While Auckland's fickle weather hasn't made for pleasant
preparations, those wet and windy conditions may play right into
the hands of the NZ Secondary Schools team, as they face off
against their Australian rivals tomorrow.
The local side gathered over the weekend for their one-off
encounter with New South Wales Combined High Schools at Westlake
Boys High School (3.30pm) and coach Andrew Auimatagi is licking his
lips at the prospect.
"Spirits are high, even though the weather is not that flash,"
he insists. "We've got a good group of guys, ready to work for each
Auimatagi's school - St Thomas of Canterbury College - did not
contest this month's NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament, so
he has been able to bring a strictly neutral eye to the camp.
"I was impressed with the talent at that tournament and the boys
in our team definitely stood out," he says. "I'm looking forward to
seeing them in action this week.
"It's a big thing for them to wear the silver fern on their
chest and they've stepped up to the mark so far. It's a good
opportunity for them to put themselves out there and be watched by
a big crowd on the day.
"For me, personally, it's a huge honour to coach at this level
and I'm looking forward to it."
Auimatagi is also under no illusions what his team will be up
against. Their state opposition will be brimming with talent and
determined not to slip up against the locals.
"They're going to be pretty well drilled and doing all the
little things really well," he says. "We'll need to match that,
plus a bit more.
"We've got size and strength, so we'll be looking to play them
in the middle third of the park and build pressure.
"They won't like the weather much either."
New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Phil Holden is
particularly excited to stage the game at Westlake Boys High
School, where the rugby league programme is in its infancy, but has
already achieved a top-10 finish at the national tournament.
"WBHS has a proud tradition in a wide range of sports, but is a
relative newcomer to rugby league," says Holden. "We hope its
valued support will show other schools what can be achieved in our
NZ SECONDARY SCHOOLS V NSW COMBINED HIGH SCHOOLS
3.30pm, Westlake Boys High School, Auckland
New Zealand: Tise Aivalu (Manurewa HS), Erin
Clark (Manurewa HS), Beau Cordtz (St Paul's College), Zion Ioka
(Kelston BHS), Charlie Kaipati (Kelston BHS), Nic Lui-toso (Kelston
BHS), James Mafi (Kelston BHS), Tyler Mohi (Aorere College),
Brandon Nangaiti (Otahuhu College), Junior Pauga (Kelston BHS),
Reuben Porter (Mt Albert Grammar), Michael Saili-Motu (Manurewa
HS), Peter Scanlan (Keltson BHS), Lewis Soosemea (Aorere College),
Cyrus Timo-Latu (Aranui HS), Scott Tofa-Timoteo (St Paul's
College), Viliami Tosi (Rotorua BHS), David Tuisane (Manurewa HS),
Eddie Wolf (Kelston BHS)
Coach: Andrew Auimatagi (St Thomas of Canterbury College)
Assistant coach: Dave McDermott (Kelston Boys High School)
Manager: Billy Maea (Tokoroa High School)
NSW Combined High Schools: Jarred Anderson
(Hunter Sports High), Tye Barry (Farrer Memorial High), Daniel
Brown (The Hills Sports High), Jye Challenor (Westfields Sports
High), Kiah Cooper (Hunter Sports High), Cayne Dockar-Clay (The
Hills Sports High), Kieran Hayman (The Hills Sports High), Cameron
King (Westfields Sports High), Ryan King (Figtree High), Kurtis
Langdon (Hunter River High), Corey Manicaros (Farrer Memorial
High), Luke Marks (Hunter Sports High), Liam Martin (West Wyalong
High), Zac Masters (Tumut High), Jack Murchie (Ulladulla High),
Curtis Scott (Endeavour Sports High), Marvin Slavin (The Hills
Sports High), Harry Van Dartel (Dubbo College Senior Campus)
Coach: Tony Tilburg (Blayney High)
Manager: Rod McAnulty (Erskine Park High)
Trainer: Tony Wilson (Gilgandra High)
Referee - Chris McMillan; touch - Kiko Puhipi Hibbs &
Wai-Coa-Bay piled more misfortune on the hapless Northern
Swords, but edged themselves higher up the Pirtek NZRL National
Premiership ladder with a 50-4 win in Whangarei.
The Stallions entered the contest with just one win to their
credit this season - a dramatic comeback against Wellington Orcas
two weeks ago - but were a class above their hosts this time.
With five-eighth Johnson Peri bagging a hat-trick, the visitors
crossed for nine tries and led 22-4 at the break.
This was the second consecutive game the Swords had conceded 50
points and their chances of securing a victory this season now look
Their four defeats so far have been by an average of 42 points,
with remaining fixtures against defending champions Akarana Falcons
and unbeaten competition leaders Canterbury Bulls leaving little
hope of salvation.
PIRTEK NZRL NATIONAL PREMIERSHIP
Sunday, September 21
Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions 50 (Johnson Peri 3, Caleb
Heke, John Koko, Hohepa Monk, Hone Love-Henry, Terry Kapua &
Daley Rata-Makene tries; Hayden Karena 7 goals) Northern
Swords 4 (Ross McFarlane try); HT: 22-4
Swords: 1-Israel Tahere, 2-Waipu Stone, 3-C
Henare, 4-Ross McFarlane,
5-Tumoana Halkyard, 6-Daniel Fulop, 7-Dean Schreurs, 17-Andre
Lennox, 9 Joel Freeman, 10 Michael Salase, 11-Jordan Hool, 12-Adam
Donaldson, 18-T Tipene, 14-Chris Apoua, 15-Manu Tuhoro, 16-Sharif
Mangu, 19-Patrick Tane
Stallions: 1-Caleb Heke, 2-Isaac Robinson,
3-John Koko, 4- Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano, 19-Hohepa Monk, 6-Johnson
Peri, 7-Hayden Karena, 10-Callin Tereu, 9-Raureti Grace, 8-Lionel
Skipwith, 13-Terry Kopua, 12-Hone Love-Henry, 11-Cassius Dunn-Reid,
14-Daley Rata-Makene, 15-Mosese Mafi, 16-Riki Collier, 17-T
Maniapoto Gary Tupala
Referee - Kiko Puhipi Hibbs
Touch - Chris McMillan
& Tane Kaiwai
Defending champions Akarana barely kept their hopes of a fifth
straight title alive, with a hard-fought 26-24 home win over
archrivals Counties Manukau in the Pirtek NZRL National
And at the end of the day, Canterbury Bulls sat atop the
competition ladder, as the only team yet to taste defeat this
The Falcons entered their contest at Ellerslie Domain with a
loss already to their name this season and the prospect of
elimination if they fell to the unbeaten Stingrays.
But, bolstered by the return of some front-line performers, the
hosts controlled much of the play and held on as their southern
neightbours made a run at them in the duing minutes.a
Young fullback Mao Uta starred with a pair of tries to his name,
but the decisive scoring act was ultimately Cody Walker's penalty
goal midway through the second half, taking his side out beyond two
converted tries (26-12).
The Stingrays responded with tries to Terence Phillips and Eko
Malu, both converted by William Stowers, but ran out of time to
capitalise fully on the momentum shift.
Probably the most influential newcomer for Akarana was scrumhalf
Sam Cook, back from his campaign with the Vodafone Warriors
reserves. He created the first try, when he took a clever offloard
from hooker Marcus Fraser, made good metres down the centre of the
park and put Uta away for the line.
Cook's long pass also made space for wing Jeremiah Faaumuumu to
cross for the second try, both converted by five-eighth Cody
Walker, before Pakisonasi Afu and Raymond Taimale responded for
Countries to lock the scores at 12-12 at halftime.
Uta had his second soon after the break and when Semisi Mau
scrumbled over from dummy half, the Falcons seemed to have the game
well in hand.
The Stingrays were their own worst enemies throughout, showing
plenty of enterprise, but let down badly by simple handling
They were lucky to survive what seemed like another try, when
Falcons prop Eddy Purcell dotted down under the posts, only to be
called back for a forward pass.
But Counties could not clear the ball and minutes later, an
infringement in front of those same uprights allowed Walker to slot
his telling penalty.
In Christchurch, the Bulls grabbed outright lead in the
premiership and maintained their unblemished record with a 46-28
result over Wellington Orcas.
The visitors were still in the hunt at halftime, trailling just
28-24, but with debutant Jack Mundy bagging a hat-trick of tries,
Canterbury eased away over the final 40 minutes.
They face Counties Manukau on the road next week, with a chance
to eliminate the previous frontrunners from title contention.
Saturday, September 20
Ellerslie Domain, Auckland
Akarana Falcons 26 (Mao Uta 2, Jeremiah
Faaumuumu & Semisi Mau tries; Cody Walker 4 & Sam Cook
goals) Counties Manukau Stingrays 24 (Tomas Aoake,
Terence Phillips, Pakisonasi Afu & Eko Malu tries; William
Stowers 4 goals); HT: 12-12
Falcons: 1-Mao Uta, 2-Saula Solomona, 3-Willie
Peace, 4-Semisi Fotu, 5-Jeremiah Faaumuumu, 6-Sam Cook, 7-Cody
Walker, 8-Eddy Purcell, 9-Marcus Fraser,
10-Soape Kavaliku, 11-Malakai Houma, 12-Taylor Daniels, 13-Tulson
Caird, 15-Semisi Mau, 14-Karl Simeti, 16-Lila Vaivai, 17-Siliga
Stingrays: 1-George Edwards, 2-Raymond Taimale,
3-Mapa Tuipulotu, 4-Filipine Jacob Aki, 5-Tomas Aoake, 6- Terence
Phillips, 7-William Stowers, 8-Tony Tuia, 9-Jethro Friend,
10-Pakisonasi Afu, 11-Sione Feao, 13-Dion Snell, 12-Vila Aiopolu,
17-Eko Malu, 14-Zebastian Luisi, 15-Joseph Price, 16-Michael Ki
Referee - Aaron Kesha
Touch - Rochelle Tamarua & Chris McMillan
Denton Park, Christchurch
Canterbury Bulls 46 (Jack Mundy 3, Ken Tofilau,
Manu Weepu, Kyle Leka, Alani Kakoi & Paul Sauni tries; Toi
Sepoluni 7 goals) Wellington Orcas 28 (Raymond
Lesoa, Michael O'Brien, Anthony Utanga, Chance Haua-Tauri &
Chozen Rameka tries; Ben Tuia 3 & Bernard Gregorius goals); HT:
Bulls: 1-Ken Tofilau, 2-Sioeli Otufangavalu,
3-Erwin Sauni, 4-Jack Mundy, 5-Will Tafua, 6-Toi Sepuloni, 7-Izic
Placid, 20-JJ Smith, 9-Manu Weepu, 10-Chris Bamford, 11-Kyle Leka,
12-Corey Lawire, 13-Agaese Fiso, 14-Alani Kakoi, 15-Paradise Mann,
16-Paul Sauni, 17-John Tafua
Orcas: 1-Petera Rikiriki-Williams, 2-David
Saumolia, 4-Ben Tuia, 3-Raymond Lesoa, 5-Bernard Gregorius,
6-Michael O'Brien, 7-Anthony Utanga, 10-Chance Haua-Tauri,
9-Grayson Putu, 8-Robbie Mckenzie, 12-Phillip Salevao, 11-Nicholas
Phillips, 13- Denzil Hokianga, 14-Chozen Rameka, 16-Robin Yates,
15-Joseph Apikotoa, 17-Paul Lemana
Referee - Tony Arnel
Touch - Jason Wilson & Daryl Maitai
Former Kiwi Tony Iro has resigned from his role as New Zealand
Rugby League high performance general manager to return to his
previous position as assistant coach at the Vodafone Warriors.
But NZRL chief executive Phil Holden is happy to see Iro
following his heart.
"Tony has done an incredible job for us and really taken our
high performance programme to another level since arriving almost
two years ago," says Holden.
"But while he has proven himself to be a very capable
administrator, coaching is his true passion and we completely
support him as he pursues his dream.
"Tony is also a great guy and personifies the values that we're
trying to establish in our organisation.
"He will be missed terribly by his colleagues and our challenge
now is to find someone to continue the great work he has done
Iro (Kiwi # 606) arrived at NZRL after his previous stint with
the Warriors ended in 2012. He had spent eight years at the club,
guiding their NYC team from 2008-09 and then assisting with the
premier side from 2010-12, helping them to the 2011 NRL grand
When head coach Brian McClennan did not last his first season,
Iro took over the post temporarily, but was not retained for the
"I've enjoyed my two years with NZRL, working with the Kiwis and
in the high performance area, but I always wanted to coach in the
NRL again," says Iro.
"I've got strong ties with the Vodafone Warriors after my time
with the club and couldn't be more excited about returning. The
club has so much to offer."
His experience and mana are just what current Warriors coach
Andrew McFadden needs, as he prepares for his first full season in
"Tony is an ideal choice, just the sort of person I need," says
McFadden. "He has the depth of coaching experience I was after, and
he has so much knowledge about the club and about the players here,
most of whom he has worked with."
Iro is committed to NZRL until the upcoming Four Nations
tournament is over and, in the meantime, the national body will
begin its search for his replacement.
Several of New Zealand's top teenage rugby league stars will do
double international duty over the next two weeks, after being
named in the NZ 18s side.
The age-group team will face the New South Wales-based Taurahere
Kiwis in a two-test series on September 29 and October 2 in
Rotorua, held in conjunction with the "Got A Trade?" NZRL National
But six - Nick Lui-Toso (Kelston BHS), Eddie Wulf (Kelston BHS),
Erin Clark (Manurewa HS), Reuben Porter (Mt Albert Grammar), Tyler
Mohi (Aorere College) and Zion Ioka (Kelston BHS) - will also line
up for the NZ Secondary Schools side to take on New South Wales
Combined High Schools next Tuesday (September 23) at Westlake Boys
The final group also includes Ofahiki Ogden and Mafoa'aeata
Hingano from the Junior Warriors squad. Eight Warriors were named
in the extended squad, but most are unavailable due to their
continued progress in the NRL Holden Cup competition.
The full NZ 18s squad, to be coached by Tom Ball and assistant
Moehewa Armstrong, is:
Joseph Apikotoa (Wellington/Randwick), Erin Clark (Akarana/Pt
Chevalier), Mattais Heimuli (Akarana/Glenora), Mafoa'aeata Hingano
(Counties Manukau/Pakuranga), Jamel Hunt (Counties
Manukau/Otahuhu), Zion Ioka (Akarana/Glenora), Nick Lui-Toso
(Akarana/Glenora), Dre Melvin (Wellington/Porirua), Christian Mika
(Counties Manukau/Otahuhu), Tyler Mohi (Counties Manukau/Mangere
East), Ofahiki Ogden (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Fabien
Paletua-Kiri (Mid Central/Kia Ora), Reuben Porter (Akarana/Te
Atatu), Joseph Price (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Ken Tofilau
(South Island/Halswell), Fuaimamao Uta (Akarana/Northcote), Tiaan
Wilkins (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Eddie Wulf
(Akarana/Marist), Logan Yates (Akarana/Pakuranga)
Standby: Connor Purcell (Akarana/Otahuhu), Richard Timoti
NZ 18s v TAURAHERE KIWIS 18s
Puketawhero Park, Rotorua
First Test - Monday, September 29, 12.45pm
Second Test - Friday, October 3, 12.15pm
NZ Rugby League would like to
acknowledge and thank our official youth development partners - The
Skills Organisation & Competenz ("Got a Trade? Got it Made!")
and the Vodafone Warriors - working together to provide a bright
future for our young talent, on and off the