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.
May 20, 2022
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is proud to announce that 2022 will see the much-awaited return of the National Secondary Schools Tournament, one of the most significant events in the rugby league calendar.
After a three year hiatus, schools from around the motu will be able to again showcase their rugby league talent as the best young players in Aotearoa battle it out in the Bay of Plenty. Puketawhero Park and the International Stadium in Rotorua will host the competition for the first time.
The 2022 National Secondary Schools tournament will also introduce two new grades, with the U15 Boys Carnival and the inaugural Girls Championship adding more exciting rugby league to an already blockbuster event.
The competition will be spread over eight days, with the U15 Boys Carnival kicking off on Saturday, 27 August, from Bay of Plenty’s Puketawhero Park. The Senior Boys and Girls grades will conclude the tournament, playing their finals on Saturday the 3rd of September.
Senior Secondary Schools qualify through Zonal and regional qualifiers to reach the Rotorua-based competition. Each team entering the National Secondary Schools Tournament must have a referral from their respective Zone contact.
If you would like to receive more information, please register your interest here: https://www.sporty.co.nz/viewform/198093
National Secondary Schools Tournament
U15 Boys Carnival, Saturday 27 – Monday 29 August 2022
Venue; Puketawhero Park, Rotorua
– Up to 16 teams
– Composite schools permitted.
Senior Boys, Tuesday 30 August – Saturday 3 September 2022
Senior Boys Premiership
– Up to 12 teams
Senior Boys Championship
Girls, Tuesday 30 August – Saturday 3 September 2022
Venue; International Stadium, Rotorua
Team Accommodation in Rotorua
New Zealand Rugby League work alongside and recommend Rotorua Information Site to assist with team accommodation for teams travelling to Rotorua.
If teams are needing assistance in finding accommodation please contact Kyle Kydd.
Kyle Kydd, Visitor Experience Manager; M +64 217 600 52 | e: [email protected]
April 18 2022
Bruce Pulman Park played host to the U18 finals of the National District 9’s Competition on a windy day in the South of Auckland.
The National District 9’s final day kicked off with the seventh vs eighth playoff as Southland vs Canterbury kicked off a southern derby. In a tightly contested match, Southland’s three length of the field tries were not enough as they went down 16-12 in the day’s first game. Manawatu and Southland boys then took the field, with the contest going deep into golden point, where a late try in the left corner from Manawatu sealed the 16-12 victory.
Fifth vs sixth saw Waikato girls take on Auckland’s Glenora Bears. A fightback late was not enough for the Waikato side as Glenora won the match 18-10. Wellington then took on locals Manurewa Marlins as both teams traded blows during the half, with the scores at 4-4 going into the break. The Marlins took control of the second half, scoring two unanswered tries to win a comfortably, 12-4.
Otahuhu and Bay of Plenty girls played another scintillating golden point affair as both teams couldn’t be separated after 18 minutes. With only seconds remaining in golden point, quick thinking from the Bay of Plenty side saw them cross over and take the 14-10 win. Otahuhu boys went up against Waikato in their third vs fourth matchup as late tries from both teams saw another golden point thriller. Both teams went into the extra period on 18 points. When a 40-metre field-goal effort from Waikato excruciatingly hit the left upright, Otahuhu capitalised and took the game 22-18.
The first vs second finals kicked off as Auckland’s Howick Hornets faced off against the Wellington Orcas. Howick hit first to go up 4-0 early. Wellington, however, scored two consecutive tries off Howick’s mistakes to go into the half up 8-4. On the back of several penalties, Howick finally found a way through going over in the right corner to tie the game with under three minutes remaining. A late raid in the dying embers saw Wellington snatch the game at the death, winning 12-8 to capture the first U18s Girls National District 9’s title.
The boys saw Canterbury vs the Bay of Plenty after an early battle back and forth, Canterbury opened the scoring early and on the stroke as they took a convincing 8-0 lead into the break. The South Island side proved dominant, scoring three second-half tries to run out 20-0 winners and take home the U18s Boys National District 9’s trophy for 2022.
April 10, 2022
The Mid Central Vipers played host to the Canterbury Bulls in the final round of the SkySport Women’s Premiership as both teams clashed at Palmerston Norths’ Central Energy Trusts Arena.
Canterbury was the first to strike as a strong kick return from Bulls standout Mikayla Werahiko put the South Island side in striking distance. Off the ensuing play fullback, Dayna Napa went over breaking through a scrambling Vipers defense to go up 4-0.
Werahiko then got herself on the scoresheet attacking a cross-field kick to go over untouched in the corner. Moments later half Cassie Siataga hung another cross-field kick up, this time to the right-hand side which took a wicked bounce, falling into the lap of winger Sailai Pau to put the Bulls up by 12.
In the 13th minute, Mid Central hit back through hooker Paris Paul whose craftiness and footwork out of dummy half saw her beat several defenders to score under the post as the Vipers brought it to 12-6.
Mid Central started the second stanza in good stead and this paid off in the 45th minute as middle Agnes Faraimo barged over close to the line to level the scores.
Canterbury though off the back off Vipers mistakes crushed any momentum as Talosaga Manu crashed over in the same vein as Faraimo to put the Bulls up by a converted try. With ten minutes left to go, number 19 Theresa McPherson went over in the corner which proved to be the dagger as Canterbury went out 22-12 winners.
Tries: Napa, Werahiko, Pau, Manu, McPherson
Conversions: Siataga (1/5)
Tries: Paul, Faraimo
Conversions: Bates (2/2)
27 March 2022
Auckland’s Trusts Stadium held host to South Island and Waikato, with Waikato seeking their first win of the competition.
The South Island side did not take long to open their account, half Oliver Lawry taking advantage of a Uriah Tuli break to go over in the second minute. 14 minutes in Waikato hit back, hooker Tahere Kaio-Koroheke taking advantage of lazy ruck defense to sneak over from dummy-half. Te Awa Daniela converted to take a 6-4 lead.
South Island’s Lawry turned provider in the 19th minute as he put second-rower Tupou Kaufofona through from close range to retake the lead. Moments later Tuli again found himself in space and this time finished, scoring a scintillating solo try as the South Island side went into the break, up 16-6.
Five minutes into the second stanza a dummy half break from Kiardyn Hatch was turned into points as South Island shifted left finding Taani Fangupo who crashed over. Halbert-Pere making it 22-6. After receiving multiple penalties breakdown in the play saw Waikato prop Portman Paul fight off several defenders to bring them to with two converted tries. With five minutes remaining, Prop George Faiava snuffed out any semblance of a comeback crashing over under the posts with Jacob Lowe adding the extras.
Two minutes from time, Deijdre Siaki leapt over the pack to reign in a cross-field kick to score his first of the afternoon. Not to be outdone, Oliver Lawry connected with Jacob Lowe as he scored seconds from the buzzer to complete the victory.
South Island – 40
Tries: Lawry, Kaufofonga, Tuli, Fangupo, Faiava, Siaki, Lowe.
Conversions: Halbert-Pere (3/4), Lowe (3/3)
Waikato – 10
Tries: Kaio-Koroheke, Paul.
Conversions: Daniela (1/1), Stillinovich-Watene (0/1)
March 18 2022
by Richard Becht and Photosport.nz
as seen on warriors.kiwi
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.
March 13 2022
Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai hosted both South Island and Akarana for their first hit-outs of the 2022 Ruben Wiki Cup.
Akarana asserted themselves immediately, quickly moving into the swing of the game and converting this early dominance into points as Northcote winger Tupala Faaee went over untouched in the corner.
Ten minutes in, Akarana found themselves over again through Faaee as the Falcons went to a short side shift, capitalising on an overlap to make the score 8-0 to the visitors.
Dominating the opening exchanges, Captain Doux-Fiatau-Kauhiva intercepted a loose pass to put winger Esom Ioka down the right-hand side extending the lead to 14-0 as Joshua Tanielu converted.
South Island found a way through as three quick penalties pushed them down onto the Akarana line. Tupou Kaufononga was able to turn that field position into points as he crashed over around the ruck to bring the game to 14-6 going into the half.
Eight minutes into the second stanza saw Sebastian Su’a fight his way over for a four-pointer. A superb break by Ioka put Akarana into dangerous territory and a short ball by Fiatau-Kauhiva put Su’a into a hole where he was able to score. Faaee converted to make it a 20-6 game.
With the contest going back and forth, Akarana took the game into their own hands and were able to extend their advantage in the 60th minute. A clinical set-piece saw Lani Graham-Taufa push the score to a comfortable 24-6.
With 15 minutes left in the match, South Island produced their best displays of the afternoon as Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua and fullback Kiardyn Hatch put themselves on the scoresheet in quick succession to make the game a tight contest. Missed conversions were costly as they were unable to complete the comeback with Akarana sneaking through 24-20 to end round 1.
Next week South Island hosts Upper Central Stallions and Akarana meet Counties in the Auckland derby at Trusts Stadium.
Akarana – 20
Tupala Faaee (x2), Esom Ioka, Sebastian Su’a, Lani Graham-Taufa.
Faaee (1/3), Tanielu (1/2)
South Island – 20
Tupou Kaufononga, Makaia Tafua, Ethan Faitaua, Kiardyn Hatch.
Jacob Lowe (2/4)
22 October 2021
In light of yesterday’s Covid announcement, the following National Competition games have been cancelled due to a Level 3 extension in the Waikato: Waikato Mana v Upper Central Zone Men and remaining Upper Central Women’s games against Mid Central and Canterbury. The competition points for each game will be shared.
The National Competition finals are taking place next Saturday, 30 October at Nga Puna Wai stadium in Christchurch.
Canterbury Women and Wellington Orcas Women will face off in the Sky Sport National Women’s competition final at 12 pm. Then the Canterbury Bulls will take on the Upper Central Stallions in the National Men’s Final at 2 pm. Both games will be televised live on Sky Sport.
*Please note there are no Waikato based players in the Upper Central Stallions Men’s team.
The 2nd place Final between the Otago Whalers and Wellington Orcas is also scheduled for Saturday 30 October; kick-off time and broadcasting are to be confirmed pending travel arrangements.
NZRL would like to thank all zones, districts and players for their understanding and co-operation during this time.
In the meantime, NZRL encourages all those in Level 3 regions, Tāmaki Makaurau and Waikato, to stick to their bubbles, wear a face mask, and continue to abide by Covid protocol.
Any person feeling unwell or presenting cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact their doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
30 June 2021
Rugby league has this week lost a precious taonga.
Cathy Friend QSM, the first woman to receive an NZRL Life Membership passed away on Tuesday, June 29
A loved and respected kuia and a stalwart of the game, Cathy’s time in rugby league stretched over seven decades and saw her awarded Life Membership to the Auckland Rugby League, Auckland Māori Rugby League, New Zealand Māori Rugby League and New Zealand Rugby League, becoming the first female inductee of the latter organisation.
A veteran of the Manukau and Otahuhu clubs, Friend started her rugby league career as a teenager working in administration.
She was a driving force behind NZ Maori participation in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup earning the Maori Sports Administrator of the Year.
She has also been awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for her contribution to the game, and in 2017 she became the first-ever kaumātua kuia of the ARL. As of 2019, the award for Auckland’s best female player each year carries her name.
In more recent years, despite struggles with her health, Cathy remained a valued mentor and sounding board for people across the rugby league landscape and regularly still attended ARL events and club functions.
Much loved wife of the late Ivan Lionel Friend and dearly loved Mother and Mother-in-law of Andrew (Deceased), Carmen and Whetu, Clayton and Joanne, Tony and Gus, Jackie & Neil plus Nana ‘Bubbles’ to many moko.
Bub will be laying in state at Kokako Lodge, 235 Falls Rd, Hunua.
A service for Cathy will be held at the Otahuhu Rugby League Club on Friday 2nd July 2021 at 11am. Then burial at Mangere Lawn Cemetery to follow.”
28 June 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) held its annual general meeting on Saturday, 26th June.
The AGM reflected on an encouraging financial performance and a strong rebuild post the initial impact of Covid, as NZRL (parent) announced a $750,000 profit and $1m when consolidated with the seven Zones.
CEO Greg Peters said, “We are finally in a stabilised financial position following significant losses in 2017/18 and 2018/19 and after an improved performance in 2019/20.
“The recent announcement regarding our renewed and improved partnership with Sky combined with other new revenue lines will see significantly increased investment into the grassroots game via our Zones. This is the first substantial increase for many years.”
However, Peters was quick to note the Covid risk is still very present.
“Although positive we aren’t out of the woods yet. There are ongoing risks, and we know how quickly things can change; nevertheless, we are now in a position where we can better grow the game and its opportunities throughout the country.”
The 2021 AGM also saw Reon Edwards retire from his role as NZRL Chairman while long-serving Director Hugh Martyn was appointed as the new chair of NZRL.
Newly elected Chairman, Hugh Martyn, had served on the NZRL board for three years as deputy chair and as Acting CEO for six months in 2018; he brings significant governance experience coupled with a dedication to rugby league and an admiration for its impact.
“Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Reon on the huge contribution and leadership he’s provided during his time as Chair and Director,” says Martyn.
“His outstanding service and dedication over the last six years have seen him guide and lead the organisation successfully through some trying times. It’s an honour to be given this opportunity; however, Reon will be sorely missed, I wish him all the best with his future endeavours.”
Martyn adds, “In my three years, I have learnt so much about what a difference rugby league can make. The rugby league community has inspired me with the passion and heart that they bring to the game and the good the game does.
“I’m grateful to be able to play an ongoing part in the direction and growth of rugby league in New Zealand, as collectively, we look to achieve great things for our game, communities and people. It is a privilege to be appointed as NZRL’s Chairman.”
Natasha Tere was elected as Deputy Chair of NZRL. She boasts over 15 years of strategic and operational management experience and is passionate about sports administration.
Tere was on the Board of Canterbury Netball for eight years and Chairperson of the Canterbury Tactix. She brings rugby league knowledge at a grassroots level, sitting on the Southern Zone board since 2017 and is driven to improve stakeholder engagement and cultural and social diversity.
The AGM also welcomed two new director appointments in Jeni Pearce MNZM (Independent) and Justin Leydesdorff (Knowledgeable).
Jeni Pearce is an internationally recognised New Zealand sports scientist who has worked in the high-performance environment in both New Zealand and England for the past 13 years.
Pearce is also a well-respected published author, authoring 12 books and selling over 170,000 copies. She doubled as a university and public lecturer and was awarded a Member of the New Zealand of Merit in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Sports Nutrition.
Justin Leydesdorff brings with him over 20 years of experience in governance and senior leadership positions surrounding the delivery of sport and recreation in New Zealand.
Leydesdorff worked as an independent Board member and Chairperson for Counties Manukau Rugby League from April 2015 to July 2020 and joined the Zone’s Risk and Audit Committee from July 2020 until April 2021.
NZRL Chairman Hugh Martyn says, “Jeni brings with her an abundance of governance experience, and her accolades and honours are a testament to the value she provides.
“Justin is well respected in the rugby league community, and his experience, passion and connection to our game make him a valuable addition. We are very fortunate to have two candidates of this calibre join our team.”
To conclude the AGM, NZRL awarded the following with Distinguished Service Awards: Des Michael O’Sullivan, William ‘Bill’ Mann, George Tuata Tahapehi, Alana Lockhorst and Barrie Robert James Law.
The NZRL Board is Hugh Martyn (Chair), Natasha Tere (Deputy Chair), Tawera Nikau, Grant Stapleton, Paula Kearns, Jeni Pearce, and Justin Leydesdorff.
01 June 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is pleased to confirm a busy NZ16s and NZ18s representative schedule for the year in liaison with New Zealand Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) and Auckland Rugby League (ARL).
NZRL recently announced the selection of an NZ18s Girls Schools team off the back of the inaugural NZRL Secondary Schools Girl’s Competition in August. The NZ18s Girls will take on the Auckland 18s Girls on Sunday, 3 October.
The Auckland 18s side will be selected off the back of the Auckland Rugby League (ARL) Region of Origin. The ARL Region of Origin provides a pathway for players unavailable to participate in the NZRL Secondary Schools or NZMRL Rangatahi Tournaments to represent Auckland in a trial game against New Zealand Secondary School Girls.
ARL CEO Greg Whaiapu says: “It’s really exciting to be able to offer up these opportunities for our local Auckland players and we’re looking forward to being part of the NZRL’s annual competitions.”
“The girls-specific grades are the fastest growing area of our game right now and it’s an important next step that we continue to offer more opportunities for our players and coaches in those grades to earn honours at a higher level.
“We also want to encourage and help the other districts around New Zealand to keep growing the female game.”
New Zealand Māori Rugby League (NZMRL) will select a squad to participate in the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective Tournament (15th – 17th October) off the back of their NZMRL Rangatahi Tournament over Queen’s Birthday weekend in June.
John Devonshire, NZMRL Chairman, says, “This is an outstanding opportunity for our seven foundation member nations to come together in an inaugural Pasifika Aotearoa Collective (PAC) rangatahi side.”
“For so long we have competed against each other at many levels, the opportunity for our Cook Island, Fijian, Niuean, NZ Māori, Samoan, Tongan and Tokelauns to play together side by side is incredible. We are grateful to Motu Tony and the NZRL for this opportunity to create our own PAC history.”
From there, NZMRL will then finalise their 18s Kotiro team to take on the NZ18s Girls at the NZMRL Tuakana Tournament in Rotorua on October 23rd.
John Devonshire, adds, “For our Māori Kotiro 18’s side to participate in this historical match is right. NZ Māori, along with the ARL have been the key drivers in the kotiro space. The match is a reflection of the momentum that kotiro rugby league is having in NZ. Well done Lui and the NZRL; this has been a long time in the making, it is here now – bring it on!”
The NZMRL Tuakana Tournament will also play host to a clash between the NZ Resident 16s and the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective 17s (Boys).
The NZ Resident 16s team will comprise of the best players from the NZRL National Youth Tournament held in early October, while the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective 17s will be the merit team selected from the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective Tournament.
Luisa Avaiki, Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, says the new representative clashes are huge milestones for the game.
“It’s so exciting to provide these playing opportunities which reflect the hard mahi going into growing and developing our women’s space across the country.”
“Thank you to ARL and NZMRL, who have pioneered the girls game for many years now. It’s exciting to come together and provide opportunities for girls to play rugby league at a representative level. It adds a layer of incentive and fosters further pathways that encourage participation growth and player development.
“I can’t wait to see what the girls produce come the end of the year.”
NZ18s Schools v Clubs also returns for its second year, which will see the best 18s players from the NZRL Secondary School Competition and NZRL Youth Tournament face off in October. NZRL will release further detail on the clash in due course.
April 29 2021
The Warriors have secured two of New Zealand’s hottest young prospects Zyon Maiuu and Jacob Laban on three-year contracts to add more quality to the club’s playing depth for the future.
The 17-year-old Kelston Boys’ High School students are regarded by Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan as New Zealand’s best young second rowers.
“We are very excited to lock up Zyon and Jacob for the next three years,” O’Sullivan said.
“Both boys complement each other beautifully, Zyon with his competitiveness, skill and toughness and ability to play edge and middle equally as well as the other while Jacob is a gifted, athletic edge back rower with a huge motor.”
Laban, a Randwick Kingfishers junior, moved to Auckland from Wellington this year to complete his year 13 studies and prepare for the next step of his rugby league career with the Warriors.
Maiuu was named the MVP after the recent NZRL National 20s competition.
“Both boys live together as we wanted a good family home for Jacob and can’t thank Paula and Tooma (Zyon’s mum and dad) enough for taking Jacob in and giving him a great environment to live in,” said O’Sullivan.
“They are thriving and pushing each other in their training, playing and general life skills. It’s also a great story for Kelston Boys’ High School and our working relationship with the school.
“Both boys made a huge impression on the staff when they joined the New Zealand-based top squad in the preseason last year.
“They both looked very much at home and despite their age mixed it with the big boys.
“I can’t wait for them to join the top squad in November and get their NRL dreams into action as I have no doubt the boys will go on and become Warriors in the next few years.”
Maiuu, a Te Atatu Roosters product, played for the Warriors in last year’s Covid-shortened SG Ball Cup competition while he has also played for Kelston’s First XV rugby union side. He was named in the New Zealand Under-18 Schools team last year.
Laban, who attended St Bernard’s College before moving to Auckland, was named College Sport Wellington’s rugby league player of the year in 2019. He was selected in the New Zealand Resident 16s squad last year.
21 April 2021
Rugby League has joined nine other national sporting bodies alongside NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby in backing the Sport NZ Balance is Better Statement of Intent first announced in September 2019.
NZRL joins the collective and individual action underway to keep young people in sport by putting a stronger focus on fun and development, reviewing existing competition structures and encouraging youth to play multiple sports rather than specialising too early.
The nine new sports to onboard the collective alongside rugby league are Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ and Waka Ama NZ.
Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle says it is great to see these sports formally commit to these important changes.
“We need to change what is offered and how we engage with young people. There needs to be quality opportunities for all participants, not just the best players.”
“Sport is a huge part of our society and important for the wellbeing of so many New Zealanders, however the way sport is delivered has not kept up with what young people are looking for. We know that because they’re telling us and many are also walking away.”
“The original five sports have done some excellent work and we now have ten more making this important commitment. This is another encouraging day for youth sport in New Zealand,” says Raelene Castle.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says NZRL has long supported this initiative.
“It is hugely important Rugby league is an enjoyable and safe place for our communities to flourish, so there’s no questioning our support for the Balance is Better initiative. It’s great we can formally commit to this kaupapa and continue to work alongside other codes in providing positive sporting opportunities for youth across Aotearoa.”
The commitments outlined in the Statement of Intent are:
To join the collective stand, national sports organisations must commit at executive and board level, and put resources behind making changes to how they deliver youth sport.
“This is an important step, but it is not their first. They’ve all been on a journey to get to this point, as are many other national sporting bodies,” says Raelene Castle.
“There is real momentum behind these changes – a widespread recognition that we need to work hard and work differently to create quality and fun experiences that will keep kids in sport. This is great for participants, future talent and for our sector.”
19 April 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has been given a once in a generation opportunity to improve and transform the code as part of the Government’s COVID-19 Sport Recovery Package.
Of this recovery package, Sport NZ’s ‘Strengthen and Adapt’ phase aims to help sector organisations make changes necessary to ensure they are future-proofed in order to operate successfully in the post-pandemic environment.
NZRL completed an in-depth research process involving key rugby league stakeholder groups to determine the code’s current positioning, gaps and pressure points.
Using the feedback and insights gained, NZRL created its ‘Strengthen and Adapt’ response plan, ‘Ngā Ringa Āwhina’ – an initiative designed to support increased capability across the rugby league network at all levels in New Zealand.
Sport NZ will contribute $750,000 towards NZRL’s Ngā Ringa Āwhina project over 18 months (April 2021 – June 2022). NZRL will be supplementing this amount to ensure the programme is sustainable and also can continue to exist past the initial Sport NZ funding period.
The kaupapa of Ngā Ringa Āwhina is ‘the helping or supportive hands’ and encapsulates the concept of working alongside Zones, Districts, Clubs and communities, as a partner, in a mana enhancing way.
In short, Ngā Ringa Āwhina aims to establish initiatives of trained (and externally supported) specialists deployed into regions as agreed with Zones, Districts and Clubs following an analysis of needs, to support their existing personnel in making improvements, and leave resources in place for long term sustainability.
The four main components of Ngā Ringa Āwhina are as follows:
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says this is a massive opportunity for rugby league.
“The desired outcome of Ngā Ringa Āwhina is a rugby league network that is consistent, confident, credible, and professional. A safe, supportive environment reflective of and integral to our communities. This has the potential to have a significant long-term impact on the game in New Zealand.”
Sport New Zealand CEO, Raelene Castle says, “We have worked alongside Greg and the NZRL team in the development of Ngā Ringa Āwhina and we are excited about the opportunity this represents for the Rugby League community.
“Sport New Zealand’s strengthen and adapt programme aims to support our National Partners to rebuild post-Covid-19 and make changes to operate successfully post-pandemic, strengthening their capability and capacity and creating a better future for the communities they serve. We look forward to seeing the programme hit the ground.”
09 April 2021
Aspiring Her Game Developer 2021 is the first female-only game developers programme created and implemented by Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, Luisa Avaiki.
Aspiring Her has been created to strengthen and widen the female talent pool in rugby league both on and off the field.
The development programme looks to call on current wahine in the game carrying out various roles and connect them with a wider community of aspiring women.
NZRL in liaison with Zone General Managers and Development Officers, have identified a pool of influential females and volunteers throughout the regions to work as Aspiring Her Game Developers.
These Aspiring Her Game Developers consist of female coaches, administrators, managers, leaders, match officials, trainers, and board member. Their task is to mentor and empower females in their respective regions, both on and off the field, to reach their full potential.
In its pilot year, the programme will run for 12 months and will provide support at all levels, all-female lead and facilitated. This includes regular zoom workshops, mentoring sessions as well as an annual conference, coupled with ongoing Zone and Regional support, NZRL Game Developer support and the facilitation of individualised personal development plans.
The inaugural Aspiring Her Game Development Conference is taking place in Auckland this weekend (9-11 April) which is designed for the newly identified Aspiring Her Game Developers and trainers to implement a support plan for the year.
Ultimately the programme’s objective is to see a well-established National Female Developer Network that strengthens the female game through increased opportunities that empower female participants in rugby league associated roles.
Going forward, Aspiring Her Game Developers will also look to identify other females capable of stepping into mentorship roles, further widening the influence pool and support network.
Programme Founder and Head of Women’s Rugby League at NZRL, Luisa Avaiki, says this is one of the first female led game development programmes of its kind.
“This kind of development network for our women has never been seen in rugby league. We are making exciting progress in our female space regarding growing playing numbers and new women’s competitions, so it is essential to capitalise on this by enhancing the capability and opportunities for women across the board, both in a football and administration capacity.
“The Aspiring Her Programme will look to implement a system that enables regions to strengthen and develop their people, so the momentum is felt across all levels and in all districts throughout New Zealand.
“The power of our programme comes from women inspiring women. It’s a privilege to have such influential wahine in our game who are willing to share their skills and expertise and ultimately pave the way for generations of successful women in rugby league.”
26 February 2021
New Zealand Rugby League and Auckland Rugby League have collaborated to design a new approach to junior rugby league, which will see significant changes come into effect from this year.
After working alongside the NZRL to set out the vision for junior league in the country, the ARL will rollout the new Junior Development Framework (JDF) in full for all mini/mod (U6-U12) grades in 2021.
Supported by the NZRL, the ARL has piloted aspects of the framework in various children’s grades in Auckland since 2017, seeking consultation from local coaches, players, managers and club chairs along the way.
While the ARL will implement the new JDF immediately, the NZRL will be adopting a staggered approach with their regions in the rollout of the new framework.
The biggest changes are in the U6 grade where children have their first experience of organised rugby league.
Under the JDF the first eight weeks of the U6 season will be played under League Tag (non-contact) rules, while come the second half of the season teams will have the choice of continuing to play League Tag or to switch to traditional contact rugby league.
For that grade it will be mandatory for coaches to deliver a six-week tackle confidence programme through the opening two months of the season, regardless of which form of the game they choose for the second part of the year.
In relation to skill development and encouraging decision making in the formative years, a crucial aspect is the introduction of first-receiver bibs for the U8-U12 grades, with dummy-half bibs also being used from the U9-U12 grades.
Both bibs allow the player wearing it to run, score and be tackled without two passes being required or a change of possession being triggered (normal mini-mod rules state that two passes must be achieved to retain possession).
ARL game development and participation manager Sam Cawdron said the framework was about evolving the game to suit the attitudes and needs of those involved at junior levels.
“The JDF is heavily geared towards teaching safer tackling and giving kids confidence in contact, along with encouraging skill development, decision making and a learning and play-orientated approach for our youngest players,” Cawdron said. “The move to introduce League Tag for the first half of the season for the U6 grade means teams can be put through a tackle confidence programme and then decide whether they are ready to move to contact or want to continue to play League Tag.
“This is to help build confidence and gives kids a chance to learn and be introduced to tackling.
“Providing kids with the option on when to switch over to contact allows them to be develop at their own pace, keeping in mind that current NRL stars such as Shaun Johnson, Benji Marshall and Ryan Papenhuyzen all come from non-contact backgrounds.
“League Tag is going to help open up rugby league to a larger group of the population who are interested in a non-contact activity.”
NZRL general manager of high performance and football, Motu Tony, said the changes are a positive for the game.
“Extensive research and collaboration have gone into this project to ensure that our participants at the Kiwi League Kids level (formerly mini/mod) have a rugby league programme that is enjoyable, safe and helps develop them on and off the field,” Tony said.
“I would particularly like to thank the ARL for their partnership and fantastic work during the three-year pilot programme, which has resulted in an offering that I am sure will be enjoyed by all our KLK participants.”
For further information and coaching resources click here.
Junior Development Framework features outlined:
29 January 2021
New Zealand Rugby League will kick off its inaugural National 20s Competition on Saturday 27 February 2021. The round-robin competition will play over five consecutive weeks with the two top placed teams set to face off in the final the weekend of April 2.
The NZRL National 20s Competition involves six teams from across New Zealand with Zones and appropriate Districts represented.
Auckland hosts two teams as Auckland Rugby League, Akarana and Counties Manukau join forces to create an Auckland Blue and Auckland White team. Other teams represented include Northland; Wai-Coa Bay, with the inclusion of Waikato, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Coastline Districts; Central Districts, including Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington; and South Island, including Tasman, Canterbury, West Coast, Aoraki, Southland and Otago Districts.
The NZRL National 20s Competition will showcase future Kiwis from across the country as this inaugural comp looks to shine a spotlight on New Zealand’s development talent as they pave their way for elite professional contracts.
All games will be televised live on Sky Sport, Sky Sport Now and for Australian viewers, Kayo and FOXSPORTS Linear.
27 January 2021
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has announced a major technology upgrade for the administration of the sport of rugby league throughout the country.
NZRL has partnered with Sportsground Ltd, a New Zealand based digital technology company, to utilise the ‘Sporty’ platform to help organise its sport.
The decision to use Sporty to upgrade its systems, including all player, coach, referee and volunteer registrations, member management, and game competition management was not made lightly according to NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“We used 2020 to review and evaluate a number of options both domestically and abroad. We’re pleased to have identified a local sports technology company with proven capability to meet the demanding requirements of organising our sport nationally,” Peters said.
Mike Purchas, CEO of Sportsground Ltd says they are pleased to have been selected to deliver the solution.
“We’re thrilled. We already provide web services for a number of rugby league organisations and we are excited to be increasing their functionality and rolling it out nationally for 2021,” Purchas said.
Boasting a clientele that includes NZ Rugby, Netball NZ, Football NZ, Touch NZ and many other national bodies, Sportsground Ltd has been servicing the New Zealand sports sector for over a decade. The Sporty platform is modular and provides an integrated, hierarchal system designed to meet the differing needs at each level of a sport, from the participant to the team, club/school, regional organisation and national body.
“It requires boldness to undertake a digital upgrade. The easy option is to retain status quo, but that’s not necessarily the best outcome for a sport. We applaud the decision from NZRL to implement transformational change that will future-proof it for years to come,” stated Purchas.
Peters added, “The global pandemic has emphasised the importance of timely communication and robust digital solutions that help administer our sport. Our technology upgrade with Sporty puts rugby league in good stead.”
3rd February, 2021.
In partnership with Le Va, NZRL has produced a ‘Wellbeing Waka’ that will work to better the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of rugby league communities across New Zealand.
The Wellbeing Waka is a mental health roadshow that is set to sail to 10 of its 17 Districts from now until April. The roadshow not only aims to deliver interactive and educational workshops for Rangatahi and parents, but the Waka will go a step further to develop ‘Wellbeing Champions’ for each of the District areas.
These Champions will be on the ground contacts who provide wellbeing support networks for their communities once the Waka leaves. These Champions will be subject to training opportunities to strengthen their personal tool kits when dealing with potential crises or matters of need regarding mental health, suicide prevention and overall wellbeing.
The Wellbeing Waka will work to provide a safe space to encourage youth and parent forum discussions around mental health and suicide prevention. The Waka aims to empower youth to establish support networks among peers to ensure the voice of the young person is spoken, heard and has a seat at the table in each of the rugby league Districts.
NZRL Wellbeing Manager, Carmen Taplin says: “Our mental health and suicide rates for Maori and Pasifika from within our rugby league communities is high compared to other ethnicities.
“We believe that with education and creating sustainable support networks in our Districts, we are able to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our people and their families.
“We don’t just want to come, deliver a workshop and go. We are here to create a sustainable support model that works to break down the stigma associated with mental health through empowering Rangatahi and those most effected to take the lead within their communities.
“Through these initial workshops and upskilling of staff and Wellbeing Champions as well the power of past and present players, we are hoping to create a safe and supported mental health network through rugby league.”
The next Wellbeing Waka will take place on the 11th of February, 2021 at Waikato Sport, Wintec Rotokauri Campus at 6:30pm, join us and Le Va for an important korero.
NZRL’s Wellbeing Waka is for boys and girls (12 – 18+) as well as parents.
The Waka is free of charge, kai will be provided.
Keep an eye out on NZRL’s channels for the Wellbeing Waka’s next destinations.
Due to the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to advise that all NZRL run representative competitions and tournaments have been called off for the remainder of the year.
Community and Club competitions and trainings are still currently postponed until May 2 with that date to be reviewed in due course.
Due to the current uncertain revenue lines, these representative competitions would place too big of a financial burden on the Zones. International rugby league has also been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and NZRL has ceased all non-essential expenditure.
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO, “We are extremely disappointed that these competitions will not happen in 2020, but unfortunately, it was a decision that had to be made for the financial longevity of our game.
“Due to the extensive consequences of this pandemic across the code, we have had to make some significant short term sacrifices in order to see the game thrive long after this virus is contained.
“The impact and influence rugby league has is felt widespread both on and off the field. Although unprecedented, this decision was made fully with the longevity of our game in mind and the important role it plays within our communities.”
NZRL will provide a further update on club and community competitions in due course. Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, the focus will be on getting the grassroots game operating as quickly as possible.
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.”
Due to the ongoing safety concerns regarding the Covid-19 outbreak, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to advise that all community rugby league competitions, tournaments and trainings run by NZRL Zones, Districts and Clubs have been postponed until Saturday, May 2nd, effective immediately.
Given the fast-changing situation, these guidelines and advice are subject to change.
Fo now, restrictions do not prevent clubs from operating on their facilities, however we urge clubs to adhere to Ministry of Health regulations in this regard; these include:
We are continuously liaising with government agencies and will continue to update you with the latest information.
We appreciate this is an unprecedented step being taken for community rugby league; however, this decision has been made solely with the safety and wellbeing of our players, staff, volunteers, whanau and the wider community in mind.
We understand this is an unfamiliar time for us all, but rest assured we are doing all we can to ensure our communities remain safe so we can return to play as soon as possible. NZRL thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through this together over the coming weeks.
New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is pleased to announce, OPRO, the producer of the world’s most technically advanced mouthguard, is now the official mouthguard supplier of New Zealand Rugby League.
As part of the three-year agreement, OPRO will provide every single registered player in New Zealand between the ages of 6 – 12 with a free Snap-Fit mouthguard; their entry level mouthguard that received the Queen’s Award for Innovation.
OPRO will also be the official mouthguard supplier for the World Number 1 Ranked Kiwis, World Nines Champions Kiwi Ferns and the Junior Kiwis for their international campaigns, supplying each representative player with a fitted mouthguard.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, said: “We are delighted to enter into a long-term relationship with such a trusted and quality brand such as OPRO.
“Their calibre of clients speaks for itself and we are extremely grateful for their generosity and what they are providing, not only our rugby league communities at a grassroots level but also our high-performance athletes as we set sight on the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.”
OPRO Sports Marketing Director, Daniel Lovat added: At OPRO, we’re passionate about fostering safe sport from grassroots to the elite level. As Rugby League’s number one ranked nation, we’re excited to help NZRL continue to achieve excellence into the future by providing every single player between the age of 6 and 12 with one of our award-winning mouthguards.”
The Sky Sport Rugby League Roadshow will be travelling Aotearoa this year to bring the great game of rugby league to your region.
This joint initiative between Sky Sport, New Zealand Rugby League and the Vodafone Warriors aims to make noise in the local communities about the game of rugby league and overall, encourage new player registrations.
The Roadshows will provide local league clubs with an opportunity to have a presence at each activation to connect more directly with members of the community and find their future players.
The first four Roadshows will take place on the local beach, with music, food, fun games, opportunities to learn football skills, run drills, play Kiwi Tag and rub shoulders with some of the game’s greats.
There will be plenty of giveaways and spot prizes to win on the day, as well as the chance to win a meet and greet with the Kiwis and Ferns at this year’s mid-year June test.
In addition to this, Kiwi League Kids (12 and under) who register with a club will later receive a Sky Sport starter pack which includes a brand new OPRO mouthguard, Kiwi / Ferns poster, rugby league ball and ball bag.
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, says: “We all want to see our local rugby league talent thrive and represent New Zealand at an international level.
“The community game is critical to the future of rugby league in New Zealand and we are aiming to shine a spotlight on this as the new 2020 season approaches. The Roadshow also provides us with an opportunity to identify where there’s potential for more rugby league opportunities.
“It’s exciting that we can do this as a collective with the Warriors and Sky Sport while also giving our zones, districts and local league clubs the chance to be involved.”
The Roadshows are a free event and open to all members of the community.
Gisborne | Gisborne Sound Shell | Thursday 6th February | From 12:00pm
Whakatane | Mahy Reserve | Friday 7th February | From 4pm
Mt Maunganui | Tay St Beach Reserve | Saturday 8th February | From 10am
Whitianga | Moewai Sports Park | Sunday 9th February | From 10am
The next Roadshow locations to be confirmed in due course.
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.”
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the following players have been selected to represent the New Zealand Residents team who will take on the England Community Lions on November 1st at Trusts Arena in Auckland.
The game will be televised live on SKY Sport with kick-off scheduled for 6:35pm.
This Residents squad is made up of the best from the NZRL National Men’s competition, many of whom have already achieved professional or international rugby league success.
Canterbury’s Tevin Arona was just named in the Cook Island Nines squad and will take the field this coming weekend in the inaugural World Nines. David Bhana is no stranger to the professional league, before his retirement due to injury two years ago, he captained the Warriors U20s, the Junior Kiwis in 2013, was named in the NRL 20s team of 2013, played professionally for the Newcastle Knights and also represented NZ Māori.
Akarana playmaker, Aiden Ackland, has played 33 times scoring 62 points for the Warriors Jersey Flegg / Holden Cup team and Head Coach Andrew Auimatagi, coached the Canterbury Bulls to the NZRL 2019 Premiership final this year and also doubled as Linwood Keas’ Head Coach, guiding them to victory three years running.
The sought after fixture will be the closing bout of the first-ever England Community Lions tour down under. The England Community Lions will also come up against a North Island Championship Selection at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on October 24 and the New Zealand Māori Residents XIII team in Rotorua on Sunday, October 27.
Greg Peters, CEO of NZRL, says this fixture will further showcase the undeniable regional talent on offer.
“It’s extremely exciting to see a team of such calibre named, not only for the players but for the game in general. The more opportunities we give to our local players and coaching staff, the better the game gets and to come up against a quality international side is a bonus. Congratulations to all who made the team.”
The first weekend of November will be jam-packed with New Zealand Rugby League action at all levels, as the Residents take on the England Community Lions on Friday 1st closely followed by the much-anticipated clash between the Great Britain Lions and Kiwis on Saturday 2nd November.
A passionate rendition of Te Iwi Kiwi from the NZ18s set the bar for what would be a tough battle between two high-quality sides. France U19s were full of confidence fresh off two wins against Waikato and Canterbury, and the NZ 18s were eager to kick off their 2019 campaign with a win – this game was set to be a good one.
Nine minutes into the match, Canterbury prop Caius Faatili, rolled over for New Zealand’s first try, impressively the Canterbury Bulls star is also set to take the field at the NZRL Premiership final on Saturday against Akarana.
Eighteen minutes in France scored their first points as Thomas Soler showed good pace to run away with an intercept try. NZ hit back shortly after as Jonah Palota-Kopa dived on a grubber from Coleman to make it 10 – 4. NZ continued its dominance throughout the rest of the half with Caius rolling over for his second in the 27th minute soon followed by back to back tries to Jordan Coleman, Taniela Otukolo and Semisi Tapa. NZ’s attack proving too much for France with six tries to one during the first forty, half time score: 32 – 4.
New Zealand continued to dominate on attack as Feao Tongia opened the second half scoring soon followed by a try to Caleb Pese to make it 44 – 4. However, any thoughts of it being a one-sided match were quickly put to bed as France mounted an impressive comeback. The French starved NZ of possession for most of the second half, although at times made easy by the NZ’s own handling errors, France showed pace and attacking smarts to score 22 unanswered points in the second forty, with tries to Thomas Lacans, Jason Goffin, Matthew Cozza and Valentin Zafra.
44 – 26 marked the full-time score as NZ18s came away with the win in what was an entertaining but tough battle between the two sides. Both teams head to Auckland’s Pulman Park on Sunday as the French set to take on Auckland U19s while the NZ 18s prepare for their clash against TOA Samoa.
It was a dominant display across the park for Akarana in what was a must-win game for the reigning premiers to kick off round three of the NZRL Premiership.
Hooker Josiah Afu opened the scoring for the Falcons in the 11th minute, Chase Bernard’s 40 meter run from the kick-off set up Akarana’s second try to Jordan Te Aho. Back to back tries soon followed to Hoani Rogers-Brown and Solomon Vasuvulagi quickly making it 24 – 0.
Some possession to the home side saw Captain Pawhare Brown put Waikato on the board after a strong run through the middle, however, handling errors had the home side under the pump again as Siliga Kepaoa powered over for Akarana’s fifth try. Quickplay the balls from the Falcon’s forward pack put skipper Francis Leger over the line to make it 36 – 6 at the break.
The second half kicked off with a runaway try to Akarana winger Sam Fa’apito after a one on one strip, yet some possession to the home side saw Waikato gain momentum resulting in back to back tries making it 40 -18.
The momentum was short-lived as Akarana kicked into gear with tries to Chase Bernard and Matti Tuitama. Sam Fa’apito went over for his second making it 56 – 18 before David Dyer ran away with an intercept. Darren Kellett-Moore finished the scoring off for Akarana making it 66 – 18 at full time.
Day two of round three saw the Canterbury Bulls and Counties Manukau Stingrays play for a spot in the finals against the Akarana Falcons.
Canterbury will be happy campers coming away with the win 24-22 after tough back and forth contest. There was nothing between these teams, both heading to the tunnels at half time without a single point on the board.
First points came after a fiery start to the second half. The 44th minute saw Counties number 18 Richard Toa’i, finally break the Canterbury defence off the back of a penalty only a few meters from the try line. Counties followed up within minutes, James Dowie scoring in the corner.
The hosts weren’t giving up easily, biting back as they put their first points on the board. The try from Penetito Ilalio would close the gap. Pressure on Counties and frustrations building the 56th minute saw Counties Netane Vi, yellow carded for foul play. Counties then conceded twelve points within ten minutes.
With a full team back on the field, Counties Manukau stormed back to take the lead after two converted tries, leading with only five minutes left to play. Finals were on the line and Canterbury knew it, they would bravely strike back with a last minute try to close the match off 24-22
The Cantabrians send a strong message to their opposition that they mean business in 2019 as they seek to take away Akarana’s long term claim to the Premiership title.
Congratulations also to Wellington Orcas and Otago Whalers who will contest the Championship Final at Nga Puna Wai in Christchurch, prior to the Premiership Final.
NZRL Premiership final – Canterbury Bulls v Akarana Falcons 3pm
October 5th Nga Puna Wai Stadium in Christchurch
Live on Sky Sport
A stirring haka from the Junior Kiwis set the mark for what was to be a passionate test match between the Trans-Tasman rivals at Dolphin Oval.
A flying Habiso Tabuai-Fidow opened the scoring for the Australian Schoolboys, yet it was rugged early with Howarth put on report for a dangerous throw. Junior Kiwi prop Etuale Junior Lui Toeava was hard to handle with the Junior Kiwis side well led by Broncos-contracted lock Jordan Riki.
An error by Australian fullback Reece Walsh gave the Junior Kiwis possession and it was all too easy for star fullback Starford Toa from the ensuing scrum to score untouched to level the score.
A short kick in behind the line by Sydney Roosters bound Australian half, Sam Walker, found his fellow Queensland under 18s teammate Walsh racing through to score in the 29th minute to break the deadlock.
Walker then schemed down the left to almost put Mathew Feagai away to score. Minutes later Walsh injected himself and put the after burners on to find skipper Jackson Topine in support. Australia took an 18-6 lead into the break.
The Junior Kiwis started the second half full of running and centre Kayal Iro, son of former Kiwi legend, Kevin Iro, determinedly crashed over to reduce the margin to eight.
The Australian Schoolboys hit back after a burst by Tabuai-Fidow the ball went through the hands to wide-running Howarth whose one-handed overhead offload sent Feagai over. Howarth then reached out himself from a Walker grubber to give the Australian Schoolboys a 30-10 lead in the 53rd minute.
The Junior Kiwis soon gained momentum scoring back to back tries which looked like the beginnings of a hopeful comeback. Kiwi winger Selestino Ravutaumada scored wideout to cut the lead to 30-14 soon followed by an impressive length of the field try by Kiwi fullback Starford Toa to cut the margin to 10 points with 14 minutes to go.
However, the Junior Kiwis were unable to capitalise on their possession and it was Sam Walker who put the result beyond doubt with a try from close range for the Australian Schoolboys. Final score 36 – 20.
Adapted from NRL match report by Joel Gould
Grassroots rugby league will be given a huge boost when the England Community Lions and Country Rugby League of New South Wales both tour New Zealand in October this year.
The tours will provide opportunities for New Zealand players to take on the visiting teams with the matches involving the Community Lions being broadcast live on SKY Sport.
The England Community Lions will kick off their first-ever New Zealand tour with a match against a North Island Championship Selection at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on October 24.
They’ll then feature against the New Zealand Māori Residents XIII team at the New Zealand Māori Rugby League National Tuakana Tournament in Rotorua on Sunday, October 27, with a third match to be announced soon.
The Country Rugby League of NSW team will play the same North Island Championship Selection taking on the Community Lions at the NZRL Youth Tournament at Pukerawhero Park in Rotorua on October 8, followed by an encounter with the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls at the new Christchurch home of rugby league, Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub, on October 12.
“This is extremely exciting for our local game,” said NZRL CEO Greg Peters.
“With the Community Lions’ games being televised live, these matches will attract national audiences and further showcase the undeniable regional talent we have on offer. We’re very thankful to SKY Sport for their ongoing support.
“Going forward we’re looking to provide more regular opportunities to further enhance the quality of our grassroots game for both our men’s and women’s teams, as well as for international teams wanting to make the trip down under.
“We’re thrilled that our local game will be showcased nationwide during a busy international calendar. It’s an exciting time for rugby league at all levels.”
Rugby Football League international manager Alan Davidson said: “There is a buzz around the squad who are all eager to travel and challenge themselves against very good opposition.
“As the England Community Lions are made up of amateur players from across the country, having the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world is something that doesn’t come around too often.
“This is the first time the Community Lions have toured New Zealand and the players are looking forward to not only the caliber of games lined up but also the chance to be able to experience the Kiwi culture and visit different places across the country.”
Country Rugby League of NSW CEO Terry Quinn said his organization was looking forward to the upcoming tour and the benefits it will bring.
“This is the first time Country Rugby League will tour New Zealand with our Men’s Under-23’s Representative side so we are extremely excited,” Quinn said.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for some of the brightest talent in regional New South Wales to showcase their skill and compete against players they wouldn’t normally compete against, as well as experience a different culture.
“The relationship we have with the New Zealand Rugby League is one we are hoping to continue for many years, and this tour is a fantastic opportunity for Australian and New Zealand Rugby League to unite.”
🐍 Congratulations to the following Men who have been selected from the North Island Championship competition to play in…
Posted by Mid Central Zone Rugby League on Tuesday, 24 September 2019
🐍 Congratulations to the following Men who have been selected from the North Island Championship competition to play in…
Posted by Mid Central Zone Rugby League on Tuesday, 24 September 2019
Dunedin will host the annual South Island 13/14 and 19 years rugby league tournaments over the weekend of Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September. The tournaments are being played at Kettle Park with games starting at 10am each day. There will be an evening fixture on Saturday 28th September at Logan Park 6, with the Otago 19’s team taking on Canterbury 19’s at 5pm under lights.
The 13/14 tournament which is in its second year, presents a fantastic opportunity for boys and girls to give rugby league a go and put their skills on display while setting a great foundation for them to move up to the 15/17 tournament next year. The 19’s tournament will see the cream of teenage rugby talent from the South Island compete and put their best foot forward to move up into their district club and premier teams in the following years.
The 13/14 tournament will have three grades: boys 13’s, boys 14’s and girls 13’s/14’s, with each grade having three teams participating, while the 19’s grade will be made up of four teams. Each of the tournaments is comprised of teams from 4 districts – Canterbury, Southland, Otago and West Coast.
The tournaments provide players with the opportunity of competing at a level that allows them to challenge themselves against their peers. Past tournaments have seen players being identified and provided with further opportunities to follow their dream, be it NRL clubs or NZ age-group teams. West Coast’s Griffin Neame is an excellent example of this, Griffin played for the West Coast 19’s team at last years tournament and has just been selected in the Junior Kiwis and is a part of the North Queensland Cowboys setup.
Following the 19’s tournament, a South Island squad will be announced. This squad will train in preparation for a match against an Auckland 19’s team in Christchurch on November 9th. This is the first year a South Island side has been picked from this tournament and provides a fantastic opportunity for players to test themselves against top-class opposition and push their case for higher honours.
These tournaments are a great opportunity for those in Dunedin wanting to see high-quality rugby league being played.
2019 SZRL 13’s/14’s AND 19’S TOURNAMENT DRAW
Kettle Park, Dunedin
Saturday 28th September and Sunday 29th September
SATURDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER – DAY 1
10am: Otago 13’s vs West Coast 13’s, West Coast 14’s vs Canterbury 13’s
11am: Otago 13/14 girls vs West Coast 13/14 girls
12pm: Southland 13’s vs West Coast 13’s. Southland 14’s vs West Coast 14’s, West Coast 19’s vs Southland 19’s
1pm: Otago 13/14 girls vs West Coast 13/14 girls
2pm: Otago 13’s vs Southland 13’s, Southland 14’s vs Canterbury 13’s
2:30pm: Canterbury 19’s vs West Coast 19’s
5pm Otago 19’s vs Canterbury 19’s (Logan Park 6)
SUNDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER – DAY 2
10am: Otago 13’s vs West Coast 13’s, West Coast 14’s vs Canterbury 13’s, Otago 19’s vs Southland 19’s
11am: West Coast 13/14 girls vs Southland 13’s girls
12pm: Southland 14’s vs West Coast 14’s, Southland 13’s vs West Coast 13’s
12:30pm: Canterbury 19’s vs Southland 19’s
1pm: Otago 13/14 girls vs Southland 13 girls
3pm: West Coast 14/14 girls vs Southland 13’s girls, Otago 19’s vs West Coast 19’s
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the following players have been selected for the Junior Kiwis U19 team set to take on the Australian School Boys on September 29th in Queensland:
Junior Kiwis coaching staff are as follows:
Head Coach: Ezra Howe
Assistant Coaches: Moehewa Armstrong, Francis Meli
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach: Donny Singe
Head Trainer: Junior Mautairi
Physio: Simon Keepa
Manager: Jerry Seuseu
The Junior Kiwis Under 19s will take on their Trans-Tasman rivals at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium with kick-off scheduled for 1 pm NZT; the game will be televised live on SKY Sport.
Thanks to the support of Sky Sport, the Under 19 Junior Kiwis will take on the Australian School Boys Sunday, September 29th in Queensland.
Greg Peters, CEO of New Zealand Rugby League said: “We are extremely grateful for Sky’s ongoing support as this fixture would not have been possible otherwise.
“The Junior Kangaroos recently moved to an U23s structure as they are set to take on France U23s later in the year. We are looking at re-introducing an U23s team next year, however in the meantime, giving our U19 Junior Kiwis a run against high-quality competition like the Australian School Boys is great for the development of our young players.
“We have some undeniable Kiwi talent coming through and it’s exciting we get to see them take the field in what will be nothing short of a high class, entertaining game of rugby league.”
Sky Director of Sport, Tex Teixeira says: “We’re proud to be playing our part in supporting the Junior Kiwis Under 19s and we can’t wait to watch them take on the Aussies – go well team!”
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the following players have been selected for the Junior Kiwis U19 wider squad:
Bayleigh Bentley-Hape – Sydney Roosters
Dylan Brown – Parramatta Eels
Valance Harris – Parramatta Eels
Kayal Iro – NZ Warriors
Temple Kalepo – NZ Warriors
Asu Kepaoa – Sydney Roosters
Spencer Leniu – Penrith Panthers
Etu Vinny Lui – Parramatta Eels
Christian Ma’anaima – Newcastle Knights
Sione Moala – NZ Warriors
Griffin Neame – North Queensland Cowboys
Shalom O’ofou – St. George Illawarra Dragons
Junior Pua – NZ Warriors
Selestino Ravuataumada – NZ Warriors
Jordan Riki – Brisbane Broncos
Simi Sasagi – Newcastle Knights
Ioane Seiuli – Gold Coast Titans
Tyler Slade – NZ Warriors
Vito Tevaga – Cronulla Sharks
Matthew Timoko – Canberra Raiders
Starford Toa – Newcastle Knights
Emmanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard – NZ Warriors
Christian Tuipulotu – Sydney Roosters
Paul Turner – NZ Warriors
Isaiah Vagana – NZ Warriors
Assistant Coaches: Moehewa Armstrong, Francis Meli
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach: Donny Singe
Head Trainer: Junior Mautairi
NZRL are now open to receiving applications of interest for the role of National Playgroups Manager.
The National Playgroups Manager oversees the implementation of the NZRL early childhood education playgroup project in partnership with the Ministry of Education.
The project focus is on the development and sustainable implementation of playgroups for young children and their families through rugby league club facilities.
This position requires a self-motivated, passionate, connected and capable person to provide educational experiences for young children, in a fun setting, that enhances their capacity to achieve as they move into primary school or kindergarten. This is a parent-led initiative and therefore the Playgroups Manager will need to ensure activities are suitable for pre-school aged children and their families.
The Playgroups Manager champions the values of the NZRL and encourages participation by parents in the running of the playgroups while role modelling interaction and management behaviours so that parents may learn these skills and contribute to the supported playgroups.
The role requires that the playgroups work towards building a sustainable model that can be replicated at a national level. Each playgroup has individual needs and the Playgroups Manager and staff will work towards developing a community link that each playgroup can become involved with, or lead on, community initiatives.
APPLICATION CLOSING DATE: 5pm Friday 30th August, 2019
For more information on the role please click here
To apply, please submit your application with cover letter to:
New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce, former Governor-General of New Zealand, Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM QSO has been appointed as New Zealand Rugby League’s Patron.
Sir Anand has a long-standing connection to the game of rugby league which he says encompasses multiple layers.
“Firstly, as a youngster, I came from a sport loving family. My father was GP who was the doctor for the Auckland and New Zealand Rugby League teams in the 1950s and 1960s. My brother and I would accompany him to Carlaw Park on many winter weekend days whilst he was on duty and we enjoyed the games, mainly Club but also Internationals.
“Secondly, as a young lawyer in Auckland in the 1970s, I spent time on the Rules and Interpretations Board when Rugby League shifted to the six tackle rule. Thirdly, at the end of the 1970s when there were negotiations necessary about transfer fees when players went off to Australia and England, I spent some time on the NZRL Council (as the Deputy Delegate for the West Coast) which was a way of getting a legal mind on the Council for these purposes. When I became a Judge in 1982 I needed to resign from these offices but have maintained an interest in the code as a television watcher and attender at fixtures.”
When asked what he loves about the game, Sir Anand pointed out the excitement that takes place on the field as well as the benefits it brings to many people off it as well.
“It is an exciting free-flowing brand of football that places great emphasis on ball distribution and encourages, to a high level, essential physical skills of running and jumping…It promotes camaraderie and teamwork but also prepares people for participation in life more generally. I see the game growing even more as the game of choice among the country’s Māori and Pasifika communities and for women as well as men.”
Sir Anand says being NZRL’s Patron enables him the opportunity to reignite his connection with the sport and with those in charge of running it.
“The Rugby League family will not have changed over years and it will be good to have a connection with it again and to follow the efforts of the Rt Hon Helen Clark and Sir Peter Leitch as patrons of the recent past.”
Greg Peters, CEO of New Zealand Rugby League says Sir Anand’s appointment marks an exciting time for NZRL.
“Having such an influential figure as our Patron is extremely beneficial to the direction our organisation is heading – we’re very grateful to Sir Anand for accepting our invitation,” Greg said.
“He has a strong league connection and has already had an impact on the game in New Zealand as a member of the Council of New Zealand Rugby League and Secretary of the Rules and Interpretations Board.
“Currently, we’re working to emphasise our More Than A Game philosophy, where we aspire to transform lives and community well-being through Rugby League. Sir Anand epitomises this philosophy through his years of public service at a local and parliamentary level, as well as the notable impact he has had on our Māori and Pasifika communities throughout his remarkable career.
“Having Sir Anand as our Patron will only strengthen the important work we’re doing in this area and hopefully further the impact we have off the field.”
Photo credit – DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the New Zealand Residents team will play against the England Community Lions on November 1st at Trusts Arena in Auckland.
The game will be televised live on SKY Sport and is set to Kick off at 6:35pm.
The Residents squad will make up the best from the NZRL National Men’s competition, taking place from September 14th to October 5th. This match will showcase New Zealand’s highest quality grassroots players as they take on England’s best community names.
The sought after fixture will be the closing bout of the first-ever England Community Lions tour down under. The England Community Lions will also come up against a North Island Championship Selection at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on October 24 and the New Zealand Māori Residents XIII team in Rotorua on Sunday, October 27. All games will be televised live on SKY Sport.
“Our National Men’s competition brings out the best of our grassroots talent from up and down the country and now that we’re adding in the Residents selection as something else to play for, the standard of the competition will only increase.
“It’s extremely exciting, not only for the players but for the game in general. The more opportunities we give to our local players, the better the game gets and to come up against an international side is a bonus. The Community Lions tour in itself is a great milestone for our game, now coupled with the inclusion of the Residents match – our game is in an exciting place.”
The first weekend of November will be jam-packed with New Zealand Rugby League action at all levels, as the Residents take on the England Community Lions on Friday 1st closely followed by the much-anticipated clash between the Great Britian Lions and Kiwis on Saturday 2nd November.
The NZRL Residents squad will be announced at the conclusion of the NZRL National Men’s Competition.
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce a series of international fixtures that will see our brightest future league talent on display from up and down the country.
The NZ Resident 16s and 18s are set to take on TOA Samoa 16s and 18s at Auckland’s Pulman Park on Sunday 6th October, while the NZ Resident 18s will also come up against France’s U19s on Thursday, October 3rd at International Stadium, Rotorua.
As well as the NZ Residents 18s fixture, French Rugby League will embark on a historic tour of New Zealand facing the South Island 20s, Waikato 20s and Auckland 19s.
Full list of fixtures in date order (all times are NZT):
Friday 27 September 2019 – Nga Puna Wai, Christchurch
Canterbury Invitation XIII vs. France U19s; 5pm kick off
Monday 30 September 2019 – Ngaruawahia, Waikato
Waikato 20s vs. France U19s; 4pm kick off
Thursday 3 October 2019 – International Stadium, Rotorua
New Zealand Resident 18s vs. France U19s; 6:30 kick off
Sunday 6 October 2019 – Pulman Park, Auckland
New Zealand Resident 16s vs. TOA 16s; 10:30am
Auckland 19s vs. France U19s; 12:15pm
New Zealand Resident 18s vs. TOA 18s; 2:00pm
New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the following successful players have been selected to represent the New Zealand Resident 16s and 18s teams for 2019.
New Zealand Resident 16s:
Head Coach: Bejay Hewitt (Akarana)
Assistant Coaches: Chris Langley, Eugene Davis (Upper Central)
Manager: Junie Shelford (Northland)
Trainers: Sean Witanga (Counties Manukau), Iripa Rangi (Vodafone Warriors)
Physio: Quentin Hokianga (Vodafone Warriors)
Wellbeing Support: Te Iwi Ngaro Wairau (Southern)
New Zealand Resident 18s:
Head Coach: Tusa Lafaele (Counties Manukau)
Assistant Coaches: Daniel McEwan (Wellington) and Cody Walker (Akarana)
Manager: Tania Harris (Counties Manukau)
Trainers: Lee Paru (Southern) and Jasen McCarthy (Akarana)
Physio: Allan Horn (Counties Manukau)
NZRL CEO, Greg Peters, says these fixtures are a teaser of the international rugby league to come.
“What’s really exciting about these matches is that we get a glimpse into the future of New Zealand Rugby League. These National Teams provide a platform for players to springboard their future opportunities in the game and are an essential part of the NZ pathway.
“The fixtures are also a display of the impressive domestic talent developed through our Clubs, Districts and Zones and having our future Kiwis come up against quality competition such as TOA Samoa and France will be exciting to see.”
Geoff Brown, Rugby League Samoa Executive said: “We are thankful for the opportunity to come up against the NZ Residents, and at the same time, continue to strengthen our international relationships as these fixtures are vital to the development of Samoan rugby league.
“To play for your country is the ultimate goal and we’re always working to provide elite pathways for our young players to achieve this at a range of age levels. Thanks to New Zealand Rugby League for their ongoing support, we look forward to the upcoming clashes.”
Marc Palanques, Executive Chairman Federation Français Rugby a XIII said: “We are looking forward to this historic U19’s tour of New Zealand with a distinct vision of preparing a competitive squad capable of mixing it with the world’s best in the future.
“The current rep cycle means we are preparing for a World Cup every four years and this is our first step in giving our players the experience they need to compete against the world’s best players. The four-match program we have is ambitious while providing a wonderful mixture of games and community engagements for our young players.
“Mixing sport with the local culture and experiencing their first haka, will be a life-changing experience and we hope to be able to reciprocate this with the NZRL when they visit next. A special word of thanks to our rugby league hosts in the South Island; Canterbury Rugby League and the North Island; Waikato Rugby League, Auckland Rugby League and New Zealand Residents.”
Details on how to view each fixture will be released in due course.
Image – Photosport
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.
Thanks to Pirtek, each month we look to celebrate a volunteer who has contributed immensely to Rugby League and their community. This month, we congratulate Georgina Peters from Papakura Sea Eagles / Sisters for being our July Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.
Georgina has been integral to the re-opening of Papakura playgroups and is the parent champion; without her, a lot of Papakura’s players wouldn’t be able to train.
Playgroups is an NZRL initiative where anyone can bring their children (5-0) along to their community club room for a safe place to play with their parents at designated times throughout the week.
Papakura’s playgroup operates for three hours in the evening from 5.30pm until 8.30pm, twice a week, each Tuesday and Thursday. After a hard long day at work, Georgina volunteers her time to run Papakura’s playgroup, which has roughly 10 to 20 kids and families every session.
Not only does she set up and run each playgroup, she also goes above and beyond feeding everyone that attends, as well as the women’s team. Some of her meals include mince stew, boil up and curried sausages – all hearty Kiwi meals that take a bit of pressure off the parents and keep the kids full.
The Papakura Sisters (Papakura’s women’s team) say the playgroup has immensely contributed to the success of their team, due to the immense amount of stress it takes off, allowing them to focus on training for a couple of hours.
Chris Bourke, General Manager at Pirtek said: “Georgina is the type of person Rugby League relies on in New Zealand. Like all volunteers, she gives up her own time to help support the game. The playgroup is a great initiative and it’s great to see the support for the women’s teams. Another deserving winner of the Pirtek Volunteer of the Month. Congratulations Georgina.”
Nominations are now open for Pirtek’s August Volunteer of the Month.
Each winner receives $200 worth of vouchers.
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
Saturday November 2 – Eden Park Triple Header, Auckland
Saturday November 9 – Double Header, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
*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.”
Richard Becht & Photosport.nz
While a Counties Manukau side laden with Warriors NRL premiership players dominated the final, Akarana and Warriors loose forward Georgia Hale claimed the top individual honour on the last day of the NZRL national women’s tournament at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura today.
The Stingrays just squeezed into the decider after edging the Mid-Central Vipers 14-12 in their semi-final yesterday but they responded by overpowering the Akarana Falcons 32-4 in the final to retain their crown.
Kiwi Ferns and Warriors centre Amber Kani opened the scoring for Counties Manukau before Akarana responded through another Warriors NRLW player in centre Jules Newman, who switched to rugby league just a few months ago.
That would be the only joy for the Falcons as the Stingrays struck again through Kiwi Ferns and Warriors hooker Krystal Rota to take a 10-4 lead into halftime.
Rota had a second after the break while Kiwi Ferns and Warriors fullback Apii Nicholls also crossed.
While she was in the beaten Akarana side, Kiwi Ferns star and Vodafone Warriors community relations coordinator Hale was the standout individual over the three days to claim the player of the tournament award.
Earlier in the day, the Auckland Vulcans accounted for Wai-Coa-Bay 30-8 in the play-off for fifth and sixth while Canterbury finished third after edging the Mid-Central Vipers 6-4 in the third and fourth play-off.
At Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Counties Manukau Stingrays 32 (Krystal Rota 2, Amber Kani, Mele Hufanga, Apii Nicholls, Kararaina Wira-Kohu tries; Apii Nicholls 4 conversions).
Akarana Falcons 4 (Jules Newman try).
Halftime: 10-4 Stingrays.
Canterbury 6 (Cassie Siataga try; Cassie Siataga conversion).
Mid-Central Vipers 4 (Sherri Burgess try).
Auckland Vulcans 30 (Laishon Albert Jones 2, Aleasha Brider, Mele Toki, Tahina Heta, Alix Leaupepe tries; Jhana Magele 3 conversions).
Wai-Coa-Bay 8 (Nina Barton, Daumavia Herewini tries).
NZRL National Women’s Tournament Team
1 Apii NICHOLLS COUNTIES
2 Juliana NEWMAN AKARANA
3 Shontelle WOODMAN AKARANA
4 Joeannha PURCELL AKARANA
5 Atawhai TUPAEA COUNTIES
6 Tawny BURGESS MID CENTRAL
7 Charntay POKO AKARANA
8 Annetta-Claudia NUUAUSALA AKARANA
9 Krystal ROTA COUNTIES
10 Aiesha Leigh SMALLEY COUNTIES
11 Ngatokotoru ARAKUA AKARANA
12 Onjeurlina LEIATAUA COUNTIES
13 Georgia HALE AKARANA
14 Kristina SUE MID CENTRAL
15 Tanika-Jazz NOBLE AKARANA
16 Geneva Tainui WEBBER COUNTIES
17 Crystal TAMARUA AKARANA
New Zealand Rugby League is proud to announce that Luisa Avaiki, former Kiwi Ferns World Cup-winning Captain, current Kiwi Ferns Assistant Coach, NZ Order of Merit recipient and current Head Coach of the WNRL Warriors team, has been granted a Prime Minister’s Scholarship enabling her to take on the role of Head of Women’s Rugby League.
Avaiki has been involved in rugby league for more than three decades dating back to her Kiwi Ferns debut in 1995. Sporting the Black and White jersey, she’s lifted the Women’s Rugby League World Cup three times (2000, 2003, 2008), two of them as captain. This year, she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2019 New Years Honours for her ongoing services to rugby league and the women’s game.
Luisa has held development and welfare roles at both the Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Rugby League, just recently as the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Manager.
Her new role as Head of Women’s Rugby League will see her develop and drive the women’s rugby league strategy throughout New Zealand. Luisa will work closely with NZRL zones and districts, further strengthening the female game at a community level right the way through to the elite pathways, at the same time, still continuing as the Kiwi Ferns Assistant Coach and Warriors NRLW Head Coach.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to contribute further to the women’s game and it highlights NZRL’s dedication to seeing our female game thrive at all levels,” Avaiki said.
“It’s exciting to see the women’s game experience significant growth I’m really looking forward to what we’ll be able to achieve for all girls across the country involved in rugby league.”
CEO of NZRL, Greg Peters, said: “Luisa has already contributed so much to rugby league, she’s an inspiration to many of the women who play our game and she has an undeniable passion for what she does; therefore we couldn’t think of a better person to take on this new role. We’re extremely lucky to have someone of her calibre on board, especially during a time of such important growth.”
Why do you play league?
I love the physical challenge the game offers and the people I play with.
What got you into the game?
My first introduction to league was when I was six playing for my uncles’ team. After my first season we ended up moving north there was no comp for kids, so I ended up playing rugby instead.
How long have you been playing for?
I’ve been playing women’s for around 5 years
What do you do outside of league?
I’m a mum of two, I work for a Maori Charitable Trust, Te Tihi o Ruahine Whanau Ora Navigation Alliance. I dabble in a few other sports rugby, touch and I like to do a bit of CrossFit and boxing as well.
What are your biggest highlights or proudest moments?
Watching my 11yr old daughter Emerald play league, she is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants, shes amazing!. Winning the Wellington Women’s League Comp with my friends. Winning this year’s Manawatu women’s rugby club comp with my club Kia Toa.
What advice would you give to young girls wanting to get into league?
Give it a go!…you’ll love it.
What are your goals?
To stay injury-free and make semi-finals for nationals
What are you looking forward to most about the National Women’s Tournament?
Playing with my mates!
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:
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:
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.
By Will Evans – Canterbury Rugby League
Cushla Nukunuku has more motivation than most of Canterbury’s rookie representatives ahead of the NZRL National Women’s Tournament.
The Linwood Keas prop/second-rower will make her provincial debut in Auckland next week, which shapes as the highlight of a season she has dedicated to the memory of her mum, Lena Nukunuku, who passed away two years ago this month.
“This is probably going to be my last year playing, but I’m really happy that I’ve finally got to represent Canterbury and play for my mum – I feel like she would be so proud of me,” Nukunuku says.
Nukunuku reveals that she gained her initial first-hand exposure to rugby league thanks to her mum, who played for Woolston Rams.
“When I think about it, I love the smell of deep heat and liniment – it reminds me of going into the changing sheds.
“I played a bit of social league way back when, but there was no competition then in Canterbury. Woolston Rams used to have a past versus present game, so I would play for mum.”
The 32-year-old mother of three has earned a maiden call-up for Canterbury midway through her third season of rugby league and is thriving in the representative environment so far.
“I love it, actually. You get to know the players from the other clubs better,” she explains.
“(Usually) you only get to meet them on the field – and it’s like ‘I’m gonna smash you’. Now it’s like, ‘yeah smash her – but don’t hurt her!’”
“I played rugby (union) for eight years and felt like I wasn’t really learning as much anymore, so three seasons ago I thought I’d give league a go, and I love it.”
If Nukunuku transfers the passion she displays at club level to the rep stage, Canterbury’s rivals are in for a torrid time at the National Women’s Tournament.
She played in Linwood’s 2017 CRL Grand Final loss to Papanui and backed up for last year’s decider, when the Keas turned the tables on the Tigers 36-33 in an epic contest at Rugby League Park.
“Green and black is life to me – Linwood Bulls (rugby union team) and Linwood Keas is just home.
“(Winning the Grand Final) was the best feeling in the world. I can’t even express to the girls that are just new to the Keas this year about how much different it is when you go and play a Grand Final. It’s just amazing.”
Nukunuku has tried to take on more a leadership role in a new-look Keas squad in 2019.
“I feel like the smallest things in someone’s game – like at kick-offs, standing on the right angle so if you do drop the ball it goes backwards – it’s a small thing, but it could be (the difference in) winning a game,” she says.
“We’ve got Saga (Manu) and Lupe (Manu) who play for the Keas and also got selected for Canterbury, and I try to take them under my wing. Lovely, lovely girls and just small things like that, they’re like, ‘oh, that’s awesome’.”
But despite being one of the older members of both the Linwood and Canterbury teams, Nukunuku still finds inspiration from some of her experienced teammates.
She nominated one current clubmate, Kiwi Ferns and Samoa rep Sui Pauaraisa, and one ex-Kea, Cassie Siataga, now with Burnham Chevaliers, as her biggest rugby league inspirations.
“Sui, who doesn’t look up to her? She’s my age and she’s just 110 percent all the time. Even at training. She’s always lifting girls up.
“Not having Sui around because she’s constantly travelling with the Samoa league and rugby teams is a bit of a downer, so I’m looking forward to her coming back (for Canterbury). It’s going to be really good for the team, for morale.
“She’s played for Samoa, played for the Warriors and got called up for the Kiwis last year as well, so it brings a lot of good vibes for our girls.
“I also look up to ‘BC’ (Siataga). I just think she’s an amazing player, she just makes things look so easy. It’s almost like she glides on the field – anything with the ball really, she’s just really talented.
“If you ever need tips, she’s always willing to help out whoever. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on.”
But reuniting with Pauaraisa and Siataga is just one of myriad reasons Nukunuku is buzzing ahead of next week’s competition.
She is set to have her own personal cheer squad on the sidelines at Pulman Park.
“I’m trying to convince my partner to take some time off work for him and the kids to come up, because his family is from Huntly,” Nukunuku says.
“They’re all coming, his friends from there are coming to watch.
“As a mum, it’s sad because we leave on Thursday and I’m going to miss my kids, but then it’s also a bit of holiday. But you’ve got to work really hard as well.
Nukunuku relishes the physical side of rugby league. A winger in the 2017 Grand Final and a centre in last year’s decider, increasing her involvement in the more confrontational aspects of the game was behind her shift to the forwards this season.
But with up to five games to play over three days next weekend for the Canterbury team – who are aiming to build on their impressive third-place finishes in 2017-18 – as well as squaring off against the best players from the North Island for the first time, the National Women’s Tournament looms as a new challenge for Nukunuku.
“I’ve had tournaments for Canterbury Maori for rugby (union), but I haven’t had a full-on tournament like this before,” she enthuses.
“I’m excited to see the other teams and what they bring to the tournament – and also be able to smash people and not get in trouble!
“Even though I’ll be like, ‘oh snap, am I going to be at (the opposition players’) level’, I’m so, so excited. I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to go into a tackle, or how am I going to chase that person down.
“All in all, I’m trying not to psyche myself out, but I think it’s excitement more than anything.”
The Mike Linton-coached Canterbury team’s NZRL National Women’s Tournament campaign kicks off at Pulman Park in Auckland on Friday, July 26 with an 11am clash against Mid Central Vipers, before facing the might of Akarana Falcons at 3pm.
Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) has today revealed the confirmed nations who will participate in the women’s tournament in 2021.
The announcements were made across the tournament’s official social media channels, we saw each of the eight individual nations revealed with a unique video showcasing what each nation will bring to RLWC2021.
Set to be the most inclusive rugby league event ever, RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments played concurrently for the first time. International nations were asked to submit their expressions of interest earlier this year for RLWC2021 and Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) representatives to review.
The nations confirmed for the women’s tournament are:
Each nation was assessed against set criteria that reviewed their current international and domestic infrastructure, their plans for growth and their potential impact on RLWC2021. The draw for the tournament will take place in November 2019.
Speaking about the announcement, Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021, said: “We’re delighted the three-times world champions, the Kiwi Ferns, will be taking part in the biggest and best Women’s RLWC in 2021. The Kiwi Ferns have fantastic quality in their ranks, and it will be brilliant to see them showcased to the world, here in England.
“I would like to congratulate each nation that has been chosen to take part in the women’s tournament. We had some fantastic submissions and unfortunately, we couldn’t say yes to each nation, however, we’re confident the chosen nations will play their role in delivering the greatest, and most inclusive, Rugby League World Cup of all time. It is especially pleasing to see an inaugural South American nation compete in a Rugby League World Cup”
RLIF Chief Executive Officer Nigel Wood added: “Women’s sport is growing exponentially, and rugby league is no exception. The fact that we were oversubscribed for this competition demonstrates the immense appetite for our sport. We are encouraged that female athletes around the world are participating and rising to the challenge of skill, fitness, strength and mental toughness provided by rugby league.
“I would like to add my congratulations to each nation and wish them all the best in their build-up to what will be a fantastic event in 2021 and to thank all the nations who participated in this process and we hope that they will join in the women’s Emerging Nations World Cup, which will be a part of the Festival of World Cups 2021.
“We have to ensure that there is clear pathway developed quickly to cater for a fuller women’s international programme with events organised locally, regionally and globally, all leading to a full qualification process for the RLWC2025.”
RLWC2021 will begin with the men’s opening fixture featuring England at St James’ Park on Saturday 23rd October 2021. The women’s tournament will begin at Anfield on Saturday 13th November 2021 and the wheelchair tournament will begin on Sunday 14th November 2021 at the Copper Box Arena, with England both featuring in those opening fixtures. The event will finish with a finals weekend (27th-28th November) with the wheelchair tournament concluding at the M&S Bank Arena and men’s and women’s final held as a double-header at Old Trafford.
When did you debut for the Kiwi Ferns?
2008 World Cup
How many tests have you played?
14 I think. 2008 – 2013 I played in two World Cups and all the tests in-between. Then I took a break and have just returned this year.
How does it feel to represent your country?
It’s the highest honour in our sport and the feeling is nothing but pure pride.
Can you tell us a bit more about your job in youth justice? What does that entail?
My role as a Youth Justice Coordinator is to hold Young People aged 14-17 accountable for their alleged criminal offending.
I convene and facilitate Family Group Conferences that involve the Young Person, Whanau and professionals i.e. Lawyers, Police, Social Workers, Victims, Lay Advocates and Community Organisations etc.
Collectively our main goal is for our young people not to re-offend, we try to do that by building a support system and plan around the young person and their whanau. Having the victim of their crime participate in this restorative justice process is a key component to positive outcomes for all.
Offences can range from an unlawful getting into a motor vehicle which is a penalty of two years imprisonment right through to aggravated robbery which is 14 years imprisonment.
How long have you been doing this?
I have worked with young people in different capacities for the past six years but have been in this particular role for one year.
Why did you get into this occupation?
After working in a corporate space for so long, I wanted to utilise the skills I learnt there and invest these skills into young people and their whanau in my community. I grew up in Mangere, so working in South Auckland with our most vulnerable is familiar and my way of giving back to a community I love.
What do you love most about it?
I love seeing young people and their whanau succeed!!
Do find it challenging to balance rugby league and your professional career? If so, why?
Previously I did, I have only returned to league this year after a 6-year break as I wanted to focus on my family and career.
For me, balancing family life and Rugby League is much harder than juggling my professional career. It’s harder because we have a young family and my husband does shift work, so my training schedule one week is early mornings and then the following week it will be nights after the kids have gone to bed, plus all the normal duties in between but I love my life and my family – we know how to make it work for us.
This year, the National Women’s Tournament will take place Friday 26th – Sunday 28th July at Pulman Park, Auckland.
24 Teams from around the North Island converged on Rotorua Puketawhero Park last week. Representation was excellent with teams entering from Northland down to Manawatu. Puketawhero Park was an ideal venue to host the Tournament, which was delivered jointly by personnel from Bay of Plenty Rugby League, the Upper Central Zone League and New Zealand Rugby League.
The fields were in excellent condition and held up well through four days of matches, on the final day (Friday) the heavens opened up with heavy rain all day dictating the state-of-play.
After the round-robin fixtures, the finalists were named in each age-group category.
Under 13 Boys Final: Waikato 20 – Taranaki 14
Both teams performed well through the first days of pool play. Waikato went into the final as the slight favourites given their results over the first two days, but Taranaki didn’t let that phase them as they came out hard against Waikato through much of the final match.
Not much separated the two sides over the 50-minute mark with Waikato’s organised defence proving the difference.
The remaining finals were played on Friday, and as mentioned, the weather was unfavourable and perhaps for some observers, seen as ‘the great leveller’ as teams played a much tighter game than that of the free-flowing and wide-ranging footy on display through the first part of the week.
Under 15 Girls Final: Waikato 32 – Taranaki 10
Waikato again was the form team through pool-play and their structured attack and defence were on display in the Final.
They did not allow Taranaki to play the ball wide, where they had some dangerous runners, instead, compressing the Taranaki play, restricting them to playing in the middle of the park.
Waikato took their chances with faster and smarter ball playing and decisions that saw them post a comprehensive final score.
Under 15 Boys Final: Waikato 16 – Manawatu 8
A very even and well-contested final between two well-coached sides. Waikato had a plan to keep the ball down in Manawatu’s half of the field and from there force the mistakes, it worked well.
Under 17 Girls Final: Waikato 28 – Manawatu 0
Manawatu played some good football through the pool stages of the tournament, making their way to the Final.
Waikato showed early in pool-play that they were going to set the standard and be the team to beat as they won their way into the Final.
Under some very trying conditions, the Waikato team played as smart and accurate as you could possibly expect from any team in such weather.
A solid platform was set by ensuring their tackle-sets were completed, and some safe, accurate decisions in the halves ensured that the game was mainly played down in the Manawatu half of the field. Manawatu was put under constant pressure, and the points eventually came for Waikato.
Under 17 Boys Final: Manawatu 20 – Bay of Plenty 10
Fading light and a wet, muddy field resulted in some tight but accurate football on display from both teams.
With that said, each side took opportunities to kick the ball down-field and chase hard, taking a chance on spreading the ball wide, which on two occasions paid off for Manawatu.
Bay of Plenty got off to a good start, but Manawatu stuck to a great game-plan, and their centre pairing took the ball over the gain-line regularly and effectively.
Manawatu was deserved winners of this Final however both teams played some excellent football throughout the Tournament.
NIDT 2019 UNDER 17 BOYS MERIT TEAM
COACH. BJ Tahana – BOP
MANAGER. Jackie Tuala – Manawatu
TRAINER. Haze Rewiti – Manawatu
BEST BACK. Sheldon Tairea – Manawatu
BEST FORWARD. Dayna Bidois – BOP
MVP – Cassius Cowley – BOP
NIDT 2019 UNDER 17 GIRLS MERIT TEAM
COACH. Mike Wilson – Waikato
MANAGER. Maria Paul – Manawatu
TRAINER. Thomas Taiarua – Manawatu
BEST BACK. Dawn Hohua – Waikato
BEST FORWARD. Mya Hill-Moana – Waikato
MVP. Victoria Rose Green – Waikato
NIDT 2019 UNDER 15 BOYS MERIT TEAM
COACH. Leroy Morgan – Waikato
MANAGER. Mel Stevenson – Manawatu
TRAINER. Viliami Vunipola – Manawatu
BEST BACK. Te Hurinui Apanui Twidle – Waikato
BEST FORWARD. Xavier Sofani-Calder – Taranaki
MVP. Te Umariki Heremia- Tukere – Waikato
NIDT 2019 UNDER 15’S GIRLS MERIT TEAM
COACH. Joshua Cowan – Waikato
MANAGER. Manawa Rhind – Waikato
BEST BACK. Katana Te Miha Barlow – Waikato
BEST FORWARD. Pikitoria Weston Jacobson – Taranaki
MVP. Paige Wilson – Waikato
Why do you play league?
My bread and butter was actually in Rugby Union, and I decided to venture over to Rugby League this year because I wanted to learn a new code, meet new people, test my capabilities both skill and character to truly see whether I had what it took to play professionally.
What got you into the game?
Funnily enough, it was through current Kiwi Fern and Warriors representative Georgia Hale and also former Kiwi Fern Alex Cook that planted the seed so I put my hand up to give league a go. I played Rugby Union both 15s and 17s with Georgia & Alex and over the years they had dropped the idea here and there, now it’s really happening.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced when it comes to playing league?
There are quite a few challenges that I have to face in Rugby League. In terms of the game itself; when you’ve only ever played one sport it can be extremely difficult changing your mindset to fit the code. Everything I have been taught in Rugby Union has basically gone out the door. For example, Learning new terminology, style of running, running lines, strategy of play and new techniques – especially around tackling & playing the ball.
To illustrate how green I am to league I didn’t know what “markers” were and that you had to roll the ball between your legs with your foot. Having to remind myself to get back 10m on defence and that you don’t form rucks at a breakdown or form mauls whilst only have six tackles is mentally challenging to break those behaviours.
From where I started to now, I am utterly thankful for the support and guidance from Victor Heke, my coach and mentor, and I’m especially grateful to my teammates from Mt Albert Rugby League Club. I have learnt so much and been embraced by them as though I was their family member. This has immensely helped me to become comfortable in the game and showcase what I am capable of.
Because I’ve only been in Rugby League for a few months and have been given the highest accolade to represent the Warriors in NRL and also New Zealand means another big challenge is actually having to learn the game at sprint rather than picking up things over seasons in which generally happens.
I would encourage them to jump in with both feet, even if you’re scared because I’m an adult and I still get scared of the unknown. The best part about trying something new is that you can say you’ve done it. It’s a really brave thing to put yourself into a new environment with new people and for me, I’ve been blessed with a whole new group of friends that are now family, I’ve learnt new skills and found a true love for Rugby League.
So take a deep breath, be brave and jump in with both feet.
What’s your occupation?
Cultural Strategist in an IT Firm
What does this entail?
My role involves looking at user behaviours within organisations in order to better implement technology. My drive for what I do is about people. In my eyes, the most important thing in this world is people and as the demand for technology continues to increase, I believe we need to keep people at the forefront of our priorities.
Furthermore, I am also designing alongside my Aunt, an App that requires a large portion of time and energy.
4.5 years at V-dito
What got you into it?
Family. I studied psychology and I ended up falling into the role. I knew nothing about technology but I do understand human behaviour.
There are two things: Firstly, helping my family prosper financially. Secondly, working with people because I genuinely care about putting people first through empathy, authenticity and logic.
By incorporating both of these means, I am theoretically in my dream job.
Do you find balancing your job and rugby league difficult? If so, why?
The challenges I face in regards to my career is that I work 24/7. With my Rugby League timetable and requirements, I can work remotely, but it doesn’t mean work stops. Whether I’m on my cellphone or laptop, I am connected at all times. People don’t necessarily understand why I do what I do, and to me that’s fine. Why I work so hard is because the business I work for is a family business so the biggest motivator for me is my family. We’ve come a less than fortunate place and for me, we aren’t going back. In my eyes, if our business is successful, my entire family prospers.
Nothing means more to me than making my family proud and with me playing and training at the highest level possible in league and working to feed the business; it is a privilege. I continuously pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.
What’s your professional goal?
My professional goal is to eventually start my own business.
What’s your rugby league goal?
I want to silence the naysayers and prove that through hard work, you can achieve great things. I don’t have the Kalyn Ponga flare or a crazy Benji Marshall whack, but I have an insane work ethic.
I’ve had four ACL reconstructions on my right knee (the last one was 2017) I was told that I would never be able to play a pivoting sport again and at that point, I decided what my body is capable of doing and through that mentality and never give up attitude that has got me onto this platform.
I’m a firm believer that we are the decider of what we can and cannot do.
Thanks to Pirtek, each month we look to celebrate a volunteer who has contributed immensely to Rugby League and their community. This month, we congratulate Anaru Paul from Hamilton City Tigers, for being our June Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.
Anaru’s leadership has seen rugby league in the Waikato thrive. Anaru has held the managers’ position at Hamilton City Tigers for over five years and played a crucial role in winning two Waikato Grand Finals. He’s also been the Waikato Men’s Premier manager for the last three years, which as a result, has seen the District promoted from the Championship to the Premiership competition in 2016, reach the Grand Final in 2017 and retain their spot in the 2019 Premier Competition with a win against Northland in 2018.
Anaru intended on stepping down from club responsibilities at the end of 2018 to focus his efforts on Waikato. With many people unavailable to fill the role, Anaru has stayed with the club, albeit unofficial to his wife!
Anaru’s dedication to his community extends well beyond his involvement with the Tigers. With Resthills being the main playing venue for most of the Hamilton-based clubs; Hukanui, College Old Boys, Hamilton Hornets and Hamilton City Tigers, there are often six or more teams playing on just two fields every Saturday.
When the players from all clubs arrive on a Saturday to see the goalposts up and the lines on the field drawn, they have Anaru to thank. Fourteen days and nights he commits himself to the club, district and game (Premiers), not including the hours he’s involved with the Youth grades.
Anaru’s dedication to his community and the great game of rugby league has not gone unnoticed, and as a result, there are now generations of Paul’s at the club with all his boys having played for Tigers Premiers, some for Waikato, and now Grandkids wearing the club colours.
“He is a true gentleman and an incredibly humble man who puts everyone involved in the game before himself.” David McMeeken, nominator.
Chris Bourke, General Manager at Pirtek says “It’s people like Anaru that keep the grassroots game thriving and it’s clear the impact of his leadership is felt far and wide. On behalf of the team at Pirtek, we’d like to thank Anaru for his dedication to the game and congratulate him on being our well-deserved June volunteer of the month.”
Nominations are now open for Pirtek’s July Volunteer of the Month.
The first Indian representative rugby league team, the Indian Jungle Cats, played their first international match against Columbia on Sunday 14th July at WJ Scott Park, Holland Park, Brisbane to which they came away with a 30 – 16 win.
Over half the full 18-man Jungle Cats squad was made up of New Zealand players who play in the Ethnic Rugby League Competition (ERL) including the coach Tony Tietie, who coached the very first Counties Manukau Indian team – a testament to the hard work and dedication that’s gone into growing New Zealand’s ethnic community game.
The Ethnic Rugby League Competition (ERL) was founded by Kasey King, General Manager Counties Manukau Rugby League (CMRL) over six years ago and the development of the competition was largely assisted by the leadership group formed from participating teams and the very first player recruited, Joshua Naidu. The ERL provides a platform for ethnic minorities, i.e. anyone of Indian, Asian, African or Middle Eastern descent, to develop their skills and regularly play the game.
Since 2013, the ERL competition has gone from a two-team, best of three-game series to a four-team, 4 – 6 week competition and 5 team Nine aside tournament with representative teams selected to compete in the annual Cabramatta Nines, held in Sydney Australia.
In 2016 discussion between CMRL and NRL occurred, exploring opportunities of international Indian representation and although it did not eventuate, the seed was planted. The Indian Jungle Cats team was formed by Nick Samra (AUS), Joshua Naidu (NZ) and Shaniyat Chowdhury (USA) upon a suggestion from Queensland Rugby League in September 2018. In less than a year, they’ve played their first international match against Colombia Rugby League who is ranked 41st in the world and have already played international fixtures.
Nigel Vagana, GM of Football and Well-being at New Zealand Rugby League, says this is a significant milestone for New Zealand’s ethnic community game.
“We’re really fortunate to have people from all walks of life involved in rugby league. The ERL has shaped some impressive players in a very short time, with international representation in several countries such as; Philipines, Thailand, Hong Kong and now India. It’s exciting this talent gets to be showcased at an international level on Sunday.
“We’re looking to further develop Indian Rugby League at both a grassroots and representative level, as well as provide more opportunities for our ethnic players going forward. We’d like to see other minority ethnicities follow suit and front representative teams in the future as well.
“Overall, this is a really exciting time, not only for our Indian players but all involved in the ERL.”
This tournament will have outstanding players selected for the upcoming NZUTSRL tour to Fiji. You’ll get to play against Australia & Fiji during 12th – 23rd October 2019. Don’t miss out!
Wakefield Park Wellington
EARLY ENTRY – $200 per team by 6th of September
LATE ENTRY – $300 per team by 17th of September
For more info contact – Carey Clements on 0210734133
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.
BILLY JEAN ALE (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)
MADISON BARTLETT (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
GEORGIA HALE (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
HONEY HIREME (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)
AMBER KANI (Counties Manukau, Manurewa Marlins)
ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)
HILDA MARIU (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
VA’ANESSA MOLIA-FRASER (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
JULES NEWMAN (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)
APII NICHOLLS (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
TANIKA-JAZZ NOBLE-BELL (Akarana, Mount Albert)
ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
KANYON PAUL (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)
CHARNTAY POKO (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
ROELA RADINIYAVUNI (Richmond Roses)
TIMAIMA RAVISA (Richmond Roses)
KRYSTAL ROTA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
TASIA SEUMANUFAGAI (Victoria, Combined Affiliated States)
AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)
CRYSTAL TAMARUA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
ATAWHAI TUPAEA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
KATHLEEN WHARTON KEREMETE (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
The National Coaching Education Manager is responsible for researching and identifying best practice coaching models as well as the overall development and implementation of the NZRL coach development programmes partnering with the coaching and development staff within Zones/Districts to deliver the plan. You will also develop coaching resources to support the NZRL coach accreditation programmes to ensure that a strong pipeline of coaches are progressing from the grassroots through the system.
This is an exciting opportunity to identify and develop best coaching models and deliver them through the coaching and development staff within the Zones and Districts.
Rugby league has played a significant part in New Zealand sport for over 100 years. Formed in 1910, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) is the governing body for the sport of rugby league in New Zealand. The NZRL catchment is divided into seven zones that service the grassroots needs of the game. These zones compete in the National Premiership / Championship, as well as women’s, youth and schools’ competitions.
NZRL is not just about success on the field – Through its “More Than A Game” philosophy, NZRL aspires to transform lives and community wellbeing through Rugby League. Underpinning this philosophy is The Kiwi Way. We are diverse, we call New Zealand home and therefore we are all Kiwis, We live and play The Kiwi Way –all day/every day.
APPLICATION CLOSING DATE – Wednesday 24th July, 2019
Download Job Description
Global Elite Sports (www.globalelitesports.com) have been contracted on behalf of New Zealand Rugby League to manage the recruitment for this position. To apply, please click here or send your resume and cover letter directly to [email protected]
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.
Congratulations to Cameron McGregor who has been awarded a New Zealand Rugby League Life Membership.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Cameron McGregor has dedicated his in entire life to the great game of rugby league.
At the age of six he began his rugby league journey playing for Richmond Rovers in 1961. Cameron played through the grades until making the premier team in 1980.
Cameron was the treasurer of Richmond Rovers Rugby League for over five years and also began and ran the Grey Lynn Park Touch tournament. He was the manager of the Marist Rugby League Premier Team and coach of the Reserve grade. On top of this, he was an ARL board member for two years in 1996 & 1997 and Deputy Chair for three in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
He had two tenures as ARL Chairman from 2001- 2013 and again 2016-2018 collectively enjoying 16 years’ of service.
He was instrumental in the sale of Carlaw Park and development of the remainder of the land with a current value of approximately $70 million. He oversaw and was instrumental in the 2/3’s purchase of the NZ Warriors and currently sits on the board, as Deputy Chairman.
Cameron was the previous Chairman of the Auckland Vulcans, Chairman of the Rugby League Development Foundation and Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Akarana Zone.
Cameron was inducted as a Life member of Auckland Rugby League in 2011 and was awarded the MNZM for Services to Rugby League 2013.
We’d like to congratulate Cameron McGregor on his NZRL Life membership, thank you Cameron, for your years of invaluable dedication and service to the great game of rugby league.
The annual NZRL National Women’s Tournament sees the best female rugby league talent from across the country come together to represent their zones in Auckland.
THE NZRL NATIONAL WOMEN’S TEAMS
DAY 1 – FRIDAY
DAY 2 – SATURDAY
DAY 3 – SUNDAY-FINALS
PLEASE NOTE: DRAW IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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.
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.
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.
Kiwi Ferns Head Coach Justin Morgan has named two debutantes for Saturday’s test against Fetu Samoa. Madison Bartlett and Kiana Takairangi will take the field in the Black and White jersey for the first time in the inaugural Oceania Cup clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
Sydney-based Takairangi, who plays for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, will join her brother Brad Takairangi as a Kiwi international.
Bartlett, a former New Zealand age-group touch representative and current Richmond Rovers player, will start on the wing with Takairangi joining Kiwi Ferns captain Honey Hireme in the centres.
The much-anticipated match between Samoa and the Ferns will kick off at 3:10pm, this Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.
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Kiwi Ferns: 1 Apii Nicholls, 2 Madison Bartlett, 3 Honey Hireme (c), 4 Kiana Takairangi, 5 Hilda Mariu, 6 Raquel Anderson-Pitman, 7 Raecene Mcgregor, 8 Annetta-Claudia Nuuausala, 9 Krystal Rota, 10 Aeishaleigh Smalley, 11 Kathleen Wharton, 12 Teuila Fotu-Moala, 13, Georgia Hale. Interchange: 14 Nita Maynard, 15 Amber Paris-Hall, 16 Amber Kani, 17 Crystal Tamarua, 18 Charntay Poko, 19 Jules Newman.
Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson have been listed as the starting halves combination for the New Zealand Kiwis’ Oceania Cup Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Saturday, June 22 (5.40pm kick-off).
Head coach Michael Maguire has named Marshall (34) in the No 7 jersey for his 28th Test, seven years after his last. Johnson is listed in the No 6 jersey for his 30th international.
The Kiwis were required to submit their team tonight despite having just their first field session at Mount Smart Stadium today. Of the starting team used in the 34-0 third Test win over England in Leeds last November, four players are missing.
Captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has been named on the wing replacing Jamayne Isaako with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in his first Test since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Marshall replaces the unavailable Kodi Nikorima while debutant Briton Nikora and Kenny Bromwich – on the interchange in Leeds – come into the starting back row to replace the injured Kevin Proctor and Adam Blair.
The extended bench comprises Jahrome Hughes, Leeson Ah Mau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, James Fisher-Harris, Zane Tetevano and Kieran Foran.
Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan has also named a strong and clinical team to take on Fetu Samoa on Saturday (3.10pm). It features debutantes Madison Bartlett and Kiana Takairangi.
The Kiwi Ferns also trained at Mount Smart Stadium today.
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS | v MATE MA’A TONGA
5.40pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia)
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS
HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE
For full player profiles please click here – https://bit.ly/2KYd6wS
KIWI FERNS v FETU SAMOA
3.10pm, Saturday, June 22, 2019
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Paki Parkinson (New Zealand)
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.
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.
JAMAYNE ISAAKO (Brisbane Broncos)
ISSAC LUKE (Vodafone Warriors)
KODI NIKORIMA (Vodafone Warriors)
AGNATIUS PAASI (Vodafone Warriors)
ISAIAH PAPALI’I (Vodafone Warriors)
JORDAN RAPANA (Canberra Raiders)
JOSEPH TAPINE (Canberra Raiders)
MARTIN TAUPAU (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Photo – Photosport
Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan has tonight named his 19-strong squad ahead of their clash against Fetu Samoa to launch the inaugural Oceania Cup at Mount Smart Stadium on June 22.
The all-Pacific doubleheader will see the Kiwi Ferns take on Fetu Samoa for the first time in 11 years ahead of the much-anticipated rematch between the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga.
The Kiwi Ferns will be captained by 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and veteran centre Honey Hireme, who first wore the black and white jersey 17 years ago.
She’s joined by a number of stand-out players from last year’s blockbuster Trans-Tasman Triple Header including 2017 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year and star fullback Apii Nicholls, centre Amber Kani and front rowers Annetta Nuuausala and Aeishaleigh Smalley – all with the Warriors – plus St George Illawarra halfback Raecene McGregor, Sydney Roosters hooker Nita Maynard, Brisbane Broncos second rower Teuila Fotu-Moala and Warriors playmakers Georgia Hale and Raquel Anderson-Pitman.
Four Kiwi Ferns debutantes have been named including Jules Newman (Mt Albert), Madison Bartlett and Charntay Poko (Richmond Rovers) and Sydney based Kiana Takairangi.
“We’re really lucky to have that mix of leadership and young talent in the team,” said Morgan.
“The girls are eager to take the field again in the black and white and a lot of them are following on from last year’s triple header Test, which is a strength for us.
“The narrow loss to the Aussies still hurts and we know Samoa will come out firing, but we’ve got some great leaders who will bring that invaluable experience, coupled with exciting new debutantes, so we’ll be bringing our best game.
“We’re really looking forward to getting into camp and focusing all our efforts on the Test.”
Tickets are still available for the Oceania Cup doubleheader here.
Gates at Mount Smart Stadium will open at 2.00pm on June 22 with the Kiwi Ferns v Fetu Samoa match kicking off at 3.10pm and the New Zealand Kiwis and Mate Ma‘a Tonga match kicking off at 5.40pm.
KIWI FERNS SQUAD
RAQUEL ANDERSON- PITMAN
AMBER PARIS HALL
Canterbury Rugby League (CRL) is the regional organisation charged with leading, developing, promoting and fostering Rugby League in Canterbury. CRL has built a strong and loyal following across the Canterbury region for over 100 years. As an organisation CRL plays an important role within the community by delivering on its strategic plan, CRL will continue to build on its rich history and create a bright future for the game.
Job tasks and responsibilities
Lead the development and promotion of rugby league in primary, intermediate and secondary schools.
The primary focus of the Development Officer is the delivery of Canterbury Rugby League’s youth and junior coaching and development plan within the Canterbury District. They will also be required to assist in the overall planning and delivery of training to all coaches, however, their primary focus will be upon developing and supporting youth coaches in the club setting.
Skills and experience
For a copy of the Job Description please email [email protected].
To apply for this job please click here
If you require any further information please contact Duane Fyfe on 021-994-494.
Wellington Rugby League (WRL) is the local sporting body responsible for the administration of rugby league in the Greater Wellington region. The board is responsible for developing and leading the strategic plan, including setting the priorities and performance criteria in order to help maintain and grow the game of Rugby League in Wellington.
WRL currently have three board vacancies for appointed members to complement the current board which is made up of independent and club representatives.
We invite applications from those who have:
Additional skills and experience sought are:
Currently, WRL is an action-oriented board and seek applications from those who have a “roll up your sleeves” attitude to join the team and make things happen for Wellington Rugby League.
Please send applications along with a copy of your CV to [email protected] or [email protected]
Thanks to Pirtek, each month we look to celebrate a volunteer who has contributed immensely to Rugby League and their community. This month, we congratulate Alan Utanga from the Pacific Sharks Rugby League Club, Tokoroa, for being our May Pirtek Volunteer of the Month.
Over the last 20-years, Alan has gone above and beyond for his league club. He was nominated by Richard and Gen McNamara who had nothing but good things to say. They described Alan as a humble person with an amazing passion for the game whose impact is felt by many on and off the field.
“Over the past two decades, Alan has worked closely with men he once trained as boys and continues to build their potential. Alan’s involvement may seem to go unnoticed to many, even to himself, being a humble individual. But his dedication to ensuring team safety both on and off the field never goes unseen.” Richard says.
“Even with the players and their post-game antics, Alan is always readily available to sober drive and keep the team safe. I have seen Alan offer exceptional advice, help and support to generations of boys playing under 13’s, to now playing senior league, coaching or better yet currently playing NRL. He’s also a growing ref for our younger age levels and has vast knowledge and passion for the women’s league. It is an ongoing privilege to see Alan give his time, energy and efforts week in, week out, season after season. He has helped shape a lot of boys into amazing men playing rugby league.”
“I hope my son is fortunate enough to be taught by Alan, as my brothers and I were.” Richard concludes.
Chris Bourke, General Manager at Pirtek says “Alan’s commitment to the game of rugby league is outstanding and his ability to transfer and share his knowledge of the game to generations of players is a credit to him.”
“With safety a priority at Pirtek, we appreciate Alan’s commitment to team safety on and off the field. His ability to cross over with support to all aspects of the game within the Pacific Sharks makes Alan an indispensable asset to the game for Tokoroa and for New Zealand.”
Nominations are now open for Pirtek’s June Volunteer of the Month.
Congratulations to league legend, Sir Graham Lowe, who headlined NZ sporting identities in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours – becoming a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Firstly known for his dedication to the game, this accolade recognises his important services off the field, as he’s knighted for his work with youth and education.
Sir Graham has enjoyed a distinguished career in the game, coaching the Kiwis to victory over the all-conquering Kangaroos, guiding Manly and Wigan to success in Australian and English professional ranks, and steering Queensland home over NSW at State of Origin.
He previously received a Queen’s Service Medal in 1986 New Year Honours and became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 New Year Honours, but all his titles – including this latest – have recognised his community service.
The 72-year-old was knighted for his services to youth and education, with his Lowie Foundation delivering a literacy and numeracy programme to 12-19-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Rugby league and sport are really important and play a big part in our lives, but I’m a believer in supporting, helping and educating disadvantaged young people,” he said.
“I saw many times young people who were oozing rugby league talent, but they lacked a successful pathway because they didn’t appreciate how important literacy and numeracy were in life. So many of them missed out and when I combine that with many of the players I’ve coached, I owe so much to them.
“A lot of them came from these really disadvantaged backgrounds and I wanted to see if I could put something back in that area. That’s what I’ve been really focused on for many years.”
We want to congratulate Graham for epitomising our More Than A Game philosophy and thank him for his hard work and dedication to effecting important change within our communities.
It’s with great sadness that we announce, former New Zealand Secondary School and under-18 representative Zae Wallace, has passed away after being struck down with the flu.
The young sportsman who’s represented New Zealand at age group level returned to Auckland this year following a stint with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side and had been in an induced coma for four weeks.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, Wallace signed a contract with the Titans to play in the NYC under-20 competition. Wallace spent that season with the Titans then joined the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup.
Playing at halfback and being the youngest member of the squad, Wallace was one of the Akarana Falcons star performers in their National Premiership championship victory in 2016. That same year he was named Auckland Rugby League’s College Player of the Year.
He won selection following a standout season with the Mt Albert Lions in Auckland’s Fox Premier Rugby League Competition. He had returned to New Zealand to play with the Northcote Tigers and had only played one game when he became ill.
Wallace is described as a “lovely and cheeky” young man, who had a great sense of humour and a great bunch of friends. A givealittle page had been set up to raise funds in support of his courageous battle, one friend wrote, “Champions don’t stop, they dust themselves off and push on. This young man is all champion.”
Our deepest condolences go out to Zae’s family and friends, not only was he a rising league star with exciting skill and potential, he was loved by many. A young talent that will be sorely missed.
The New Zealand Rugby League Museum has unveiled a new cabinet celebrating Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand (PDRLNZ) and their contribution to the game.
As an associate member of NZRL, PDRLNZ has provided our players with a platform to develop, succeed and grow through rugby league, no matter the barrier. This cabinet showcases PDRLNZ’s contribution to the game on and off the field, as they continue to bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled athletes, break down social stigmas and effect change within our communities.
Since its launch in 2015, PDRLNZ has worked tirelessly to provide a platform for our disabled athletes to showcase their skills domestically and internationally. In 2017, PDRLNZ hosted the inaugural International tournament – the Auckland PDRL Nines. Following this, the PDRLNZ team went to the 2018 Commonwealth Championships in Brisbane, with the New Zealand squad playing a world first PDRL international Tri-test series against Australia and the Commonwealth All Stars. And just recently, PDRLNZ sent a Kiwis team to the 2018 Rugby League Emerging Nations World Championships in Sydney.
Sandra Hickey, Founder and Chair of PDRLNZ says “We are thrilled to have our journey displayed here at NZRL museum alongside the rest of our Rugby League family. This is a proud moment for all of us here at Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand as history has been made.”
Greg Peters, CEO of NZRL says “PDRLNZ is a perfect example of how we use rugby league to unite communities of people from all tribes and walks of life – which of course, is the Kiwi Way. Their athletes champion the Kiwi Way every single day, embodying values such as diversity, inclusiveness and courage – to name a few.
“PDRLNZ, it’s players, staff, volunteers and all associated, epitomise our More Than A Game philosophy, they lead by example, acting as role-models to all in our league communities from up and down the country. We want to thank them, not only for their work towards growing the game on the field but for effecting important change off the field as well.” Greg concluded.
Looking ahead, NZRL and PDRLNZ are hoping to have PDRL games as test curtain raisers, providing more opportunities for our athletes to play on the international stage.
Players, families and supporters from across the decades will head to Murray Halberg Park this weekend as the Marist Rugby League Club celebrates 100 years of existence.
It all starts with a masters game against Pt Chevalier on Friday night, with a number of the two clubs’ best-known players set to take the field.
Pirates legend Stacey Jones will don the No.7 jersey, with Monty Betham and Wairangi Koopu named on the bench, while current Marist coach Francis Meli heads up a Saints team which also includes Willie Wolfgramm and Henry Turua.
The game will be followed by a mix and mingle night at the club.
On Saturday the morning will be full of mini/mod games, and aside from rugby league the day will feature food stalls and activities for kids.
That evening the club will host a black-tie dinner at Alexandra Park in Epsom, with live entertainment from well-known musician Lapi Mariner and his 20/20 band.
The Saints will end the weekend on Sunday with a family day. Entertainment will be provided by the local community, including the Saints Up Performing Arts Academy and Owairaka Primary School.
Some points to note on the history of the club:
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