy cabinet for 2021 also includes the VB Hardest Working Player of the Year and Dally M Back Rower of the Year.

Head Coach Maguire says, “From the first time I had Isaiah in the Kiwis squad, to now, he’s grown into one of the game’s most dangerous back-rowers.

“His performance this year stood out; he really stepped up at Paramatta, and he’s well-deserving of the accolades he’s received in 2021.”

Maguire adds, “What’s exciting about his growth is that Isaiah is still young, he’s got years of footy left in him, and he’s well on track to being one of New Zealand’s best players.”

This year, NZRL also introduced the inaugural People’s Choice Award, where fans had the chance to vote for their best Kiwi player of the 2021 season.

It was a tight race to the finish between Hughes, Smith and Fisher-Harris, but a late surge by voters saw the Penrith stalwart, James Fisher-Harris take home the title.

Fisher-Harris had arguably his best season, earning 154 metres a game, averaging 100 post-contact metres in the lead up to his maiden NRL Premiership and second Dally M Prop of the Year accolade.

Head Coach Maguire says, “I know how competitive these awards are, so there’s no surprise it was a tight race to the finish. James is extremely deserving of this; he had an exceptional season, he’s the best prop in the game and an asset to our Kiwis squad.”

Maguire adds, “This year, we have watched many Kiwi players play their best seasons. The depth we are seeing, plus the calibre of football on display is exciting. I’m looking forward to a busy 2022 International season and seeing these boys come together for their country once again.”

07 October 2021

New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup Wider Squad.

Despite the absence of international football over the last two years, 2022 will be the busiest international calendar in recent time, as NZRL work towards a June Pacific Test and Trans-Tasman clash, all before the October 2022 World Cup campaign.

After his impressive club season, Premiership-winning Panther and Dally M Prop of the Year, James Fisher-Harris unsurprisingly made the list, as did Dally M Backrower of the Year and Eels’ golden buy, Isaiah Papali’i. Papali’i is joined by fellow Parramatta playmakers Dylan Brown and Marata Niukore.

Star Rooster’s centre Joey Manu had one of his best seasons with 12 line breaks, ten tries and 141 metres per game. He joins veteran Kiwi prop and Roosters teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who made 1280 post-contact metres in 23 appearances for 2021.

Melbourne’s Reimis Smith locked in his selection with 14 tries this year, as he joins a plethora of Kiwi Storm talent, including standout half Jahrome Hughes, who was instrumental in a well-oiled Melbourne side that ran rampant throughout 2021.

Corey Harawira-Naera returns after a dominant performance in his first full season at Canberra, and departing Shark Shaun Johnson is joined by Cronulla teammates Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Briton Nikora.

Fresh names to join the frame include Bronco’s back-rower and former Junior Kiwis captain Jordan Riki, who enters the squad after a solid debut season. Titan’s Hooker and former Manurewa Marlin Erin Clark gets the call up alongside dynamic youngster Josh Schuster and Waikato born Morgan Harper after a breakthrough seasons with Manly.

“We have listed this wider squad, so players are aware that the upcoming preseason and following season creates an enormous opportunity for them and this Kiwis team”, says Head Coach Michael Maguire.

“International football has been a challenge,” Maguire adds. “But the player’s enthusiasm to represent their country is as strong as ever; there’s no question as to how much this jersey means to them, and their eagerness to play has never wavered. The senior players set a strong foundation and have their eyes focused on the 2022 World Cup.”

The 2021 season saw many Kiwi eligible players stamp their mark on the NRL, encouraging selectors to name a ‘Notable Players’ list that Head Coach Maguire has deemed “the future of the Kiwis team.”

“With the football that our younger players have played, we have created a list of players that, with a little more experience, could be the future of this team,” says Maguire.

“I am sure we will unearth some new Kiwi talent in the next 12 months, and we may even uncover more current names not listed. Nevertheless, this depth is encouraging.

“This year, we have watched many New Zealand players have their best seasons yet. Now with that experience, coupled with the new generation of talent coming through – it is an exciting time to be a Kiwi.”

21 September 2021

Kiwi #749, Issac Luke is saying goodbye to rugby league after 43 tests, 5 tries and 22 goals for his country, including one historic 08 World Cup and two Four Nations triumphs, forever cementing him a New Zealand Rugby League great.

“My dream was to always be a Kiwis player. The All Blacks are the pinnacle in New Zealand as it was always rugby throughout school, but I was told I couldn’t play 1st XV because I played too much like a league player, so I bled Black and White well before I put it on.”

Issac Luke

Luke decided to hang up his boots, after a career where he achieved almost everything possible.

League has been his entire life since he was a teenager when he left Taranaki to chase his NRL dreams in Sydney.

“My goal was to give kids from where I came from pathways,” Luke tells the Herald. “I wasn’t big, or tall, but I had a bit of mongrel and skill.

“For someone from Hawera, even getting one [NRL] game was special. So getting to 286 and 43 tests, I am pretty content with what I have done.”

“Rugby league is all about playing for pride. I took Taranaki everywhere with me, the maunga often gave me energy. For me it was all about playing for your people, if I make it, Taranaki makes it, when I made the Kiwis, they made the Kiwis.”

“With the Kiwis it’s all about leaving the jersey in a better place and I believe I did that.”

Issac Luke
Howie Tamati and Issac Luke – 2014

Luke was a unique talent.

He had rough edges but was a wonderful player. Luke is arguably the best Kiwis hooker in history (Brandon Smith may take that mantle, but not yet) and was a dominant No 9 in the NRL.

He was a fearless competitor, who helped to change the sport with his dummy half running game, and at times even managed to overshadow Cameron Smith at his peak.

“I was fortunate to coach Issac at both club and at international level. He was a player that loved playing for the Kiwis as he was a very proud New Zealander. He always represented his family and country with great passion and will retire as one of the greats to wear the Black & White. Issac was also a great club man that helped South Sydney to their 21st GF win after 43yrs. 

“I will always remember Issac for his speed and deception around the ruck terrorising an opposition.”

Kiwis Head Coach, Michael Maguire

He was part of a golden period for the Kiwis, with the 2008 World Cup victory and the 2010 and 2014 Four Nations triumphs. Luke was also a key figure in the Rabbitohs revival, which culminated in the 2014 grand final win, and he scored 50 tries and kicked 205 goals across his NRL career.

2014 Four Nations

“If I was being picky, there are two things I wanted to achieve; get that milestone of 300 and go to the Dally M’s and bring something home,” says the 34-year-old.

“But I won an NRL premiership, a World Club Challenge, the NRL Nines, the Four Nations and a World Cup. I think I achieved enough.”

Luke rates Cameron Smith as his toughest foe and was proud to be recognised as the international hooker of the year (ahead of Smith) in 2013.

Jonathan Thurston was the toughest competitor – “by a country mile” – and Sam Burgess his best teammate.

“It was uncanny, from the first game I looked at him and he just knew what I was going to do,” says Luke. “From then on, every time I moved, he moved.”

Luke made his debut in 2007 against the Melbourne Storm.

“They got a tip during the week, ‘a young fella named Issac Luke was going to be debuting – he can’t tackle so run at him’. They sent all their forwards at me; I put Jeff Lima on his arse twice and Ben Cross once.”

Luke was Souths’ first choice rake before his 20th birthday and had some stunning seasons, including the nine-try 2010 campaign. The Rabbitohs reached consecutive preliminary finals in 2012 and 2013, before the 2014 breakthrough, though Luke was infamously suspended from the decider.

“When I heard ‘guilty’ my focus went on helping Api [Koroisau] get ready,” says Luke. “But I rang my dad and once I heard his voice I broke down. That was what we always dreamed about, one of his kids, or even someone from Taranaki….so to make it that far and not get to play was hard.

“It was tough, definitely tough. People even say today, I can’t believe you missed out on the grand final. But we won, so I’m all good with that.”

Luke will never forget the 2008 World Cup final, when the Kiwis shocked Australia, who had Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Smith, 34-20 at Suncorp Stadium.

He says it’s one of his favourite memories in the Black and White jersey.

“In 2005 I was playing Junior Kiwis with Sam Rapira, Greg Eastwood and Sika Manu and that night we were all the [interchange] bench,” says Luke. “I was 21 and we beat possibly the best Kangaroos team they have ever assembled.”

2005 Junior Kiwis

The 2014 Four Nations campaign was also special, as was captaining the Kiwis in 2015 and 2018.

That 2018 season – especially the early streak – and the haka for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at the Dally M awards are his favourite Warriors memories.

Luke will stay close to the game in retirement, especially mentoring his kids.

His eldest son Adaquix (14) is a fullback at the Broncos academy, while Cruz (13) is with the Panthers and daughter Ava (11) has gained a league scholarship to Marsden State High, south of Brisbane. Frankie (5) and Remi (3) might be future prospects.

“I’ll be in that space where I can help, coach my kids or be a part of a team that needs my knowledge,” says Luke, who is happily settled in Brisbane, where his wife’s family are based.

Luke will always be a special story, from an unlikely background to the top of his sport.

“When I was growing up I had a lot of mates who were so talented but they were ‘them’, smoking in the in-goal, then get on the field and be man of the match,” says Luke. “What brought me to where I am is that I didn’t want to be like them…I pushed myself in different areas.

“My Dad always told me when I was little it’s either you or them…that still rings in my ears. Sometimes I would get run over but I would get back up and go looking for you.”

Issac Luke

Rabbitohs (2007-2015) – 188 NRL games
Warriors (2016-2019) – 83 NRL games
Dragons (2020) – 3 NRL games
Broncos (2020) – 12 NRL games

NRL record: 286 games, 50 tries, 205 goals.

Kiwis debut: v Australia, 2008.
Kiwis record: 43 tests, 5 tries, 22 goals

“I’m happy to be a part of this Kiwis family forever”

Issac Luke

Adapted from Michael Burgess’ NZ Herald feature piece

27 July 2021

Kiwi #779 and Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was yesterday granted an immediate release from his club contract, sparking the end of a highly decorated rugby league career.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s last game for the Warriors was against the Penrith Panthers, where he had to depart with a concussion. He was set to return to play against the Wests Tigers this weekend before the decision was made to head home.

Tuivasa-Sheck was the only Warriors player to spend all of last season without his family. His commitment to the club went above and beyond. He played a significant role in holding the Warriors squad together throughout the pandemic. Sharing the announcement with his teammates on Monday, Tuivasa-Sheck said,  “It was tough holding it all back”.

“I’m pretty sure they were quite disappointed and although they’re supportive that I get to chase a new challenge and dream of mine, it was tough to hold back the tears.

“It’s a sad way to end my time at the club, especially when my last game was with a concussion and not being able to play in front of all our fans back at Mt Smart.

“It is a sad way to [end] but I’m just grateful to have the club supporting me along the way.”

Apia-born, Auckland-raised, Tuivasa-Sheck has had an amazing career in the Black and White jersey. Debuting at Kiwi #779, playing 20 test matches with 56 test points.

He became a schoolboy star in rugby league and union for Otahuhu College. Sydney Roosters recognised his talent and lured him across the Tasman at the end of 2011. Named in the 2012 NYC Team of the Year, the 19-year-old featured in the last six games of the Roosters’ NRL campaign. He represented the Junior Kiwis and was named NZRL’s Junior Player of the Year.

In the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, Tuivasa-Sheck became one of the main stars at the tournament. On debut, Tuivasa-Sheck scored a try on the flank against Samoa – the first of eight tries he scored at the tournament, a tally that included a dazzling double in the epic semi-final win over England.

Tuivasa-Sheck took over from retired club legend Anthony Minichiello as the Roosters’ fullback in 2015 and immediately assumed the No. 1 jersey in the Kiwis’ line-up, starring in their rousing 26-12 ANZAC Test triumph in Brisbane and all three Tests on the post-season tour of England. Setting new standards for metre-eating productivity, he also collected the Dally M fullback of the year award.

At just 23 years of age, he was incoming Warriors coach (and former Kiwis mentor) Stephen Kearney’s surprise choice to captain the club in 2017. But Tuivasa-Sheck responded by winning the first of three straight Warriors Player of the Year awards. He was a try-scorer in the last mid-season Anzac Test in Canberra before playing in all four of New Zealand’s RLWC matches and scoring three times to set a new mark for World Cup tries by a Kiwi (11), while also collecting NZRL’s Kiwis Player of the Year honour.

Tuivasa-Sheck led the Warriors to the finals after a seven-year absence in a phenomenal 2018 campaign, becoming the club’s first Dally M Medal winner – and just the third New Zealander (after Gary Freeman and Jason Taumalolo) to collect the prestigious honour as the premiership’s best and fairest.

While the Warriors slid down the NRL ladder, Tuivasa-Sheck’s performances in 2019 remained top-shelf. An absolute workhorse for his side, the skipper topped the competition for running metres and set a new NRL record for metres gained in a game (367), while still managing to produce his trademark game-breaking brilliance on a regular basis. He finished equal-fifth in the Dally M Medal count – first among players from teams that missed the finals.

‘RTS’ scored a try in the Kiwis’ mid-season win over Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium to take his Test tally to 14 in just 17 matches. Tuivasa-Sheck featured in New Zealand’s loss to Australia and both victories over Great Britain at the end of the year; he was particularly influential in the tough 12-8 win against the Lions at Eden Park, setting up the opening try for Jamayne Isaako with a breath-taking flick pass and coming up with several vital defensive plays in the tense dying stages.

A nominee in 2015, Tuivasa-Sheck’s excellence in the international arena was recognised via the 2019 RLIF Golden Boot award. The 28-year-old joined Hugh McGahan (1987), Stacey Jones (2002), Benji Marshall (2010), and Shaun Johnson (2014) as the only New Zealanders to collect the gong in its 28-year history, solidifying his status as an all-time Kiwis great.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s exceptional, inspirational and selfless role as the skipper of the Warriors’ Australia-based campaign in 2020 attracted universal admiration and a richly-deserved Dally M Captain of the Year award. 

Tuivasa-Sheck will switch to rugby union with the Auckland Blues for the next Super Rugby season and set his sights on playing for the All Blacks at the 2023 World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby League congratulates and extends their appreciation to Kiwi #779 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for an astonishing career with the New Zealand Kiwis. Wishing him all the best on his next journey and future achievements to come.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s key milestone achievements:

  • Dally M Winger Of The Year – 2013
  • RLIF Winger Of The Year – 2013
  • Dally M Fullback Of The Year – 2015, 2018
  • RLW Player of the Year – 2015
  • NZRL / Kiwis Player of the Year – 2017
  • Dally M Player Of The Year – 2018
  • IRL Golden Boot Winner – 2019
  • Dally M Captain of the Year – 2020

22 February 2021

The most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years have been crowned and four rugby league greats have been honoured in one of the most prestigious sporting lists.

7: STACEY JONES KIWI #665 – NGĀTI MANIAPOTO/NGĀPUHI

Dubbed The Little General during his standout career with the Warriors and the Kiwis, Jones was, according to broadcaster Dale Husband, “so popular he could have been Prime Minister”. Played 48 tests and 238 NRL games for the Warriors before turning to coaching. Ex-Warriors and Kiwis teammate Wairangi Koopu said Jones transformed both teams. “The small rarea bird flies up high in the kahikatea tree. That’s how you’d sum up Stacey Jones.”

9: BENJI MARSHALL KIWI #717 – NGĀI TUHOE

The star of the Kiwis’ only Rugby League World Cup winning team in 2008, Benji Marshall is about to enter his 19th NRL season, having played over 300 first grade games. Won a NRL title with Wests Tigers in 2005 when he produced an amazing flick pass in the grand final. Golden Boot winner in 2010 as international player of the year. “He could have played State of Origin, he definitely could have played for Australia, but he chose the black jersey over a Kangaroos jumper,” said ex-Kiwi Tony Kemp. “To me, that says everything. The guy’s an absolute legend.”

13: RUBEN WIKI KIWI #655 – NGĀPUHI

One of the most respected players in NZ Rugby League history and across the entire NRL scene, Wiki starred during 12 seasons with the Canberra Raiders, winning the 1994 premiership as a centre. Ended his 311-game career with three seasons as a Warriors prop. The most capped Kiwi with 55 tests and a NRL Hall of Famer. Former Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan said of Wiki: “He’s got conviction, he’s got resilience, he’s got power. He never knew the meaning of the word, ‘giving up’.’’

20: HONEY HIREME-SMILER KIWI FERN #62 – NGĀTI RAUKAWA/NGĀI HAUA/WAIKATO-TAINUI

Her 32 Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey includes four World Cups spanning 18 seasons. Putararu-born Hireme-Smiler was named World Cup MVP in 2013 and also appeared for the Black Ferns a year later at the 2014 Rugby World Cup, as well as starring in the Black Ferns sevens team. Former Warriors and Kiwis forward Wairangi Koopu claims Hireme’s ease at switching between the two codes earned her the nickname of “Honey Bill Williams”. 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.

Most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years

1. Lisa Carrington – Te Aitanga-A-Māhaki/Ngāti Porou (Canoeing)
2. Michael Campbell – Ngāti Ruanui/Ngāi Rauru (Golf)
3. Wynton Rufer – Ngāti Porou (Football)
4. Jason Wynyard – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Wood Chopping)
5. Pero Cameron – Ngāpuhi (Basketball)
6. Zinzan Brooke – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)
7. Stacey Jones – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)
8. Farah Palmer – Tainui/Ngāti Maniapoto (Rugby)
9. Benji Marshall – Ngāi Tuhoe (Rugby League)
10. Dame Noeline Taurua – Ngāpuhi (Netball)
11. Aaron Smith – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)
12. Portia Woodman – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)
13. Ruben Wiki – Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)
14. Trent Boult – Ngāi Tahu/Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Te Rangi (Cricket)
15. Eric Rush – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)
16. Winston Reid – Tainui/Te Arawa (Football)
17. Peter Martin – Te Arawa (Paralympics Athletics)
18. Leilani Joyce – Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Te Rangi/Tainui (Squash)
19. Suzie Bates – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket/Basketball)
20. Honey Hireme-Smiler – Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāi Haua/Waikato-Tainui (Rugby League/Rugby)
21. Nathan Nukunuku – Ngāti Porou (Softball)
22. Temepara Bailey – Ngāpuhi (Netball)
23. Shane Bond – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket)
24. Sarah Hirini – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)
25. Joelle King – Ngāti Porou (Squash)
26. Raelene Castle – Ngāpuhi (Sports Administrator)
27. Kayla Whitelock – Rangitāne (Hockey)
28. Cathy Millen – Ngāi Tuhoe (Power Lifting)
29. Cameron Leslie – Ngāpuhi (Paralympics Swimming/Wheelchair Rugby)
30. Shannon McIlroy – Ngāti Porou (Lawn Bowls)

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

While the NRL playoffs have no room for NZ Warriors this season, plenty of Kiwis remain in contention for the championship title on October 25.

More than 30 players of NZ heritage are scattered throughout the eight teams still standing.

Here are some to watch out for over the next four weeks:

James Fisher-Harris

The Northland-born prop has notched up 100 appearances for the Panthers and become a key contributor to a pack that has dominated the 2020 competition.

He finished among league leaders in post-contact metres (1347) and decoy runs (150), while finishing fourth in run metres (3659) and second in runs (394), just behind Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Fisher-Harris was the only forward in the top eight for that last category – the rest were fullbacks and wings.

With only half a dozen international caps to his name, the 24-year-old looms as a must-have selection for Michael Maguire’s Kiwis World Cup roster next year.

Corey Harawira-Naera

Another hailing from the Far North, Harawira-Naera was headed for the NRL wilderness, after he and then-Bulldogs teammate Jayden Okunbor lured schoolgirls to their Port Macquarie hotel room during the pre-season.

He found a new lease of life when he left the club mid-season and headed for the Aussie capital, hooking up with the Raiders.

The 25-year-old second rower has proved a valuable asset off the bench for last year’s beaten finalists and a ready-made successor to English star John Bateman, who has already signalled he’s not coming back next season.

Jahrome Hughes

The rise of Wellington-native Hughes has gone under the radar this year, due to all the drama in the NRL, but the 24-year-old has established himself as a premier halfback in the competition. 

After playing most of his career at fullback, Hughes switched to halfback to cater for the emerging Ryan Papenhuyzen late last year and hasn’t looked back. 

A recent NRL.com fan survey had Hughes as the equal second-best halfback this year, behind Nathn Cleary, while he beat the Panthers playmaker in the most improved category.

In just 16 games, he finished with 13 try assists, which was more than any Warriors player.

Hughes played three tests last year, although all his appearances were off the bench as a utility. 

Dylan Brown 

If the Eels are to make a run in the playoffs, young Northlander Brown will be at the forefront of their attack. 

Brown seemed unlikely to play any further role in Parramatta’s 2020 campaign, when he suffered a syndesmosis injury against South Sydney in September, but he’s recovered in time for the post-season.

The 19-year-old has stepped out of his shell this year and become the perfect sidekick for Mitchell Moses in the halves. 

Brown hasn’t represented NZ at international level, but with some top halves ending their careers, Maguire will pay close attention to the man who could lead the Kiwis for the next 15 years.

Jaxson Paulo

The North Shore-born wing has made the most of his opportunity, with injuries to the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ outside backs paving the way for Paulo’s NRL debut this season. 

He has played 10 games to date and scored two tries, although one of them was controversial, as his foot touched the sideline before grounding the ball. 

On the field, he’s averaged more than 100 metres and 1.5 tackle breaks per game.

Original Source – Newshub by Grant Chapman and Ben Francis

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.

Ever wondered how the Te Iwi Kiwi haka came about? Cultural Advisor Ora Kihi talks us through the meaning of the haka and why it has a special place in the hearts of all our Kiwis players, and their biggest supporters.

 

TE IWI KIWI HAKA WORDS

TUKUA TE KAWAU MARO

BATTLE FORMATION, PREPARE OF WAR,

 NGA KIWI O TE AO

A call to all Kiwis of the world

 TENA HUAKINA

Unleash the spirit within.

TENA POUA

Prepare the post for our house.

POU TUTURU

The Maori Pou, indigenous people    

RUURUU ANA

Let the earth shake and ground rumble.

POU TUUHONO

The Pou that links all cultures.    

TUMATAUENGA

The God of War

TE OPE TAUA

Who is this war party      

KO TE KAPA KIWI E

It is the Kiwi war party

TAU MAI TAKU MANA

I draw my power.        

NO TUAWHAKARERE

From the beginning of time

TAU MAI KO TE IHI

I draw my strength.      

NO OKU TUPUNA

From my ancestors.

HIINEI TAKU WHARE

Here stands my House.  

KIA TUPATO

Be careful

KEI MATE

For I will defend it        

HI HAA

The breath of LIFE.

Due to the COVID-19 international pandemic, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to inform that the Oceania Cup International Test matches scheduled for June between the Kiwis and Tonga Invitational XIII and the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa have been postponed.

We appreciate this is an unprecedented step being taken for international rugby league; however, due to the current travel restrictions, self-isolation requirements, and restrictions on mass gatherings, the decision has been made to cancel.

NZRL is in discussions with the APRLC (Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation) regarding potential postponement options and will continue to liaise with industry bodies, government agencies and playing groups to determine the best course of action going forward.

Greg Peters, NZRL CEO said these are unprecedented measures that had to be taken.

“With the recent announcement on mass gatherings and the unpredictability of this pandemic, the safety and well-being of our players, staff and supporters remain a priority. We are also very conscious of the current demand on some of our players due to the travel restrictions in place which we will be taking into full consideration going forward.

“Even if restrictions were to be lifted before the event date, it still is not feasible to undertake the work required now to deliver matches in June amid the current uncertainty. The best-case scenario is our calendar is postponed, depending on what the NRL season looks like the back end of the year, but of course, we cannot guarantee anything at this stage.

“We are in unfamiliar and unknown territory; collectively, we are all feeling the widespread impact of this pandemic but rest assured, we will be exploring every possible option.”

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

The New Zealand Kiwis have moved to number one in the International Rugby League world rankings which have been announced after the conclusion of the 2019 international programme.

The Kiwis have built on their 2018 victories over Australia and England and their recent successes against Great Britain and Tonga to take the number one position.

Tonga remain in fourth spot but their historic victory over the second-placed Kangaroos has meant that they close the gap on England who now sit in third place.

New Zealand coach, Michael Maguire said “This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition.

“The International Rugby League Oceania Cup is a fantastic development for the Kiwis and the nations in this region. It provides a meaningful competition and is a real focus for our international programme.”

Papua New Guinea is one of the big movers in both the men’s and women’s rankings. The men have been recognised for their progress in the past 12 months as they move from 10th to 6th place and in the women’s section, from 6th place to 4th.

Kumuls head coach, Michael Marum sees the rise up the rankings as a natural part of their journey saying: “The PNG Kumuls going from 10th spot to 6th spot is really good for us. We can only go higher with more international fixtures.”

Orchids coach, Bagelo Solien commented:

“Going up two spots from 6th to 4th is pleasing after two test matches and we can only get better from here. It is good for the Women’s game nationally and internationally”

Commenting on the latest rankings, International Rugby League chief executive officer, Nigel Wood said:

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their number one position. It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with 4 wins from their last 5 international games.

“Tonga has possibly been the story of the recent internationals and they deserve all the plaudits that they have received. They have certainly cemented their place as a genuine top four-nation and, along with other Pacific nations, throws the competition wide open for Rugby League World Cup 2021.”

Latest Rankings November 2019

Men      

  1. New Zealand +3
  2. Australia -1
  3. England – 1
  4. Tonga =
  5. Fiji =
  6. PNG +4
  7. Samoa =
  8. France -2
  9. Scotland -1
  10. Lebanon -1
  11. Greece =5
  12. Ireland =
  13. Italy +1
  14. Wales -3
  15. Serbia +4
  16. Malta +1
  17. Norway +1
  18. USA -3
  19. Poland +4
  20. Jamaica -7
  21. Hungary -1
  22. Czech Republic -3
  23. Cook Islands +5
  24. Turkey +7
  25. Netherlands -1
  26. Spain +4
  27. Canada -6
  28. Nigeria New
  29. Solomon Islands -2
  30. Sweden +10
  31. Germany +4
  32. Chile +1
  33. Ghana New
  34. Morocco +16
  35. Vanuatu -3
  36. South Africa =
  37. Russia – 8
  38. Cameroon New
  39. Ukraine -2
  40. Colombia +1
  41. Brazil +4
  42. Belgium =
  43. Denmark +4
  44. Bulgaria +4
  45. Latvia +4

 

Women

  1. Australia =
  2. New Zealand =
  3. England =
  4. Papua New Guinea +2
  5. Canada -1
  6. France -1
  7. Cook Islands -2
  8. Italy =
  9. Serbia New
  10. Fiji New
  11. Turkey New
  12. Samoa New
  13. Brazil New
  14. Lebanon -6

 

New Zealand Rugby League congratulates Kiwi #779, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, on winning the prestigious IRL Golden Boot Award for 2019.

The Otahuhu Leopards junior is now recognised as the best current player in international rugby league, beating fellow Kiwis teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tonga star (and former NZ Kiwi) Siosiua Taukeiaho.

Roger is no stranger to success, the 2017 Kiwis Player of the Year was awarded the Dally M Player of the Year and Fullback of the Year in 2018, he also received Warriors Player of the Year this season, making history as the first player to win the award across three successive years.

Roger debuted for the Kiwis back in 2013 and to date has scored an impressive 14 tries in 20 tests totalling 56 points.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving to receive such an accolade,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.

“Roger has always worn the Kiwis Jersey with pride and this is reflected in his on-field performances and by his impressive and evergrowing list of accolades.

“We talk about the Kiwi Way and he completely optimises this, he acts as a role model to so many Kiwi kids not only in New Zealand but abroad and his impact on our game and those who play it is monumental.

“It’s exciting we have players of this calibre wearing the Black and White jersey and inspiring the next generation of Kiwis to come. We are extremely proud of Roger and all that he’s achieved and we can’t thank him enough for his ongoing dedication and service to the Kiwis jersey,” Peters concludes.

“Receiving this Golden award is a huge honour,” says Sheck.

“Thank you to all those who voted, the players in the shortlist are all world-class and I’m very honoured to have been considered alongside them.

“Putting on the Black and White jersey and representing my country is always a privilege and winning this Golden Boot award is a huge honour. Thank you to the IRL, NZRL and of course my family as without their love and support none of this would be possible. This year’s campaign has been one to remember, and although being away from my family was difficult, this makes it all worth it, this award is for them.”

 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s key milestone achievements:

 

Dally M Winger Of The Year – 2013

RLIF Winger Of The Year – 2013

Dally M Fullback Of The Year – 2015, 2018

RLW Player of the Year – 2015

NZRL / Kiwis Player of the Year – 2017

Dally M Player Of The Year – 2018

IRL Golden Boot Winner – 2019

NZRL is pleased to announce that Australian based apparel brand, BLK, will be its official apparel provider from 1 January 2020 through to 31 December 2023.

“We are no stranger to the quality BLK provide as we have partnered with this world-renowned clothing brand in the past,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.

“We are excited to be working with BLK over the next couple of years as we head into busy periods of growth for the organisation on and off the field, as well as the soon approaching 2021 World Cup.” Peters concludes.

“Three years ago BLK made a very clear brand decision to only partner with teams that create global excitement, treat all athletes equally regardless of gender and believe in the power of sport not just the business of sport,” says BLK CEO, Tyron Brant.

“It is wonderful to have the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns back in BLK; we are excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with New Zealand Rugby League and grow both brands globally.”

 

Shaun Johnson and Brandon Smith have been recalled by the New Zealand Kiwis for Saturday’s second Test against the Great Britain Lions at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch (8.00pm kick-off).

Johnson comes back in at standoff replacing the injured Kieran Foran while Smith, stood down last week, returns at hooker as the Kiwis seek a series-clinching win after taking out last Saturday’s first Test 12-8 at Eedn Park.

Kodi Nikorima, brought in at the 11th hour to replace Smith, moves to the interchange after his heroic performance in Auckland.

Despite arriving in camp late on Friday night and not training with the side, Nikorima was on the field for 76 minutes, making a game-high 53 tackles.

In another change, rookie international Corey Harawira-Naera is named in the second row for Kenny Bromwich, who returned to Melbourne on Sunday to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Bromwich is on an extended bench should he be able to return in time for the second Test.

Added to the bench in Harawira-Naera’s place is the experienced Kevin Proctor.

The Kiwis go into the contest hunting their first series victory against Great Britain since 1998.

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v GREAT BRITAIN LIONS

8.00pm, Saturday, November 9, 2019

Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS

 

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK

(Vodafone Warriors)

2 KEN MAUMALO

(Vodafone Warriors)

3 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

(Canberra Raiders)

4 JOSEPH MANU

(Sydney Roosters)

5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO

(Brisbane Broncos)

6 SHAUN JOHNSON

(Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

7 BENJI MARSHALL (c)

(Wests Tigers)

8 ZANE TETEVANO

(Sydney Roosters)

9 BRANDON SMITH

(Melbourne Storm)

10 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES

(Sydney Roosters)

11 BRITON NIKORA

(Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

12 COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA

(Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

13 JOSEPH TAPINE

(Canberra Raiders)

  Interchange:
14 KODI NIKORIMA

(Vodafone Warriors)

15 KEVIN PROCTOR

(Gold Coast Titans)

16 LEESON AH MAU

(Vodafone Warriors)

17 ADAM BLAIR

(Vodafone Warriors)

18 JAHROME HUGHES

(Melbourne Storm)

19 BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE

(Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

20 KENNY BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

21 BAILEY SIMONSSON

(Canberra Raiders)

22 ISAIAH PAPALI’I

(Vodafone Warriors)

 

HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | GREAT BRITAIN LIONS SERIES

 

Player Club Kiwi No Tests for NZ
LEESON AH MAU Vodafone Warriors 812 8
ADAM BLAIR Vodafone Warriors 732 50
KENNEATH BROMWICH Melbourne Storm 796 10
KIERAN FORAN Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 757 22
BRADEN HAMLIN UELE Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 822 1
COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 823 2
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm 819 3
JAMAYNE ISAAKO Brisbane Broncos 808 4
SHAUN JOHNSON Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 774 31
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters 815 7
BENJI MARSHALL Wests Tigers 717 30
KEN MAUMALO Vodafone Warriors 810 8
CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD Canberra Raiders 820 2
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 818 3
KODI NIKORIMA Vodafone Warriors 793 14
ISAIAH PAPALI’I Vodafone Warriors 817 1
KEVIN PROCTOR Gold Coast Titans 771 21
BAILEY SIMONSSON Canberra Raiders
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm 816 6
JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders 800 11
ZANE TETEVANO Sydney Roosters 821 2
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK Vodafone Warriors 779 19
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES Sydney Roosters 755 31

 

A rousing half-time speech from coach Michael Maguire seemed to do the trick as New Zealand defied the loss of Kieran Foran to hand Great Britain their second defeat in a row on their southern hemisphere tour with a 12-8 win at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.

Maguire was seen on the dressing room cameras having a highly animated discussion with his players after a try-less first half. The message obviously hit the mark with the Kiwis executing a little better in the second, even though errors did creep in at times.

Wayne Bennett’s men couldn’t come up with the plays to break the Kiwis line often enough, although a try late in the second half to move them within four points made for a nail-biting finish.

But when Lions winger Jermaine McGillvary lost control of the ball over the line, after a bone-jolting tackle by Kenny Bromwich, the fight faded in the Great Britain side.

After a 14-6 loss to Tonga a week ago, the Lions now look toward Christchurch next Saturday (November 9) for a second crack at New Zealand.

The Kiwis suffered an early blow losing five-eighth Foran in the sixth minute to a dislocated shoulder. He was third man in for a regulation tackle on Great Britain lock James Graham.

Foran came out of the tackle clutching his left shoulder and after being attended to by a trainer, he left the field in a fair degree of pain. He returned to sit on the sideline with his arm tucked up inside his warm-up jacket.

Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes came off the bench and joined Benji Marshall in the halves.

The Kiwis had already had disruption to the playing group with hooker Brandon Smith dropped from the starting line-up for failing to “meet team standards” according to former Kiwis winger and now Sky Sports television commentator Daryl Halligan.

The Kiwis drafted in former Broncos and now Warriors half Kodi Nikorima in the No.21 jersey on Saturday morning. He went straight into the No.9 role without the benefit of a captain’s run.

Despite all the upheaval, New Zealand opened the scoring with a Jamayne Isaako penalty in the seventh minute after Josh Hodgson was pinged for slowing down the ruck. Gareth Widdop replied for Great Britain and the score remained 2-2 until the half-time whistle.

A break upfield by Joey Manu, who had Marshall in support, looked like producing the first try of the game in the 39th minute. But the movement broke down inside the Lions’ 10-metre zone.

In the second half, the man most likely to do something did it when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broke through two defenders, tried to step fullback Jonny Lomax, but still managed to get the ball to Isaako who ran unchallenged to the line.

It sparked something in the Kiwis camp as it looked like they’d scored again two minutes later, when Briton Nikora chased through a Marshall kick. But replays showed he had knocked on in the lead-up.

They didn’t have to wait long though as bench forward Corey Harawira-Naera jostled with four defenders before grounding the ball under the posts. Isaako hadn’t converted his own try but didn’t miss this time and it was 12-2.

Tempers flared twice in the second half with players clashing – first when Joe Tapine was penalised for a late tackle on James Graham and then Tuivasa-Sheck was penalised for pushing John Bateman.

But still the Lions couldn’t score off the two extra sets given to them.

Interchange forward Daryl Clark did barge his way over in the 68th minute after spinning out of Manu’s tackle and with Widdop’s conversion suddenly things got more interesting at 12-8. In the end it wasn’t enough.

Long-time Kiwis servant Adam Blair got to celebrate his 50th Test in style after leading the team out onto the park and giving a spine-chilling version of the Haka.

 

Margie McDonald

Senior Reporter NRL.com

 

Adam Blair will achieve the rare honour of playing 50 Tests while Kieran Foran will make his first international appearance in more than two years when the New Zealand Kiwis meet the Great Britain Lions in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off).

Veteran Northland-born and raised Blair (33) will become only the ninth player in history – and just the second New Zealander after Ruben Wiki – to reach the 50-Test milestone.

Blair seemed set to be stranded on 48 Tests after missing selection for the mid-year clash against Mate Ma’a Tonga and initially being overlooked for the end-of-season internationals against the Kangaroos and the Lions.

However, the 311-game NRL forward came into the squad as an injury replacement for the World Cup 9s in Sydney and earned a Test recall for the Oceania Cup match against the Kangaroos in Wollongong last Friday night.

Canterbury-Bankstown play maker Foran (29) returns to the Test stage for the first time since May, 2017, partnering captain Benji Marshall in the halves. Replacing Shaun Johnson, he will be making his 22nd appearance for the Kiwis since his debut 10 years ago.

In other changes to the side which lost 4-26 to Australia, Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire has moved Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano into the starting front row after he made his debut from the bench last Friday night. Vodafone Warriors prop Leeson Ah Mau is switched to the bench.

Canberra back rower Joseph Tapine, who served a one-game suspension last week, is recalled to start at loose forward in his 11th Test with Blair now on the bench and Braden Hamlin-Uele, one of four debutants against Australia, moving out of the squad. Melbourne utility Jahrome Hughes and Canterbury-Bankstown back rower Corey Harawira-Naera complete the interchange.

This Saturday’s match will be the Kiwis’ first against the Great Britain Lions since a three-Test series in England in 2007.

It will be the second leg of an international triple header at Eden Park. It kicks off with a second-tier Oceania Cup match between Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati (2.20pm kick-off) with the Kiwis v Great Britain encounter followed by the Kangaroos taking on Tonga International (7.40pm kick-off). The Tongans come into the match after stunning the Lions 14-6 in Hamilton last Saturday.

 

BUY TRIPLE HEADER TICKETS NOW

 

50 TEST APPEARANCES

(in chronological order)

 

Jim Sullivan (Wales, England, Great Britain) 1921-1934 | 54 internationals

Mick Sullivan (England, Great Britain) 1954-1962 | 50 internationals

Ruben Wiki (New Zealand) 1994-2006 | 55 internationals

Adrian Morley (England, Great Britain) 1996-2012 | 53 internationals

Darren Lockyer (Australia) 1997-2011 | 59 internationals

Petero Civoniceva (Australia, Fiji) 2001-2014 | 51 internationals

Cameron Smith (Australia) 2006-2017 | 56 internationals

James Graham (Great Britain, England) 2006-2019 | 50 internationals

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v GREAT BRITAIN LIONS

5.00pm, Saturday, November 2, 2019

Eden Park, Auckland

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS

 

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK

(Vodafone Warriors)

2 KEN MAUMALO

(Vodafone Warriors)

3 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD

(Canberra Raiders)

4 JOSEPH MANU

(Sydney Roosters)

5 JAMAYNE ISAAKO

(Brisbane Broncos)

6 KIERAN FORAN

(Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

7 BENJI MARSHALL (c)

(Wests Tigers)

8 ZANE TETEVANO

(Sydney Roosters)

9 BRANDON SMITH

(Melbourne Storm)

10 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES

(Sydney Roosters)

11 BRITON NIKORA

(Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

12 KENNY BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

13 JOSEPH TAPINE

(Canberra Raiders)

Interchange:
14 JAHROME HUGHES

(Melbourne Storm)

15 COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA

(Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

16 LEESON AH MAU

(Vodafone Warriors)

17 ADAM BLAIR

(Vodafone Warriors)

18 KEVIN PROCTOR

(Gold Coast Titans)

19 BAILEY SIMONSSON

(Canberra Raiders)

 

HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE

Damien Cook celebrated his homecoming by spearheading a new-look Kangaroos side to a 26-4 win over New Zealand in front of 18,104 fans at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

Cook, who grew up at Helensburgh and was a member of Stanwell Park Surf Lifesaving Club, broke the Kiwis’ hearts with a 70-metre intercept try midway through the second half and used his speed from dummy half to put James Tedesco over to seal the win.

It was a clinical performance by the Kangaroos to avenge last year’s Test loss to New Zealand in Auckland and put them in the box seat to secure the inaugural Oceania Cup Trophy if they can beat Tonga next Saturday at Eden Park.

In some ways the Kiwis could feel they were unlucky as two of Australia’s first three tries were scored from intercepts but they didn’t create enough opportunities to seriously trouble Australia.

With the Kiwis missing props Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and James Fisher-Harris, it was no surprise that Australia fancied their chances in the middle and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga chose two front-rowers on the bench.

Canberra prop Josh Papalii, the only survivor from Meninga’s first Test team in 2016, was a powerhouse, despite carrying a rib cartilage injury into the game.

Papalii ran 80 metres from seven carries with the ball in his first 23-minute stint before being replaced by Payne Haas.

One of five debutants in the Australian team, Haas is the youngest forward to wear the green-and-gold jersey since Brad Fittler in 1990 and he made a stunning first-up impression as he carried the ball for 102 metres from just seven runs before half-time.

By the end of his 37-minute stint, 19-year-old Haas had ran the ball for 174 metres from 13 carries – the most by any forward on either side.

David Klemmer ran the ball for 154 metres, while Papalii finished the game with 145 metres and interchange prop Paul Vaughan, another debutant, ran for 120 metres.

The Kangaroos posted first points when centre Latrell Mitchell landed an eighth minute penalty goal and they looked set to go further ahead after Papalii put Jake Trbojevic over in the 15th minute but the Manly lock knocked on.

However, there was no doubt when Mitchell intercepted a floating pass from Shaun Johnson 20 metres out from the Australian line and sent winger Josh Addo-Carr racing away for his first Test try in the 20th minute.

Kangaroos second-rower Tyson Frizell then put the home side further ahead in the 27th minute when he stepped Marshall after receiving the ball on the New Zealand tryline and dived over to score.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad got the Kiwis on the scoreboard when he powered over out wide after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck chimed into the backline from a 35th minute scrum win but it was the only points New Zealand managed all night.

Their best scoring chance in the second half came in the 54th minute as the Kiwis threw the ball around near the Australian line but Cook struck a huge blow when he intercepted an Adam Blair pass and ran 70 metres to score.

Cook was at his electrifying best again five minutes later when he burst out of dummy half and exposed some tired marker defence before finding James Tedesco to score under the posts.

Trbojevic had another try disallowed late in the match and a 76th minute Daly Cherry-Evans penalty goal completed the scoring.

A hat-trick from the player of the tournament Mitchell Moses helped Australia overcome New Zealand 24-10 to claim the inaugural men’s World Cup 9s title.

After a weight of possession, New Zealand crossed first when Reimis Smith athletically touched down in the corner courtesy of a brilliant bat-on by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Australia briefly hit the front through a converted Moses bonus zone try but Kiwis winger Jamayne Isaako responded straight away with his seventh try of the competition and the ensuing sideline goal.

However, the brilliance of Eels halfback Moses put the Kangaroos ahead 13-10 at half-time as he burnt the defence to notch another four-pointer on his home turf.

Kyle Feldt powered over for a try in the second stanza, much to the chagrin of many fans who claimed the Cowboys winger committed a double-movement and planted the ball short.

But Moses, who finished with 20 points, ensured that debate was moot when he backed up a bulldozing David Fifita bust to reach the bonus zone and secure the coveted trophy.

The Kiwis will look for redemption next Friday at the Trans-Tasman double header.

New Zealand Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson and Kiwi Ferns centre Honey Hireme – Smiler have today been confirmed to captain the national teams in the inaugural World Cup Nines at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

Johnson (29) and Hireme (38) aren’t only the most seasoned international players in each of the squads but they can also draw on significant experience in the nines game.

Johnson appeared in each of the four NRL Nines tournaments at Eden Park in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, captaining the Vodafone Warriors in the first three before the legendary Ruben Wiki led the side in 2017.

Hireme also featured on the same stage twice in 2016 and 2017 for the Kiwi Ferns against the Jillaroos.

The first appearances for the pair were in central Sydney today when the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns gathered with every squad at the Botanical Gardens overlooking the harbour.

The full squads from the 16 competing countries – 12 men and four women – were captured in a number of photos including a spectacular one of all teams lined up together.

Johnson leads a 16-man team which features eight players yet to play for the Kiwis. The squad assembled in Sydney on Monday, having its first field session at Leichhardt Oval yesterday.

The Kiwi Ferns also trained for the first time yesterday. One change has been made to the side with Warriors hooker Kanyon Paul coming into the Kiwi Ferns for the first time as a late replacement for unavailable Brisbane dummy half Lavinia Gould.

The Kiwi Ferns open their campaign against the Jillaroos on Friday night with two more pool games against England and Papua New Guinea on Saturday night. The top two teams go into the final.

The Kiwis meet the Kangaroos on Friday night and have two more pool games against Papua New Guinea and the United States on Saturday. The top two teams from the group go into the semi-finals involving the winners of the other two pools. England is grouped with Wales, France and Lebanon in one pool while Tonga Invitational leads the remaining pool alongside Toa Samoa, Fiji Bati and Cook Islands.

 

Auckland, New Zealand, October 10, 2019 – Braden Hamlin-Uele, Corey Harawira-Naera, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Zane Tetevano are in line to make their debuts in the New Zealand Kiwis’ coming Tests against the Kangaroos and the Great Britain Lions.

The four players have all been named tonight in a squad which also features returns for winger Jamayne Isaako and back rowers Kevin Proctor and Joseph Tapine who weren’t involved in the June Test victory over Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium.

Tokoroa product Tetevano now has a third opportunity to play his first Test.

He was selected but then ruled out of last year’s end-of-season programme with injury and was then in the 19-man squad but didn’t make the playing 17 when the Kiwis beat Mate Ma’a Tonga 34-14 in June.

A premiership winner with the Sydney Roosters last year, the 28-year-old was a regular again throughout this season totalling 23 appearances but suffered further disappointment when, after being named for the grand final against Canberra, he was ultimately omitted.

Northland-raised Canterbury-Bankstown second rower Harawira-Naera has earned a second chance of making his Test debut. Like Tetevano, he was originally selected in last year’s squad for the home Test against Australia and the following three-match series in England only to be ruled out with injury.

He played for the New Zealand Māori Kiwis in the match against the Australian Indigenous All-Stars in Melbourne in January and went on to make 21 appearances in his first season with the Bulldogs.

After previously representing the Cook Islands at Test level, Nicoll-Klokstad comes into the Kiwi squad for the first time after a superb season for beaten grand finalists the Canberra Raiders. He scored 11 tries in 25 appearances.

Glenora Bears junior and former Junior Kiwi Hamlin-Uele earns selection after impressing in 21 interchange appearances for the Sharks this year.

Harawira-Naera, Hamlin-Uele, Nicoll-Klokstad and Tetevano are also in the Kiwis’ World Cup Nines squad, Tetevano coming into both sides today after James Fisher-Harris was forced to withdraw with injury and Nicoll-Klokstad being called in to replace Jordan Rapana. Rapana was originally chosen in both sides but has now been ruled out; his replacement in the Test squad is yet to be named.

Of the 19 players in the squad for the Tonga Test in June, 15 return for the internationals against the Kangaroos and the Lions. Four of the playing 17 are unavailable due to injury – captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, prop Jesse Bromwich, centre Esan Marsters and back rower Fisher-Harris.

Three players from the premiership-winning Roosters side are named – centre Joseph Manu, back rower Isaac Liu and prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – along with Tetevano while the beaten Raiders provide Nicoll-Klokstad and Tapine.

In all 11 players in the Test squad are also in the Kiwis’ World Cup Nines side.

The Nines players assemble in Sydney on Monday with the Test squad gathering on Sunday week.

The Kiwis begin their Test campaign with their Oceania Cup clash against the Kangaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 before flying to New Zealand for two Tests against the reformed GB Rugby League Lions (Great Britain).

The first of these will be the second match of an international tripleheader at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, November 2, which also features the Kangaroos facing Tonga Invitational and Toa Samoa taking on Fiji Bati in Oceania Cup matches.

The Kiwis then move to Christchurch for the second Test at Orangetheory Stadium (formerly AMI Stadium) on Saturday, November 9.

 

  • Buy tickets HERE for the Kiwis’ Tests against the GB Rugby League Lions

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v KANGAROOS & GB RUGBY LEAGUE LIONS

 

 

ITINERARY

 

Oceania Cup

Friday, October 25              7.30pm         v Australia               WIN Stadium

Wollongong

 

First Test

Saturday, November 2        5.00pm         v Great Britain          Eden Park

Auckland

 

Second Test

Saturday, November 9        8.00pm         v Great Britain          Orangetheory Stadium

Christchurch

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | SQUAD

 

Player Club Kiwi No Tests for NZ
LEESON AH MAU Vodafone Warriors 812 6
NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA Melbourne Storm 804 6
KENNEATH BROMWICH Melbourne Storm 796 8
KIERAN FORAN Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 757 21
BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
JAHROME HUGHES Melbourne Storm 819 1
JAMAYNE ISAAKO Brisbane Broncos 808 2
SHAUN JOHNSON Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 774 30
ISAAC LIU Sydney Roosters 805 8
JOSEPH MANU Sydney Roosters 815 5
BENJI MARSHALL Wests Tigers 717 28
KEN MAUMALO Vodafone Warriors 810 6
CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD Canberra Raiders
BRITON NIKORA Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 818 1
KEVIN PROCTOR Gold Coast Titans 771 21
BRANDON SMITH Melbourne Storm 816 5
JOSEPH TAPINE Canberra Raiders 800 10
ZANE TETEVANO Sydney Roosters
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK Vodafone Warriors 779 17
JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES Sydney Roosters 755 29

Eight debutants have now been included in the 16-man New Zealand Kiwis squad for the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney on October 18 and 19.

When the line-up was originally named yesterday head coach Michael Maguire confirmed NRL rookies in Parramatta standoff Dylan Brown (19) and Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson (21) as well as second rower Corey Harawira-Naera (Canterbury Bankstown-Bulldogs), front rower Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), hooker Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs) and winger Reimis Smith (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs).

In the past 24 hours Maguire has been forced to make two more changes after losing forward James Fisher-Harris and winger Jordan Rapana resulting in the inclusion today of two more players yet to play for the Kiwis – Sydney Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano and Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Simonsson, Marshall-King and Smith all have strong family connections in rugby league.

Simonsson’s father Paul was a 1987 All Black before switching from rugby union to rugby league when he played with the North Sydney Bears in the then Winfield Cup in 1991-92.

Marshall-King (23) makes the New Zealand team in the same year his older brother and rugby league legend Benji made his emotional Test comeback for the Kiwis against Mate Ma’a Tonga seven years after his last international.

And Smith (22) is the son of 1996-2000 Kiwi Tyran Smith, who played for seven clubs in his 188-game NRL career from 1993-2005.

Harawira-Naera (24) was originally named in the Kiwi squad for the end of season campaign against the Kangaroos and England last year before being ruled out with injury. Tetevano was also ruled out with injury after being selected for that campaign and wasn’t in the final 17 when he was with the Kiwis for their Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in June.

While bringing in eight newcomers, Maguire has a squad built around Test players in halves Shaun Johnson and Kodi Nikorima, second rowers Kevin Proctor, Briton Nikora and Joseph Tapine, wingers Ken Maumalo and Jamayne Isaako and prop Leeson Ah Mau.

“This is a hugely exciting opportunity for the whole group playing in the World Cup Nines,” said Maguire.

“I’m especially excited for the new players we’ve been able to bring into the group.

“We’ve got players right across this squad who have come off terrific NRL seasons and have earned the privilege to represent New Zealand. For us, this is another step towards taking the Kiwi jersey to the place we want it to be.”

The New Zealand World Cup Nines squad assembles in Sydney next Monday.

Following the Nines, the Kiwis switch mode to Test football with their Oceania Cup clash against the Kangaroos in Wollongong on Friday, October 25 before flying to New Zealand for two Tests against the reformed GB Rugby League Lions (Great Britain).

The first of these will be the second match of an international tripleheader at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, November 2, which also features the Kangaroos facing Tonga Invitational and Toa Samoa taking on Fiji Bati in Oceania Cup matches.

The Kiwis then move to Christchurch for the second Test at Orangetheory Stadium (formerly AMI Stadium) on Saturday, November 9.

The New Zealand Test squad will be announced tomorrow.

 

  • Buy tickets HERE for the Kiwis’ Tests against the GB Rugby League Lions

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WORLD CUP NINES

 

LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)

*DYLAN BROWN (Parramatta Eels)

*COREY HARAWIRA-NAERA (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

*BRADEN HAMLIN-UELE (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)

SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

*JEREMY MARSHALL-KING (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)

*CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD (Canberra Raiders)

BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)

KEVIN PROCTOR (Gold Coast Titans)

*BAILEY SIMONSSON (Canberra Raiders)

*REIMIS SMITH (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)

*ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)

 

Debutants denoted by *

By warriors.kiwi & Photosport.nz

As seen on warriors.kiwi/news

New Zealand rugby league greats Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones have tonight been revealed as two of the four players to join the NRL Hall of Fame in a formal induction ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday night.

In a momentous night for the game in New Zealand, they will be inducted alongside Australians Danny Buderus and Craig Young, joining 106 players previously honoured.

The Kiwi legends were among last year’s nominees when Kiwi legend and New Zealand player of the century Mark Graham (the first Kiwi included) was inducted along with Petero Civoniceva, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis.

And they were again included in a list of 25 nominees announced last week for this year’s intake.

Wiki (46) and Jones (43) were long-time Kiwi teammates throughout their careers, Wiki playing a then-world record 55 Tests from 1994 to 2006 while Jones made 46 Test appearances from 1995-2006; they also both captained the Kiwis.

Wiki became the first New Zealander to play 300 NRL games, finishing with a total of 312 appearances including 225 for Canberra and 87 for the Vodafone Warriors.

Jones played his entire NRL career with the Vodafone Warriors, making a club record 261 appearances (until Simon Mannering went ahead of him).

Wiki and Jones have both worked extensively for the Vodafone Warriors since their playing careers ended, Wiki as a strength and conditioning coach and Jones in a number of coaching positions (he’s now an NRL assistant coach).

They were both named in the New Zealand Rugby League’s Team of the Century and have both been included in the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

A voting college representing a cross section of the game – scroll down to see college members – selected their top five players to be included in the exclusive Hall of Fame club. The four players were selected through an independent audit of the votes.

NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said the four inductees were all worthy recipients of the honour.

“All four of our player inductees will stand proudly alongside the 106 players who they will join in the Hall of Fame,” Greenberg said.

“These are some of the best players of their generations, and they will now join the best of the best.

“They each dominated their respective eras and commanded enormous respect. They still do.

“This year’s Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one. We will be recognising greatness when our latest class are formally inducted.”

Senior manager of NRL awards Frank Puletua said the induction ceremony would be one of the most important nights on the calendar.

“This year, we will be acknowledging our contributors as well as our players,” Puletua said.

“The Hall of Fame induction has become an incredibly important night for the game as we take the opportunity to reflect on our pioneers and our finest players.

“All four of our player inductees can now forever be known as Hall of Famers, and that only adds to their standing in the game.”

Three contributors – one each from administration, broadcast media and print media – will be announced tomorrow ahead of the formal induction.

For more information on the NRL Hall of Fame and Immortals, please visit nrl.com/hall-of-fame/

HALL OF FAME 2019

 

DANNY BUDERUS

Born: February 6, 1978, Taree, NSW

Junior Football: Taree United

Club: Newcastle Knights

Position: Hooker

Premiership Career 1997-2013: Newcastle Knights: Played 257. Points 246 (61 tries, 1 goal).

First Grade Debut: Newcastle v South Queensland at Marathon Stadium, 23/3/1997 (Rd 3)

Grand Finals: 1 – Newcastle 2001 (W)

Rep Career: Australia: Tests 24 (2001-06), Kangaroo tours 2001, 2003; Tri-Nations 2004, 2005. New South Wales: State of Origins 21 (2002-08). Country Origin: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008

 

STACEY JONES

Born: May 7, 1976, Auckland, NZ

Junior Football: Point Chevalier

Club: Vodafone Warriors

Position: Halfback

Premiership Career 1995-2009: Vodafone Warriors: Played 261. Points 674 (77 tries, 176 goals, 14 field goals). Super League 2006-2007: Les Catalans: Played 45 games.

First Grade Debut: Warriors v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium, 23/4/1995 (Rd 7)

Grand Finals: 1 – Warriors 2002 c (L)

Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 46 (1995-2006), World Cups 1995, 2000, Tri-Nations 1999, 2005, 2006; Captained Kiwis in seven Tests

 

RUBEN WIKI

Born: January 21, 1973, Auckland, NZ

Junior Football: Otara Scorpions

Clubs: Canberra Raiders, Vodafone Warriors

Position: Centre/Second Row/Prop

 

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.

The Kiwis, Kangaroos, Great Britain Rugby League Lions and emerging Pacific powers Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea are all set to hit New Zealand’s shores in October and November – and tickets are now on sale for the incredible blockbuster programme of international rugby league.

An Eden Park triple header that sees the Kiwis rekindle hostilities with old enemy The British Lions; the Kangaroos lock horns with Jason Taumalolo’s mighty Mate Ma’a Tonga; and Samoa and Fiji clash in a vital Oceania Cup showdown to showcase the international game on a single day at a single venue like never before.

With Christchurch also hosting a thrilling test match double header, and Hamilton welcoming back Tonga to the scene of their 2017 World Cup victory over the Kiwis – as they attempt to subdue another international superpower in the shape of Great Britain – New Zealand will play host to the best teams and players in the world over an incredible few weeks.

“This is an international rugby league spectacle which we’re not used to witnessing outside of the world cup,” NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said.

“The Oceania Cup and Lions Tour not only give fans and players more test match action but they highlight the quality of league being played around the globe.

“From the power and flare of our Pacific Nations to the long-awaited return of the GB Lions, these tests will shine a big spotlight on our game, as fans and players from both hemispheres set to congregate down under to witness nothing but world-class rugby league action.

“It’s a really promising time for rugby league, we know fans are already excited – so I’d urge people to get their tickets nice and early. We look forward to the blockbuster international calendar that awaits.”

International Rugby League Federation General Manager Southern Hemisphere Jeremy Edwards said the action-packed schedule was great for the entire Pacific region.

“It is the first time in many, many years we have got some meaningful content into the Pacific,” Edwards said.

“The Oceania Cup competition finally gives the nations down here a bit of respect.”

While the Kiwis, Kangaroos and Tonga are vying for the Oceania Cup, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea also have plenty to play for with the Oceania Shield and promotion to the Cup competition up for grabs.

The winner of the Shield will replace Australia in the Cup competition in 2020.

“That not only gives the top team in Pool B a chance to move into Pool A, but allows us to bring in the Cook Islands to Pool B,” says Edwards. “The Cook Islands has produced some incredible rugby league players and they are doing really well at the moment. They have got a match in November against the USA for the final position in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

“There is some really exciting stuff happening down here in the Pacific.”

Edwards said the return of the Great British Lions after a 12-year hiatus was also a huge positive for the international game.

“To be able to reinvigorate that and bring them down to this part of the world is really fantastic,” he said.

“And the desire for the Lions to go to Papua New Guinea to play the Kumuls says a lot about the development of rugby league in the Pacific. These matches open up so many doors for tourism and government opportunities – I think it is sensational.”

With Adult tickets starting from $20* (Christchurch and Hamilton) $25* (Auckland) and family passes from $50* (Christchurch and Hamilton) $60* (Auckland), Edwards said the triple header at Eden Park would provide tremendous value for money for rugby league fans.

“That is one of the things we have tried to do, to be able to appeal to Mum, Dad and the kids to come along and watch six great nations on family tickets that are really attractively priced.

“It’s three great matches of footy at a great venue, right in the middle of downtown Auckland. It’s a sensational evening of rugby league in rugby union heartland.”

The return of international rugby league to Christchurch and Hamilton after the cities successfully hosted matches during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup was also exciting, he said.

“Christchurch is a great venue, great city, beautiful scenery. Why not go and have a couple of days while you are there? And Hamilton is a great place as well with a great venue.”

OCEANIA CUP AND GREAT BRITAIN RUGBY LEAGUE LIONS TOUR FIXTURES

Saturday October 26 –  FMG Stadium, Waikato

  • Great Britain Rugby League Lions v Mate Ma’a Tonga
  • Plus Physical Disabled Rugby League New Zealand South Pacific 9’s Challenge

 

Saturday November 2 – Eden Park Triple Header, Auckland

  • Toa Samoa v Fiji Bati
  • Great Britain Rugby League Lions v New Zealand Kiwis
  • Mate Ma’a Tonga v Australia Kangaroos

 

Saturday November 9 – Double Header, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

  • Fiji Bati v Papua New Guinea Kumuls
  • Great Britain Rugby League Lions v New Zealand Kiwis

 

*Ticket pricing Plus Fees

 

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

 

As well as a host of blockbuster Great Britain Rugby League Lions and Oceania Cup fixtures, rugby league’s international programme features a first for the sport – a Physical Disabled Rugby League curtain raiser match ahead of the GB League Lions v Tonga clash at FMG Stadium Waikato on October 26.

The PDRLNZ South Pacific 9’s Challenge will see the Polynesia All Stars take on the Invitational All Stars over two 25-minute halves.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for us,” says PDRL player Gary Endacott.

“What I love about the PDRL is that is an opportunity for people to play the sport that they love but not necessarily in a wheelchair. No disrespect to wheelchair sports, but there has always been way more options for people with physical disabilities to do stuff in wheelchairs.”

Endacott, who is the son of former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott, says people will be surprised by the quality produced by players whose physical disabilities prevent them from being able to play open grade rugby league but stop short of being restricted to a wheelchair.

“The quality of the play, I think many people will find quite surprising, not just the skill factor but also the physical intensity.”

Having started in Australia in 2010, PDRL began in New Zealand in 2015 with a match at the Mt Albert Lions club.

The sport has grown to include regular trans-Tasman competition, including three international matches between New Zealand and Australian sides.

Endacott, who was born with cerebral palsy, has played presidents grade rugby league for 30 years but never dreamed he’d get the chance to play the sport on a major stage.

“Obviously the game is in the blood,” he says. “I’ve done a lot of different sporting things and I can say this with a high degree of certainty: there is nothing that put a bigger smile on my face than actually getting to play the game I love at a level that I always wanted to aspire to. I really thought this would never happen.

“I’ve climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and won world tennis championships in the disabled arena, but I’d chuck all that out the window to do what I am doing now with the league.”

The PDRLNZ South Pacific Challenge is nine players per side, and features players in black shorts who play full contact and red-shorted players who play touch, as well as two able-bodied players to help facilitate play.

Endacott has largely played as a black shorts player however his age and disability level means he is now tending towards the red shorts.

“But I like the physicality of the game. I’m probably a wee bit too physical at times. I’m pretty affected in the legs and I’ve not got the best balance – but physical strength would be as good as a lot of people. And as far as balls skills and things like that, I’ve been a wee bit lucky in the gene pool there!”

The chance to play a curtain-raiser at an international match was a major boost for a sport that was progressing well but still encountered challenges accessing funding and sponsorship, Endacott said.

“We need people to get behind it and NZRL have obviously been very supportive by making sure we are the curtain raiser (game), which is great.”

Sandra Hickey, Founder & Chair of Physical Disability Rugby League NZ, says this is an opportunity the athletes would have only dreamed of.

“We are very grateful to New Zealand Rugby League for the opportunity to showcase PDRL on the global stage, giving our athletes the chance to show off their hard work and play the game in front of an international crowd. It’s a momentous occasion that will have long-term benefits on the growth of PDRL.”

“We are delighted we have been able to include this fixture as part of our busy international calendar,” NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said.

“We are always looking to provide more opportunities for our players to play this great game, despite what level they are, where they’ve come from or if they have a disability or not. Rugby league is inclusive and having our PDRLNZ athletes take the field in October is really exciting.

“Going forward, we are working to provide more regular opportunities for our PDRLNZ athletes to showcase their skills on the world stage. The curtain raiser match is an important milestone and hopefully, the beginnings of what’s to come.”

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.

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)

By Tony Kemp

An icon on the field, a leading coach and exemplary administrator off the field, and an all-round legend of the game, we celebrate, Matua Kevin Tamati.

Kevin Tamati is approaching five decades of service at the highest level in Rugby League in Aotearoa, making him well-deserving of the most prestigious of awards – A New Zealand Rugby League Life Membership.

Kevin Tamati was born and raised in the Hawke’s Bay. He burst to national prominence when he (along with our President, life member and cousin, Howie Tamati) were selected to represent the Junior Kiwis in 1972, and would go on to earn his full international honors debuting for the Kiwis  in 1979 – the first of 22 tests he accumulated through an international career that lasted until 1986.

As a player Kevin spent time with Wellington clubs the Petone Panthers, Upper Hutt Tigers, Randwick Kingfishers as well as the Northcote Tigers in Auckland before embarking on an international career with Widnes and Warrington in the UK, where he played in excess of 200 top-flight games.

Kevin has made a significant contribution to our domestic game, playing for Auckland, Wellington, and representing Central Districts. There was a stint where Kevin would play for Northcote in the Auckland comp on a Saturday and then fly down to Wellington on Wednesday nights to play for the Kingfishers.  Kevin was known as a tough and uncompromising player throughout his career and was a role model and hero to many players, (including myself and many past Kiwis) during this period as a player.

Once his playing days were over, Kevin remained in the UK and began his coaching career at the helm of teams including, Chorley, Whitehaven, Widnes and Warrington. He also coached the British Army in the mid-1990s.

However, Kevin Tamati was always coming home. Upon his return to New Zealand, Kevin began a career as an administrator in the Hawkes Bay. He took up roles as the Chairman of Hawkes Bay (a position he still holds today) alongside refereeing at all age group levels as well as coaching Hawke’s Bay teams at age group and senior levels.

Even today, Kevin still works in a voluntary capacity and currently serves as Vice Chairman – Mid- Central Zone and is the current Assistant Coach of NZ Māori Women’s team which were the curtain raiser to the NZ Maori – Indigenous All Stars game earlier this year.

In 2006 Kevin was appointed to the NZ Māori Rugby League Board and helped lead the 2008 delegation to the International RL Federation – successfully establishing the inaugural indigenous international match between NZ Māori Rugby League and the Australian Indigenous Rugby League. This pioneer match provided the ground-breaking work to establish the hugely popular annual NRL Indigenous vs Australian All Stars game, promoting indigenous rugby league. Kevin has also coached the NZ Māori Rugby League side in 2007-08.

Kevin Tamati was made a life member of the Wellington Rugby League and named in the Wellington Rugby League Team of the Century in 2012. He was named a life member of Hawkes Bay Rugby League in 2016. Kevin Tamati was also named an Auckland Rugby League Immortal Hall of Famer and was inducted into the NZRL Legends of League for his service to the game.

Few people have had a greater impact on the sport of rugby league, from grassroots to the elite levels from playing, coaching or administrating than Kevin Tamati in the past half-century.

As you have heard, Kevin Tamati has Rugby League running through his veins. Kevin’s legacy of leadership will continue to pave the way for our future leaders of the game, for generations to come.

Congratulations Kevin Tamati on your  New Zealand Rugby League Life Membership, thank you for your years of invaluable service and dedication to our great game. 

Two tries from star half Shaun Johnson and a brilliant showing from young hooker Brandon Smith led the New Zealand Kiwis to a 34-14 victory over Mate Ma’a Tonga in the opening game of the Oceania Cup on Saturday.

Smith was in a class of his own for much of the match at Mount Smart Stadium, at times making Tonga’s defence appear second rate with his piercing runs, as he clocked up 10 tackle busts and 126 running metres in less than an hour on the field.

The energetic Melbourne Storm rake was also directly involved in two of New Zealand’s six tries, scoring the opening one with a 35-metre dart before setting up another early in the second half with another long-range run and kick.

There would have been daylight between Smith and the next best Kiwi had it not been for Johnson’s performance, with the playmaker starring in his first game back in Auckland since his dramatic exit from the Warriors at the end of 2018.

It was also his 30th Test for his country.

Johnson crossed twice at the back end of the first half and managed the game well alongside Benji Marshall in what was only the pair’s second Test together.

In front of 23,624 mostly Tongan fans in Auckland, the Kiwis raced out to a 16-4 lead at the break and didn’t look back, going some way to avenging their shock 28-22 loss to the island nation at the 2017 World Cup.

After Smith’s 11th minute try, which Esan Marsters converted, Tonga began to dominate the game and eventually hit back via Solomone Kata, after Daniel Tupou’s clever bat-back of a John Asiata kick.

Up 6-4 with half-time approaching, the Kiwis got a timely injection from Johnson, with the Cronulla Sharks ace twice slicing through Tonga’s left edge to extend the home side’s lead.

Minutes into the second half Smith’s destructive carry through the middle of the park, and well-weighted grubber into the goal-post pad, saw Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pounce on the loose ball for New Zealand’s fourth.

Tonga fought hard to try and get back into the match, but their lack of a genuine play-maker was clear to see and they struggled to build pressure.

With 20 minutes to go the air appeared to have been knocked out of Tonga, and the Kiwis made them pay with tries in quick succession to debutant Jahrome Hughes and centre Joseph Manu.

Back-to-back tries to Sydney Roosters Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Daniel Tupou inside the final 10 minutes saw Tonga reduce the final deficit to 20.

nrl.com

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

New Zealand Rugby League is saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Deacon Kiwi #445.

Bill played for the Ngaruawahia Panthers in the Waikato Rugby League competition representing Waikato. He was first selected for the New Zealand national rugby league team in 1965, the same year he was also named New Zealand Rugby League player of the year.

Deacon was included in the Kiwis squad for the 1970 World Cup and played his last test match for New Zealand in 1971. He finished his career having played 14 tests for New Zealand.

His contribution to New Zealand Rugby League will not be forgotten.

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.”

 

Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran have tonight been confirmed in the 19-strong Kiwi squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).

The pair were initially included in a 27-man group named on Thursday night but have now moved a step closer to the prospect of a return to the Test arena.

The 34-year-iold Marshall joined the New Zealand team’s camp in Auckland tonight seven years after last wearing the black and white jersey in the end-of-season Test against the Kangaroos in Townsville in 2012. Marshall was captain that night – the 27th Test of his career – in a match the Kiwis lost 10-18.

Foran returns to a New Zealand squad for the first time since lining up in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st international. He won’t join the Kiwis until tomorrow following his appearance for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs against the Roosters in Sydney today.

He’ll travel with new Bulldogs team-mate and 2018 Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak along with Roosters players Joseph Manu, Issac Liu, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tokoroa-born Zane Tetevano, one of three players in line to make their Kiwi Test debuts on Saturday night.

Tetevano (28) was originally selected for last year’s end of season campaign against Australia and England before being ruled out with injury following the Roosters’ grand final win. He now has a chance to wear the Kiwi jersey for the first time after previously representing Cook Islands in five Tests.

The other players in line to debut are Wellington-born Melbourne utility Jahrome Hughes (24) and Tauranga-born Cronulla second rower Briton Nikora (21), who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.

Vodafone Warriors halfback Kodi Nikorima and Canberra’s Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine have been ruled out by their clubs while Vodafone Warriors second rower Tohu Harris was also unavailable.

In all 14 of the 19 players were involved in last year’s campaigns and a 15th – Tetevano – was an original selection. As well as Marshall and Foran, Vodafone Warriors captain and fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – who has scored 13 tries in 16 Tests – makes his return to the Kiwis after last appearing in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

 

  • The Kiwis v Tonga Test is the second leg of a doubleheader which kicks off with the Kiwi Ferns facing Fetu Samoa at 3.10pm.
  • BUY TICKETS HERE NOW

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WIDER SQUAD

 

LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)

NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA (Melbourne Storm)

JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)

KENNEATH BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)

JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)

KIERAN FORAN (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)

JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)

SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)

JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)

BENJI MARSHALL (Wests Tigers)

ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)

KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)

BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)

ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)

ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Vodafone Warriors)

JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)

DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs) Captain

 

Veteran halves Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran are among 27 players named in a wider Kiwi squad for the inaugural Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).

The last of the 34-year-old Marshall’s 27 Tests was in 2012 when he captained the Kiwis in a 10-18 loss to the Kangaroos in Townsville.

Foran (28) last played at international level in the 2017 Anzac Test in Canberra, his 21st outing for the national team.

Another feature of the extended squad is the inclusion of Tauranga-born Sharks second rower Briton Nikora, who made his NRL debut in the opening round this season.

The only other three players named who are yet to make their Kiwi Test debuts are Wellington-born Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes (24). Tokoroa-born Roosters middle forward Zane Tetevano (28) and Tonga-born Vodafone Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi (27). Hughes and Paasi were in the Kiwis’ end-of-season touring squad last year but didn’t appear in a Test while Tetevano, who has played at international level for Cook Islands, was originally selected for the campaign before being ruled out by injury.

“We’re really pleased with the quality and form of the players we’ve been able to select,” said second-year Kiwi head coach Michael Maguire.

“Nearly all of them have come through the Test we had against England in Denver last year and the matches against Australia and England later in the year. As a group we made a lot of progress and now it’s all about building on that.

“This Test against Tonga at Mount Smart is going to be a huge occasion and we can’t wait to be part of it.

“It kicks off what is a tremendous year for the international game with the introduction of the Oceania Cup competition, the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines and our series against the Great Britain Rugby League Lions.”

In all 22 of the 27 players named in the Kiwis’ wider squad tonight were involved in last year’s campaigns; the exceptions are Marshall, Foran, Tetevano, Nikora and Vodafone Warriors captain and 2018 Dally M Medal winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

NRL competition leader Melbourne provides five players in the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny, front rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona, hooker Brandon Smith and Hughes while there are seven Vodafone Warriors in fullback Tuivasa-Sheck, wing Ken Maumalo, halfback Kodi Nikorima, prop Leeson Ah Mau, hooker Issac Luke, second rower Isaiah Papali’i and Paasi.

The Sydney Roosters boast four players in 2018 New Zealand Rugby League Player of the Year Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, centre Joseph Manu, back rower Isaac Liu and Tetevano.

The final 19-man Test squad will be announced after the NRL’s 14th round finishes with the clash between the Sydney Roosters and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday evening.

  • The Kiwis v Tonga Test is the second leg of a doubleheader which kicks off with the Kiwi Ferns facing Fetu Samoa at 3.10pm.
  • BUY TICKETS HERE NOW

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | WIDER SQUAD

LEESON AH MAU (Vodafone Warriors)

NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA (Melbourne Storm)

JESSE BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)

KENNEATH BROMWICH (Melbourne Storm)

JAMES FISHER-HARRIS (Penrith Panthers)

KIERAN FORAN (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)

JAHROME HUGHES (Melbourne Storm)

JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)

SHAUN JOHNSON (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

ISAAC LIU (Sydney Roosters)

ISSAC LUKE (Vodafone Warriors)

JOSEPH MANU (Sydney Roosters)

BENJI MARSHALL (Wests Tigers)

ESAN MARSTERS (Wests Tigers)

KEN MAUMALO (Vodafone Warriors)

BRITON NIKORA (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)

KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)

AGNATIUS PAASI (Vodafone Warriors)

ISAIAH PAPALI’I (Vodafone Warriors)

JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)

BRANDON SMITH (Melbourne Storm)

JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)

MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

ZANE TETEVANO (Sydney Roosters)

ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Vodafone Warriors)

JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES (Sydney Roosters)

DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)

 

Photo – Photosport

New Zealand rugby league has lost a legend.

 

It’s with great sorrow that we announce Kiwi #634 and Warrior #52, Quentin Pongia, lost his battle with bowel cancer on Saturday, May 18th, 2019.

 

Originally from the West Coast, Pongia moved to Canterbury at 18 in 1988. He crossed the Tasman in 1993 to play for Canberra, winning a premiership with them the following year. He remained with the club through to the end of 1997 before joining the Warriors in 1998, followed by the Roosters, Dragons and Wigan.

 

The relentless prop played 137 NRL games in his 13-year career, in which he gained a reputation as one of the game’s most feared players. On top of this, he also leaves behind a legacy carved by his black and white jersey.

 

Quentin represented the Kiwis 35 times between 1992 and 2000. He played a monumental role in New Zealand’s back-to-back victories over the Kangaroos at North Harbour Stadium in the 1990s, he then went on to captain the 1998 touring team that remains the only Kiwis side unbeaten from a three-test series in England, also earning himself New Zealand Rugby League player of the year.

 

In 2004, Quentin hung up his boots while signed with Wigan when it was discovered that he suffered from the contagious blood disorder hepatitis B. However, his involvement in rugby league didn’t end there. Pongia remained in the game when his playing days finished, having time on Canberra’s football staff and more recently he worked in the wellbeing area for the NRL, the Rugby League Players’ Association and lastly the Manly Sea Eagles.

 

He was also on the Kiwis’ staff for the 2009 end of season Four Nations campaign in the United Kingdom and France.

 

In an interview with stuff.co.nz last year, Quentin said “I’m a passionate Kiwi. That will never change … I’ve been away for 25 years in Australia, but I’m still black and white…It’s something that’s pretty close to my heart.”

 

A gentleman on and off the field, a legend of the game and a true friend to many. New Zealand Rugby League passes on their condolences to Quentin’s friends and family.

 

 

“Like a number of players who played with him, I have nothing but respect and a wonderful friendship with Quentin and although it saddens me to hear of the news, it comforts me to know he has no pain now. Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with and I know how hard he fought to beat this terrible disease. He will be sorely missed right across the rugby league community.” – Current Canberra coach and former teammate, Ricky Stuart.

 

“A legend, an absolute legend of rugby league. He played the game full on all the time, gave no quarter and the same with his cancer, he fought it until the bitter end – a wonderful man.” Sir Peter Leitch.

 

Vodafone Warriors and Kiwis hooker Issac Luke tweeted: “Farrrrrout this has saddened our @NRL and @NZRL_Kiwis  community. Moe mai rā tōku tuakana. Thoughts and love to Q’s whanau. No more pain now brother. Only memories of how tough you were as a player on and off the field. May you rest in Love.”

 

Ex-Kiwi and Vodafone Warriors centre Nigel Vagana tweeted: “My @NZRL_Kiwis debut .. the 1st Anzac Test.. Johnny Lomax got hurt in opening 30secs. Q had to play 80mins in the front row, 1st game back after a long suspension & led us to victory. One of the toughest ever in the Black & White. Ka kite ano Uso.”

 

Very sad to hear the passing of Quentin Pongia. One of the toughest NRL players of modern rugby league, and that reflected especially when he represented the Kiwis” – Kiwi and Manly Sea Eagles player, Martin Taupau tweeted.

 

“Being born in NZ but growing up in Oz, I found myself always following Kiwi players, regardless of the club jersey they wore. Quentin Pongia was one of the toughest to ever wear the black jersey and I’m so grateful to have known him. Rest In Peace Q” – Former Kiwi, Dene Halatau tweeted.

 

We invite you to join us at a luncheon hosted by Sir Peter Leitch, in support of Quentin’s family at the Ellerslie Event Centre on June 7.

 

Photo – PhotosportNZ

New Zealand is set to get a massive injection of international rugby league matches in 2019, with the Great Britain Rugby League Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and the inaugural Oceania Cup getting the green light.

 

The first match of the Oceania Cup has the New Zealand Kiwis going head-to-head with Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart in the re-match that everyone has been waiting for. The Kiwi Ferns will also take on a Pacific Island team on the same night. This mid-season clash is one of three Tests the Kiwis will play in New Zealand, with the end-of-season Test against the Kangaroos being played in Wollongong.

 

The inaugural Oceania Cup will be made up of Pool A – comprising New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga  – and Pool B – made up of Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

 

Organisers also announced that the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will be in action in the southern hemisphere for the first time in 13 years, playing two Test matches against New Zealand (2 November at Eden Park and 9 November at Christchurch Stadium) and Tests against Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

 

New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters said he was “excited to see all the hard work behind the scenes come into fruition with more international rugby league content locked in for our country and our fans.”

 

“We could not be doing this without the support of New Zealand Government, the host cities and NZRL’s commercial partners so I’m incredibly grateful to all of them for making this possible.”

 

“Our rugby league community in New Zealand has been hoping for more international and Kiwis fixtures in our back yard for a while now so I’m pleased we’re able to deliver on this for them,”

 

“New Zealand Rugby League is also delighted to be bringing such an event to New Zealand that will also benefit the teams throughout the Pacific.”

 

RLIF Southern Hemisphere General Manager Jeremy Edwards was delighted to announce such a packed schedule.

 

“This international program is both exciting and ground-breaking and it is great to see the Great Britain Rugby League Lions following in the historic footprints of previous tours.”

“The Oceania Cup is an important step in creating a full international calendar that fans, players and commercial partners can enjoy.”

 

“It has taken a huge amount of work to deliver this and I commend the efforts of all those who have brought us to this point. It is a great platform for the international game in the Asia Pacific Region.”

Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) Chief Executive Officer Ian Prendergast says the Oceania Cup and Great Britain Rugby League Lions are fantastic additions to the International Rugby League calendar.

 

“It is fantastic that there will be significant international content in 2019, including new properties in the Nines and the Oceania Cup, as well as the Great Britain Rugby League Lions touring down under.”

 

“It reflects the enhanced profile, interest and competitiveness of International Rugby League. In particular, the Oceania Cup provides a tremendous new platform for the Pacific nations to compete on the world stage.”

 

“We have enjoyed working through the process with the RLIF and the nations to establish the schedule for 2019 and look forward to continuing these discussions when planning for future matches takes place.”

 

“The international game presents exciting opportunities for our members and through continued collaboration we look forward to further showcasing the wonderful rugby league talent we have in the game.”

 

Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer said the return of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions was highly-anticipated.

 

“The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time so this is an exciting announcement for us.”

 

“It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.”

 

“There is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt, it’s great for the game to have it back and we’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition.”

 

Note: Event organisers are grateful for the support for New Zealand government through the Major Events Development Fund, ATEED, H3 and ChristchurchNZ.

 

2019 Kiwis fixtures:

 

Saturday, 22 June – Kiwis v Mate Ma’a Tonga – Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, 25 October – Kiwis v Kangaroos – WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Australia

Saturday, 2 November – Kiwis v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, 9 November – Kiwis  v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

Here’s what went on behind the scenes in England when the Kiwis had free time…

“My heart is black and white, it’s always been like that” – Quentin Pongia talks with us about his rugby league career.

https://www.facebook.com/nzkiwis/videos/2207558136233215/?jazoest=2651001197310180766653111891201078554539966107113807211887991065285488210171848597876810077546753958948103586510012253501181139810965101537111878100558299781215167103115111119567389899790541015049897283686799728081

Captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is back in camp with the Kiwis in England after a week which took him from heroic Test match deeds in Auckland to the birth of his daughter Indigo in Sydney.

The 23-year-old Penrith Panthers star was reunited with his team-mates in Manchester on Sunday night after making the long flight via Dubai to England.

It followed a hectic time following his inspirational display in the Kiwis’ famous 26-24 win over Australia at Mount Smart Stadium on October 13.

It was originally planned that first-time captain Watene-Zelezniak would return to Australia later the day after the Test to be with his wife Purdy for the anticipated birth of their daughter last week.

Unbeknown to him, though, there were some anxious moments on the day of the match.

“My wife was having pains and those types of things but she didn’t want to tell me because she knew how big this game was for us,” he said.

“She didn’t tell me until after the game so I caught the first flight back early the next morning.

“She didn’t end up having baby until Wednesday but I was privileged to be able to have that time off and get back for my daughter’s birth and to support my wife.

“It’s awesome having a little girl (and sister for Orlando). She’s a real blessing to us. I love being a father.

“It was a bit tough to leave (to fly to England) but my wife’s amazing. She gives me the opportunity to be able to come over to represent our country.”

Watene-Zelezniak missed the Kiwis’ stopover in Dubai and Sunday’s first field session at the Wigan Warriors’ training centre in Orrell but he was back on the pitch when the squad was put through a searching examination at the impressive Manchester City FC Academy complex on Monday.

Following the run, he was on the road with team-mates Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich and Kodi Nikorima plus coach Maguire for the launch of the Kiwis’ three-Test series against England at Elland Road in Leeds, the venue for the third Test on November 10.

Saturday’s first Test in Hull will be the ninth of Watene-Zelezniak’s career and his third international under Maguire’s coaching.

“He has been awesome. He gives us a lot of detail and no excuses for not knowing what to do in a game,” he said.

The Kiwis have a recovery day on Tuesday finishing with the entire squad – players and staff – going to Old Trafford to see world football giants Manchester United and Juventus meet in their Champions League contest in front of a sold-out crowd of close to 75,000.

Among the passengers onboard the Kiwis’ Emirates flight from Dubai to Manchester last Thursday was legendary former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, who was seated alongside Kiwi Jordan Rapana and then met Maguire after the flight landed.

On Wednesday the Kiwis train again at the Wigan Warriors’ training facility ahead of the first Test team being named on Thursday.

New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak declared that the Kiwis would only continue to improve as they begun a new era for international football by inflicting the first defeat in Mal Meninga’s tenure as Australian coach.

Kiwis halfback Shaun Johnson led his team to their first win over the Kangaroos since the 2015 Anzac Test, while debutants Joseph Manu and Brandon Smith were among the stars in the 26-24 win at Mt Smart Stadium.

It was the first Test for Australia since Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk stood down from representative football and the retirement of Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston, with just eight members of the Kangaroos team which won last year’s World Cup playing in Auckland.

However the Kiwis also had a new-look team, with Watene-Zelezniak making his debut as captain and Manu and Smith joining the new players blooded in June’s Denver Test against England.

The win is a boost for the game in New Zealand after the disappointment of a World Cup campaign in which they suffered back-to-back losses to Tonga and Fiji and were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

However, Watene-Zelezniak said the Kiwis still had a lot of work to do and would benefit from the upcoming Test series against England.

“It feels so surreal,” Watene-Zelezniak said. “We are still building, We have only set the foundations now but we have to keep building.

“Everyone was just on. We were a bit shaky at times but we this is just the beginning.

“That’s what we came here for to give the fans.

“I think we take a lot of confidence. We have got some work to do but we are on the right track.”

The Kiwis dominated the first half for all but the opening three minutes and the last 60 seconds but Australia led 12-8 at the interval following an early try to Valentine Holmes and another by Dane Gagai just before the siren.

Holmes’s 12th try in his last four Test appearances struck fear into the hearts of New Zealand fans that the new look Kangaroos would be just as dominant as previous versions, after rookie centre Latrell Mitchell drew Jordan Rapana to create an overlap for the Cronulla star over in the third minute.

Possession and field position favoured New Zealand and the home side almost scored in the 18th minute when winger Ken Maumalo planted the ball on the touchline as he tried to dive over in the corner.

Maumalo made amends 10 minutes later when he crossed out wide after prop Martin Taupau delivered his second offload in as many minutes having come off the interchange bench and captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak passed the ball through his legs.

Kiwis centre Joseph Manu scored his first Test try in the 35th minute after forcing his way through the defence of Mitchell and Holmes but halfback Johnson again missed the conversion.

Watene-Zelezniak appeared to have put his team ahead just before half-time when he pounced on a kick from Manu to score but review officials ruled that the Sydney Roosters centre had knocked on before he kicked.

The frustration of the Kiwis was compounded when Gagai scored a long range try after halfback Daly Cherry-Evans sent centre Tom Trbojevic racing down the touchline with just seconds remaining on the clock.

It was a remarkable effort for the Kangaroos to lead 12-8 at half-time given New Zealand had 69% of possession but the Kiwis dominated the second half.

Hooker Brandon Smith put New Zealand ahead for the first time when he crashed his way over in the 54th minute and Johnson converted from close range.

A try to centre Esarn Marsters in the 57th minute extended the Kiwis’ lead to 20-12 after a stepping run by Johnson who linked with Smith and second-rower Isaac Liu.

The star halfback then repeated the effort to set up a try for Rapana after Manu managed an offload the ball despite the attention of Mitchell and Holmes.

However, Australia hit back with back-to-back tries by second-rower Felise Kaufusi and fullback James Tedesco to set up a grandstand finish as the Kiwis tried to hold on for the last four minutes to record their first win since 2015.

The result capped a triple-header of New Zealand v Australia contests at Mt Smart Stadium, with Australia winning the earlier under 20s and women’s contests.

New Zealand Kiwis 26 (Ken Maumalo, Joseph Manu, Brandon Smith, Esan Marsters, Jordan Rapana tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) Australia Kangaroos 24 (Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Felise Kaufusi, James Tedesco tries; Valentine Holmes 4 goals)

 

Auckland, New Zealand, October 13, 2018 – Veteran forward Adam Blair is set to move to second equal on the Kiwis’ all-time appearances list in tonight’s Trans-Tasman Triple Header Test against the Kangaroos at Mount Smart Stadium (7.45pm kick-off).

The 32-year-old former Kiwi captain is named to come off the interchange bench for his 46th Test, drawing level with two other ex-Kiwi skippers Stacey Jones – now a Kiwi assistant coach – and Gary Freeman.

If Blair, who debuted in 2006, appears in all three Tests in England he will move within one appearance of becoming just the second player to appear in 50 Tests for the Kiwis behind Ruben Wiki (55), the former world record holder for international matches.

Vodafone Warriors forward Blair is comfortably the most experienced player in the squad for the end-of-season campaign with his club-mate Shaun Johnson next in line, set to play his 26th Test today.

The other players with more than 20 Test appearances are front rowers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (24) Jesse Bromwich (24) and Marty Taupau (21) while returning second rower Kevin Proctor plays his 18th international tonight.

The Kiwis completed their on-field preparations with their final training session at Mount Smart Stadium yesterday before head coach Michael Maguire and debutant captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak joined Kangaroos counterparts Mal Meninga and Boyd Cordner – also captaining his country for the first time – at a packed media conference. It was followed by a joint photo opportunity with the coaches and captains from the Kiwi Ferns and the Australian Jillaroos, who’ll play in the second leg of the Trans-Tasman Triple Header (5.15pm kick-off). The opening match on the bill (3.05pm) is between the Junior Kiwis, led by 20-year-old Vodafone Warriors second rower Isaiah Papali’i, and the Junior Kangaroos. Papali’i will tour England with the New Zealand Kiwis.

Last night the Kiwis had their Test dinner with legendary 1998-2006 Kiwi Ali Lauitiiti presenting the jerseys to the players. Earlier in the week, Wiki also came into camp to address the team.

Throughout the week there has been a potent mix of former Kiwis throughout all three New Zealand teams.

Maguire has 2008 World Cup-winning Kiwi captain Nathan Cayless and Jones as two of his assistant coaches while two other illustrious Kiwis Nigel Vagana and Motu Tony, both working for the New Zealand Rugby League, are also on the team’s staff.

The Kelvin Wright-coached Kiwi Ferns boast Kiwi and Vodafone Warriors great Simon Mannering on their football staff along with Australian Justin Morgan, the former Vodafone Warriors prop and assistant coach.

Junior Kiwis coach Ezra Howe also has vast international and NRL experiences to call on from his staff in ex-Kiwis Clinton Toopi, Tony Iro and Jerry Seuseu.

 

BUY TICKETS NOW | TRANS-TASMAN SHOWDOWN

 

Saturday, October 13

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

3.05pm | Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos, 3.05pm

5.15pm | Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos, 5.15pm

7.45pm | Kiwis v Kangaroos, 7.45pm

 

 

 

 

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS

7.45pm, Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

 

NEW ZEALAND KIWIS

 

1 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (c)

(Penrith Panthers)

2 KEN MAUMALO

(Vodafone Warriors)

3 ESAN MARSTERS

(Wests Tigers)

4 JOSEPH MANU

(Sydney Roosters)

5 JORDAN RAPANA

(Canberra Raiders)

6 SHAUN JOHNSON

(Vodafone Warriors)

7 KODI NIKORIMA

(Brisbane Broncos)

8 JESSE BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

9 BRANDON SMITH

(Melbourne Storm)

10 JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES

(Sydney Roosters)

11 KEVIN PROCTOR

(Gold Coast Titans)

12 ISAAC LIU

(Sydney Roosters)

13 JAMES FISHER-HARRIS

(Penrith Panthers)

  Interchange:
14 KENNY BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

15 LEESON AH MAU

(St George Illawarra Dragons)

16 MARTIN TAUPAU

(Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)

17 ADAM BLAIR

(Vodafone Warriors)

18 PETA HIKU

(Vodafone Warriors)

19 JAHROME HUGHES

(Melbourne Storm)

 

HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE

2018 NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | END OF SEASON TOUR

 

LEESON AH MAU

(St George Illawarra Dragons/Vodafone Warriors)

Born: December 20, 1989

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Prop

Height: 185cm

Weight: 113kg

Junior Club: Otahuhu Leopards (Auckland)

Other Clubs: North Queensland Cowboys (2010-2011), Vodafone Warriors (2009)

Kiwi Number: 812

Kiwi Test Debut: v England, Denver, 2018

Tests: 1 for Kiwis (2018), 16 for Toa Samoa (2013-2017)

Test Points: 0.

NRL Games: 179 (2009-2018)

NRL Points: 26 (6 tries, 1 goal)

 

GERARD BEALE

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: July 18, 1990

Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia

Position: Fullback/Centre/Wing

Height: 182cm

Weight: 95kg

Junior Club: Logan Brothers (Queensland)

Other NRL Clubs: Brisbane Broncos (2009-2012), St George Illawarra Dragons (2013-2014)

Kiwi Number: 767

Test Debut: v Australia, Newcastle, 2011

Tests: 11 for Kiwis (2011-2017)

Test Points: 20 (5 tries)

NRL Games: 176 (2009-2018)

NRL Points: 188 (47 tries)

 

ADAM BLAIR

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: March 20, 1986

Birthplace: Whangarei, NZ

Position: Prop/Second Row/Loose Forward

Height: 188cm

Weight: 108kg

Junior Club: Northland Carvers (Northland)

Other NRL Clubs: Melbourne Storm (2006-2011), Wests Tigers (2012-2014), Brisbane Broncos (2015-2017)

Kiwi Number: 732

Test Debut: v Australia, Auckland, 2006

Tests: 45 for Kiwis (2006-2017)

Test Points: 8 (2 tries)

NRL Games: 289 (2006-2018)

NRL Points: 48 (12 tries)

 

JESSE BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

Born: May 3, 1989

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Prop

Height: 194cm

Weight: 114kg

Junior Club: Manurewa Marlins (Auckland)

Other NRL Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 775

Test Debut: v Australia, Auckland, 2012

Tests: 24 (2012-2017)

Test Points: 8 (2 tries)

NRL Games: 202 (2010-2018)

NRL Points: 92 (23 tries)

 

KENNY BROMWICH

(Melbourne Storm)

Born: September 22, 1991

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Second Row

Height: 183cm

Weight: 105kg

Junior Club: Manurewa Marlins (Auckland)

Other NRL Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 796

Test Debut: v Australia, Newcastle, 2016

Tests: 3 for Kiwis (2016-2017)

Test Points: 4 (1 try)

NRL Games: 123 (2013-2018)

NRL Points: 52 (13 tries)

 

JAMES FISHER-HARRIS

(Penrith Panthers)

Born: January 5, 1996

Birthplace: Rawene, NZ

Position: Second Row/Prop/Loose Forward

Height: 187cm

Weight: 105kg

Junior Club: Marist Brothers (Whangarei)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 801

Kiwi Test Debut: v Scotland, Workington, 2016

Tests: 2 for Kiwis (2016-2018)

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 63 (2016-2018)

NRL Points: 20 (5 tries)

 

PETA HIKU

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: December 4, 1992

Birthplace: Gisborne, NZ

Position: Centre/Standoff/Fullback

Height: 181cm

Weight: 98kg

Junior Club: Manurewa Marlins (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Warrington Wolves (2017), Penrith Panthers (2016-2017), Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (2013-2015)

Kiwi Number: 781

Kiwi Test Debut: v Australia, Sydney, 2014

Tests: 11 for Kiwis (2014-2018)

Test Points: 12 (3 tries)

NRL Games: 102 (2013-2018)

NRL Points: 158 (38 tries, 3 goals)

 

JAHROME HUGHES

(Melbourne Storm)

Born: October 8, 1994

Birthplace: Wellington, NZ

Position: Utility back

Height: 183cm

Weight: 91kg

Junior Club: Currumbin Eagles (Queensland)

Other Clubs: North Queensland Cowboys (2016), Gold Coast Titans (2013)

Kiwi Number: Yet to make debut

Kiwi Test Debut: Yet to make debut

Tests: 0

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 17 (2013-2018)

NRL Points: 24 (6 tries)

 

JAMAYNE ISAAKO

(Brisbane Broncos)

Born: June 6, 1996

Birthplace: Christchurch, NZ

Position: Wing

Height: 180cm

Weight: 95kg

Junior Club: Aranui Eagles (Christchurch)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 808

Kiwi Test Debut: v England, Denver, 2018

Tests: 1 for Kiwis (2018)

Test Points: 6 (3 goals)

NRL Games: 26 (2017-2018)

NRL Points: 239 (11 tries, 97 goals, 1 field goal)

 

SHAUN JOHNSON

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: September 9, 1990

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Halfback

Height: 179cm

Weight: 89kg

Junior Club: Hibiscus Coast Raiders (Auckland)

Other NRL Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 774

Test Debut: v Australia, Auckland, 2012

Tests: 25 (2012-2017)

Test Points: 183 (11 tries, 69 goals, 1 field goal)

NRL Games: 162 (2011-2018)

NRL Points: 917 (63 tries, 326 goals, 13 field goals)

 

ISAAC LIU

(Sydney Roosters)

Born: April 26, 1991

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Loose Forward/Prop

Height: 187cm

Weight: 107kg

Junior Clubs: Otahuhu Leopards, Pakuranga Jaguars (Auckland); Keebra Park State High School (Queensland)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 805

Kiwi Test Debut: v Toa Samoa, Auckland, 2017

Tests: 3 for Kiwis (2017), 5 for Toa Samoa (2014-2015)

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 134 (2013-2018)

NRL Points: 44 (11 tries)

 

JOSEPH MANU

(Sydney Roosters)

Born: June 29, 1996

Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ

Position: Centre/Wing

Height: 192cm

Weight: 98kg

Junior Club: Currumbin Eagles (Queensland)

Other Clubs: North Queensland Cowboys (2016), Gold Coast Titans (2013)

Kiwi Number: Yet to make debut

Kiwi Test Debut: Yet to make debut

Tests: 0

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 45 (2016-2018)

NRL Points: 56 (14 tries)

 

ESAN MARSTERS

(Wests Tigers)

Born: August 17, 1996

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Centre

Height: 185cm

Weight: 105kg

Junior Club: Mount Albert Lions (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 809

Kiwi Test Debut: v England, Denver, 2018

Tests: 1 Test for Kiwis (2018), 2 for Cook Islands (2015-2017)

Test Points: 8 (2 tries)

NRL Games: 37 (2017-2018)

NRL Points: 144 (8 tries, 56 goals)

 

KEN MAUMALO

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: June 16, 1994

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Wing

Height: 191cm

Weight: 107kg

Junior Club: Papatoetoe Panthers (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 810

Kiwi Test Debut: v England, Denver, 2018

Tests: 1 Test for Kiwis (2018), 4 for Toa Samoa (2016-2017)

Test Points: 12 (3 tries)

NRL Games: 64 (2015-2018)

NRL Points: 56 (14 tries)

 

KODI NIKORIMA

(Brisbane Broncos)

Born: April 3, 1994

Birthplace: Palmerston North, NZ

Position: Halfback/Standoff

Height: 174cm

Weight: 83kg

Junior Club: Aspley Devils (Queensland)

Other NRL Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 790

Kiwi Test Debut: v England, Hull, 2015

Tests: 9 (2015-2018)

Test Points: 4 (1 try)

NRL Games: 79 (2015-2018)

NRL Points: 80 (20 tries)

 

AGNATIUS PAASI

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: November 30, 1991

Birthplace: Lapaha, Tonga

Position: Prop

Height: 182cm

Weight: 113kg

Junior Club: Mangere East Hawks (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Gold Coast Titans (2015-2017), Vodafone Warriors (2014)

Kiwi Number: Yet to make debut

Kiwi Test Debut: Yet to make debut

Tests: 1 for Mate Ma’a Tonga (2014)

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 78 (2014-2018)

NRL Points: 40 (10 tries)

 

ISAIAH PAPALI’I

(Vodafone Warriors)

Born: September 20, 1998

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Second Row

Height: 182cm

Weight: 108kg

Junior Clubs: Te Atatu Roosters and Richmond Rovers (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: Yet to make debut

Kiwi Test Debut: Yet to make debut

Tests: 1 for Toa Samoa (2018)

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 25 (2017-2018)

NRL Points: 16 (4 tries)

 

KEVIN PROCTOR

(Gold Coast Titans)

Born: February 28, 1989

Birthplace: Te Kuiti, NZ

Position: Second Row

Height: 189cm

Weight: 105kg

Junior Club: Tugun Seahawks (Queensland)

Other NRL Clubs: Melbourne Storm (2008-2016)

Kiwi Number: 771

Test Debut: v Australia, Townsville, 2012

Tests: 17 (2012-2017)

Test Points: 8 (2 tries)

NRL Games: 218 (2008-2018)

NRL Points: 138 (34 tries, 1 goal)

 

JORDAN RAPANA

(Canberra Raiders)

Born: August 15, 1989

Birthplace: Wellington, NZ

Position: Wing/Fullback

Height: 187cm

Weight: 100kg

Junior Club: Tugun Seahawks (Queensland)

Other NRL Clubs: Gold Coast Titans (2008)

Kiwi Number: 798

Kiwi Test Debut: v Australia, Perth, 2016

Tests: 8 for Kiwis (2016-2017), 3 for Cook Islands (2013-2015)

Test Points: 16 (4 tries)

NRL Games: 97 (2008-2018)

NRL Points: 268 (67 tries)

 

BRANDON SMITH

(Melbourne Storm)

Born: May 31, 1996

Birthplace: Waiheke Island, NZ

Position: Hooker

Height: 180cm

Weight: 94kg

Junior Club: Waiheke Rams (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: Yet to make debut

Kiwi Test Debut: Yet to make debut

Tests: 0

Test Points: 0

NRL Games: 21 (2017-2018)

NRL Points: 8 (2 tries)

 

JOSEPH TAPINE

(Canberra Raiders)

Born: May 4, 1994

Birthplace: Wellington, NZ

Position: Second Row

Height: 188cm

Weight: 108kg

Junior Club: Harbour City Eagles (Wellington)

Other NRL Clubs: Newcastle Knights (2014-2015)

Kiwi Number: 800

Kiwi Test Debut: v Scotland, Workington (2016)

Tests: 8 (2016-2018)

Test Points: 4 (1 try)

NRL Games: 83 (2014-2018)

NRL Points: 56 (14 tries)

 

MARTIN TAUPAU

(Manly Sea Eagles)

Born: February 3, 1990

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Prop

Height: 190cm

Weight: 112kg

Junior Clubs: Padstow Panthers, Greenacre Tigers (New South Wales)

Other Clubs: Wests Tigers (2014-2015), Canterbury-Bankstown (2010-2013)

Kiwi Number: 785

Kiwi Test Debut: v Australia, Sydney, 2014

Tests: 21 for Kiwis (2014-2018), 1 for Samoa (2013)

Test Points: 0 for Kiwis

NRL Games: 132 (2010-2018)

NRL Points: 48 (12 tries)

 

JARED WAEREA-HARGREAVES

(Sydney Roosters)

Born: January 20, 1989

Birthplace: Rotorua, NZ

Position: Prop

Height: 193cm

Weight: 108kg

Junior Club: North Sydney rugby union (New South Wales)

Other NRL Clubs: Manly (2009)

Kiwi Number: 755

Kiwi Test Debut: v Tonga, Rotorua, 2009

Tests: 24 Tests (2009-2018)

Test Points: 8 (2 tries)

NRL Games: 199 (2009-2018)

NRL Points: 44 (11 tries)

 

DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

(Penrith Panthers)

Born: August 17, 1995

Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ

Position: Fullback/Wing

Height: 186cm

Weight: 97kg

Junior Clubs: College Old Boys (Hamilton), St Clair Comets (New South Wales)

Other Clubs: Nil

Kiwi Number: 794

Kiwi Test Debut: v Australia, Newcastle, 2016

Tests: 7 (2016-2018)

Test Points: 12 (3 tries)

NRL Games: 96 (2014-2018)

NRL Points: 160 (40 tries)