Relive the successes and challenges of the past year, with the 2014/15 NZRL Annual Report, now posted online.
This publication includes reports from the chief executive and board, as well as results from our national teams and tournaments.
There is also coverage of our off-field successes in the commercial and community programmes, along with the statement of accounts for the past 12 months.
Download the report here.
Former New Zealand Rugby League chairman Sel Pearson, and ex Kiwis Jack Fagan and Brian Reidy have been named NZRL life members for their decades of service to the game.
Meanwhile, Gordon Gibbons (Akarana), Pat Carthy (Akarana), Graham Pitts (Northland RL) and Carey Clements (Southern Zone) have been selected for Distinguished Service Awards at the NZRL annual meeting in Auckland.
The additions of Pearson, Fagan and Reidy bring the ranks of life members to 18, with a maximum possible of 20.
Nominated by Akarana Zone, Pearson was NZRL chair from 2001-06, but his dedication to rugby league stretches back to the 1950s, where he began his playing career with the North Shore Albion club.
Since then, he has carved an outstanding reputation as an administrator, serving as Auckland Rugby League chair (1998-2000) and the NZ Warriors (2001), and raising many millions of dollars towards local and national development of league.
During his tenure with the national body, he oversaw the purchase of NZRL House in Penrose, venue for today’s meeting.
“I am really humbled to give this life membership out, it’s well overdue and well deserved,” said selection panel chair Ray Haffenden.
Fagan (Kiwi #401) has been a player, coach and administrator for more than 75 years, representing Auckland and New Zealand as a fullback for 53 games (17 tests) from 1961-67.
He coached NZ Universities from 1968-71 and was a chairman of NZ Universities Rugby League for three years. Fagan was a founding member of the Auckland Leagues Club, has been vice chairman of the NZRL Kiwis Association for more than 20 years and has served on the NZRL Museum board since its inception in 2004.
He has been a member of the NZ judiciary committee for 34 years.
Reidy (Kiwi #383) played his first game of rugby league for Auckland Marist in 1947 and amassed more than 400 games for them, before hanging up his boots in the late 1960s. He was later made a life member of the club.
He played 21 tests for the national team, scoring 34 tries from 1959-66 and earning the nickname “Speedy Reidy”.
Reidy is a life member of the NZRL Kiwis Association, was secretary/treasurer for more than 45 years and still serves as treasurer. He is also a founding member and treasurer of the NZRL Museum, and a member of NZRL and Auckland Rugby League judiciaries.
The new life members will be honoured at an official function later this year, while distinguished service awards will be presented at the next NZRL Awards ceremony.
The full list of NZRL life members currently stands at:
John Bray, Jim Campbell, Ray Cranch, Ken English, Fagan, Cathy Friend, Allen Gore, Don Hammond, Ray Haffenden, Peter Kerridge, Bud Lisle, Tom McKeown, Trevor Maxwell, Pearson, Reidy, Gerald Ryan, Howie Tamati, Bill Whitehead
The annual meeting also confirmed three board director appointments – incumbent Jennifer Rolfe was re-appointed for a further term, while Kiwi legend Tawera Nikau and former Canterbury RL chairman Reon Edwards were added.
NZ Rugby League reported a modest $16,000 surplus for the 12 months. This disappointing result was due mainly to a surprising zero return from the 2014 Anzac Test, staged in Sydney.
Michael Burgess, Herald On Sunday
Early last month, scouts from the Roosters turned up at Walter Massey Park in South Auckland for a Fox Memorial match between the Pt Chevalier Pirates and Mangere East Hawks.
They were acting on a tip, to check out the Pirates No 12. That, in itself, is not that unusual, except the No 12 was almost 25 and had given up on his NRL dream years ago.
A man who, after some early promise, had turned his back on the game in 2011 to complete a Mormon mission. A man who weighed 130kg last year and had spent almost three years away from the sport. A man who was getting up at 5am every morning for his job at the freezing works, and taking night classes as he plotted a business future.
This is the extraordinary tale of Paki Afu. He's the local boy made good, who has come back from some "lost years" to have a shot at the NRL.
Laura Brookes, Manukau Courier
A South Aucklander with cerebral palsy is changing the scope of opportunity for disabled people in sport.
Papakura resident Mathew Ngametua, 34, started New Zealand's first physical disability rugby league in March after realising the lack of opportunity for disabled players.
"There's nothing in New Zealand that accommodates people with physical disabilities for rugby league, unless you want to play in a wheelchair.
"We're actually breaking barriers at the moment. There's potential there and we're showing people we can do it. Every game is another stepping stone."
Melbourne Storm will wear a special jersey for the club's one-off match next month in Napier, New Zealand, designed by Kiwi international forward Tohu Harris.
Taking the field against St George Illawarra at McLean Park on July 25, Storm will don the specially designed jersey that draws on several local Maori and Pacific Island designs, inspired by the Hawke's Bay and Hastings regions.
The jersey incorporates several new elements that highlight the different cultures making up the Melbourne Storm family, while staying true to Storm's traditional purple and navy colour base and also containing the club's signature thunderbolts.
"The inspiration came from family in Hawke's Bay and Hastings, but the jersey represents a lot more and a lot of the people from that area," Harris said.
"On the jersey, there are a lot of Maori and Pacific Island designs. We have a strong link with that here at Melbourne Storm, and we wanted to show that everyone is together and united.
"It's extremely proud for me, my wife and our families back home [to have designed the jersey].
"I'm very happy with how it's turned out, and the boys are excited to wear the jersey and playing in Napier in front of a full McLean Park."
The jersey also features the Ovarian Cancer Australia’s logo on the front of the jersey, as it has a number of times when the team plays in New Zealand.
Ovarian Cancer Australia has been a long-term charity partner of the Melbourne Storm and is the leading not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to raising awareness of ovarian cancer, and delivering support to women and their families affected by the disease.
Storm will host the third placed St. George Illawarra at McLean Park on Saturday 25 July with the Club's trio of New Zealand internationals, Harris, Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor headlining the high profile clash against Benji Marshall's Dragons.
Tickets are selling strongly for the Round 20 showdown with all corporate tickets sold out and only 1000 reserved seats available in the grandstand. Tickets are still available in the general admission embankment at McLean Park, starting from as little as $20 for adults.
The specially designed jersey for Storm's match in Napier is now available for purchase online.
Fans will also be able to get their hands on a jersey on game day at McLean Park. A "pop-up" store containing Storm merchandise, including the specially designed jersey, will also be located in downtown Napier in the week leading up to the game.
Story behind the design
The story behind the design for this jersey begins with the epic journey over 1000 years ago of Maori on the Takitimu canoe across the Pacific Ocean, through Samoa, Tonga, Rarotonga and other Polynesian islands, to New Zealand. Paramount chief Tamatea was captain of the canoe.
Tamatea’s son, Kahungunu, settled in Hawke’s Bay, the home of the Ngati Kahungunu tribe today, and the front of the jersey has a stylised figure of Tamatea, with the face sublimated on the back as acknowledgement of Ngati Kahungunu, who are to welcome the Melbourne Storm to Hawke’s Bay in the traditional way.
On the jersey are the colours of red and black - in Maoridom, red is for chieftainship, black is for all the people. These colours are a reminder to uphold mana, not only the mana of those that came before, but your own as well.
Mana can be described as authority, power, influence, status, spiritual power or prestige, individually or collectively.
On the front of the jersey, the striking Melbourne Storm lightning bolts express the power of Tawhirimatea, the god of the elements, who was called upon to protect the Takitimu canoe from ocean storms and to provide favourable winds for the journey.
The lines that thrust up from the lightning strike indicate the harnessed winds of Tawhirimatea.
Polynesian and Maori patterns are integrated into the design to acknowledge the shared history of Polynesia, through the Takitimu canoe and the flax-weaving design on the sides signify the various cultures woven into the Melbourne Storm family.