NZ Rugby League and SKY Television have confirmed a
blockbuster doubleheader that will highlight the game's best
domestic talent, as well as the next wave of future
On Saturday, October 18, Mt Smart Stadium will host the
Pirtek National Premiership final, featuring the two best teams
after a two-month round robin regular season.
Later that evening, the NZ Junior Kiwis will take on the
Australian Junior Kangaroos for what promises to be another keenly
contested chapter in thre trans-Tasman rivalry.
Both games will be shown live on SKY.
"The Pirtek National Premiership is an important step in
our domestic pathway, giving our NZ-based players something
tangible to strive for at the climax of their season," says NZRL
chief executive Phil Holden.
"It is also another chance for these players to catch the
eye of NRL clubs and extend their careers into the professional
The last player to achieve this was 2014 Kiwis rookie Peta
Hiku, who played for Counties Manukau as a teenager in 2011 and
then embarked on a journey that passed through the NZ Warriors
youth programme on the way to Manly Sea Eagles.
Last year, Akarana Falcons defeated Counties Manukau 22-12
for their fourth straight title.
In recent years, the Junior Kiwis have provided an even
greater springboard to bigger things.
Four of the 2012 Junior Kiwis side - Hiku, Roger
Tuivasa-Sheck, Siliva Havili and Tohu Harris - have already
graduated to senior honours, while Harris and Havili were part of
the 2011 line-up that toppled Australia 28-16 at
Last year, the JKs led 26-10 just after halftime in
Sydney, before finally succumbing 38-26.
"There can be no higher honour than representing your
country and for many of these young men, this will be a pivotal
game in their careers," says Holden.
"If we are to achieve our World Cup goals over the next
decade, these players will be an important part of that, so this is
an opportunity to taste early success against the
The double feature, falling one week out from the Four
Nations opener in Brisbane, reinforces SKY's position as the
premier source of rugby league coverage in New Zealand.
"It's always great to broadcast quality domestic sport on
SKY," says SKY director of sport Richard Last. "Rugby league fans
can look forward to watching future superstars of the game in the
national premiership final and the Junior Kiwis match against
"These fixtures offer the best of both worlds and the
timing is perfect ahead of what should be a thrilling Four Nations
Saturday, October 18
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
5pm Pirtek National
7pm Junior Kiwis v Junior
Sydney Morning Herald
"We're going to change you."
They were some of the first words South Sydney coach Michael
Maguire exchanged with Issac Luke in a heated phone call.
Little did Maguire know at the time that the exercise of
changing Luke would be more of a journey of self discovery as the
Rabbitohs rake went about revealing his true colours.
Luke was so ashamed of the way he spoke, he found it easier to
isolate himself rather than run the risk of saying something that
would humiliate him.
That is why only a few people know anything about his interests
and hidden talents, like his ability to play a song on the piano
just by listening to it.
Sitting in front of a Steinway & Sons piano inside Sydney's
City Recital Hall on Wednesday, Luke showed off his rare skill
playing anything from the Eagles to Mariah Carey.
Sarah Harvey, Sunday News
The New Zealand Rugby League is setting up academies
to stop a trans-Tasman drain of young players, who head to the
lucky country with high hopes and can end up
It's the loneliness that hits first. Then the homesickness, and
the culture shock.
Young men with bodies of fully grown adults struggling to
survive in the often cut-throat world of professional rugby
Teenagers as young as 15 from big families and supportive
communities adjusting to life, alone, in a new city and new
country, often with the expectations of a club and a community
Up to 700 teenage league players leave New Zealand for Australia
Some go because their entire family wants to settle in the
"lucky country". Others are lured by player agents or picked up as
development players by NRL clubs.
About one per cent will make it into the NRL, the rest will
return home with their tail between their legs, or be lost to rugby
For every bet placed on the Warriors home game against the Manly
Sea Eagles on Sunday, July 27, the TAB will donate $1 (to a maximum
of $16,000) to the #RiseForAlex fund, in support of injured
Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon.
The TAB give New Zealand Rugby League hundreds of thousands of
dollars every year from bets placed.
All profit from sports betting is returned to New Zealand
sporting codes - $4.2million was paid out to New Zealand sporting
bodies at the end of last season - or the New Zealand Racing
Betting on Warriors v Sea Eagles will open on Tuesday.
The NZ Kiwis inside pairing of Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson
seem to be hitting their straps at the right time of the NRL
season, earning praise from their international coach, Stephen
Both were instrumental in guiding their respective teams to big
wins in Round 18. Foran scored two tries in Manly's 40-8 win over
Wests Tigers, while Johnson had a try and kicked 8/8 goals in the
NZ Warriors' 48-0 romp over Parramatta Eels.
"Kieran was on top of my list," says Kearney. "His performance
was the standout.
"But Shaun and his team also put on a dominant display, and it
was probably the culmination of a few weeks now. It has been a real
step up for him."
But Kiwis and Warriors skipper Simon Mannering simply continued
his run of outstanding form, with a game-high 168 metres and 19
tackles against the Eels.
"We all know he is now one of the premier forwards of the
competition," says Kearney. "The reason the Warriors are in the
position they are now is because they have him as captain, leading
"The people who know Simon all know what he offers to a
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