Well, if you're an NZ rugby league fan, there has been no
better time to follow the game than the past six weeks.
Four Nations success on home turf has provided the game
with a huge boost around the country, with international games
staged in Whangarei, Dunedin and Wellington.
We've put together an "In Touch" souvenir of that ride,
including pics, game reports and some commentary on what victory
means to rugby league in New Zealand.
With our Kiwi Ferns and Junior Kiwis also upsetting their
Aussie rivals, could this be a shift in power at international
That's a nice thought, but let's just enjoy this
moment while we can, without getting ahead of
Enjoy our special "In Touch" Four
Nations issue here.
Thanks to Photosport for most of the
great action pics.
The New Zealand Kiwis have survived a late Australian Kangaroos
comeback to win the 2014 Four Nations title 22-18 at Westpac
Stadium in Wellington.
Victory gave New Zealand their second title, after claiming the
2010 edition of the tournament. It also saw the Kiwis beating the
Kangaroos in consecutive matches for the first time in 61
Inspired by a man-of-the-match performance from Shaun Johnson,
who scored the individual try of the game by dummying past
defenders, outrunning some more and then beating Greg Inglis's
tackle, the home team looked like winners for most of the
The Kiwis took the lead in the 28th minute and never surrendered
it. However, the Australians, who headed into the tournament with
only one loss in their previous 36 tests, came close to stealing
the game back in the final three minutes.
Kangaroo Michael Jennings opened the scoring early on from a
bomb, befpre New Zealand centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall cut around the
outside on 23 minutes, finding a gap on halfway and making it to
the 10-metre line, before being dragged down.
A quick play the ball and a pass to the right caught Australia
short, and a diving Jason Nightingale crossed for a try that
Johnson converted from the sideline.
When Cameron Smith was ruled to have tackled Kieran Foran high,
the Kiwis elected to take the easy two points, grabbing an 8-6
lead, before Manu Vatuvei capped off a piece of Johnson brilliance
with a try in the left corner minutes later.
Another sideline conversion from Johnson sent the Kiwis to
halftime with a 14-6 lead. Into the second half, Daly Cherry-Evans
was able to slice through and pass for Sione Mata'utia to score his
first test try.
Smith converted to make the score 14-12 to the home team.
The game was then held up for several minutes, while Martin
Taupau was stretchered from the field with a suspected neck
The next scoring saw Johnson showing his class and brilliance,
but his conversion hit the post and missed. Vatuvei then literally
smashed his way over, before Johnson hit the posts again with the
Interchange Ben Hunt scored in the final minutes, after some
deft interpassing and Smith converted to close the scoreline to
22-18 to the Kiwis.
The Kangaroos again attacked and threatened to steal the game,
but the NZ defence was just enough to win the game.
NZ Kiwis 22 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Jason Nightingale,
Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 3 goals) Australia
Kangaroos 18 (Michael Jennings, Sione Mata'utia, Ben Hunt
tries; Cameron Smith 3 goals); HT: 14-6
Education minister Hekia Parata has announced a partnership with
New Zealand Rugby League to improve the education, health and
wellbeing of thousands of young people and families.
Parata says "It's More Than Just A Game" brings together NZ
Rugby League (NZRL), the Ministry of Education, the Accident
Compensation Corporation, the Health Promotion Agency and New
"NZRL has a strong relationship with players, their families and
fans numbering about 140,000 across the country, many of them in
Maori and Pasifika communities.
"We've made great progress in areas such as participation in
quality early-childhood education and achievement of NCEA Level 2,
particularly for Maori and Pasifika, but we know more needs to be
Parata says "It's More Than Just a Game" recognises people
respond far more positively to messages from within their own
"We've welcomed the opportunity of NZRL's powerful influence and
relationships with communities and whānau to get a more educated,
healthier, better-off and safer New Zealand.
"NZRL will promote access to public services, including
assisting 300 junior players to achieve NCEA Level 2, and expanding
early learning playgroups. It will also support health checks for
young children, safe-drinking and smoke-free environments, and
promote healthy and safe lifestyles through the "LeagueWise"
leadership programme and "Safe Communities" initiatives.
NZRL chief executive Phil Holden says NZRL plays an important
part in the health and wellbeing of its people.
"We support our communities on and off the field, whether in
early learning, developing future leaders or promoting better
choices. We've found government partners who understand our
challenges, share our values and will help provide solutions," he
"This is a fabulous opportunity, and I want to thank NZRL and
its players for partnering with us to do better for our young
people and families," says Parata.
The government is contributing funding of $250,000 to "It's More
Than Just a Game".
Fans are being urged to ensure the 2014 Four Nations is the
best-attended ever with a strong showing in the final between New
Zealand and Australia in Wellington on Saturday night.
This year's tournament, which will conclude with the final at
Westpac Stadium, can already lay claim to the highest aggregate
attendance for the group stages. The six pool matches involving New
Zealand, Australia, England and Samoa recorded an aggregate
attendance of 119,603, beating the previous record of 101,207 in
A crowd of more than 17,903 in Saturday's final would give the
2014 Four Nations the record for overall attendances (137,506),
which was also set in the 2010 tournament.
Crowds in the 2014 Four Nations have so far averaged 19,934. In
2010, the last time Australia and New Zealand hosted the
tournament, the average crowd through the group stages was 16,868
(19,644 including the final).
"There is no doubt the 2014 Four Nations has been an outstanding
success," says tournament director Paul Kind. "The performances of
Samoa have captured the imagination and we have seen some
incredible matches in the pool matches.
"The fact that all four nations could have feasibly still
participated in the final up until the last pool match highlighted
the competitiveness of the tournament.
"The fans have embraced the concept across Australia and New
Zealand right from the double header at Suncorp Stadium, and I'm
looking forward to seeing the support that the first Four Nations
final in New Zealand generates."
Other records that have been broken in the 2014 Four Nations
New Zealand will play Australia on Saturday night at
Wellington's Westpac Stadium at 8.45pm NZDT (6.45pm AEDT). Tickets
are available via ticketek.co.nz.
Performances from Kiwi recording stars David Dallas and Tahuna
Breaks will set the stage for the NZ Kiwis and Australia at
Saturday's Four Nations rugby league final at Wellington's Westpac
While the sporting archrivals are set for a rematch of last
year's World Cup final in the main feature, tournament organisers
have also secured a couple of musical heavy hitters to get the
crowd pumped up for the main event.
Dallas' hit single "Runnin" was the Kiwis' run-out song for this
year's Anzac Test, after an online poll of fans. The hip-hop artist
adds another credit to his already long CV, having played support
to international rap superstar Eminem in Auckland earlier this
"The coolest thing to come out of New Zealand for quite some
time," says Rip It Up magazine.
"Easily the most impressive Kiwi cultural export since Flight of
the Conchords," claims American URB Magazine.
Tahuna Breaks have been an institution on the New Zealand music
landscape for almost a decade now, mixing a fusion of musical
genres that encompasses funk, disco, soul, electronics and
Comprising anywhere between 6-10 members, they have been
regulars at all the big NZ and Australian music festivals - Big Day
Out, Homegrown, Highlife NYE, Rhythm & Vines, Splore.
These two acts are major drawcards in their own right, but their
presence at the Four Nations final - a 20-minute set each - offers
a unique entertainment experience for spectators.
"We're so excited to have David Dallas and Tahuna Breaks on the
same bill as the NZ Kiwis and world champion Australian Kangaroos,"
says New Zealand Rugby League commercial manager Sarah Lewis.
"Our vision for the Four Nations final was to offer a total
entertainment package that would appeal to hard-core league fans
and first-timers alike.
"We think this line-up has something for everyone - two great
acts and two great teams - and we expect tickets will fly out the
door pretty quickly this week."
Tahuna Breaks are scheduled to hit centre stage at Westpac
Stadium at 7.10pm on Saturday, with Dave Dallas expected at
Kick-off for the NZ Kiwis v Australia Kangaroos is timed for
8.45pm. Get your tickets here.