Rugby Leagues mantra is “more than just a game” and over the last 12 months Northland youth have been discovering the opportunities that Rugby League brings. Last week, 6 Northlanders* attended the NRZL 16s and 18s National trials in Rotorua. All six had been selected from the successful 2013 17’s Northern Swords team that finished 3rd in the NZRL National Competition.
The trials were not just about the game, players were assessed through a four day camp that included presentations and technical coaching from legends like, two time NRL Premiership winning coach – Des Hasler, Kiwi World Cup Winning Captain – Nathan Cayless, as well as former internationals – Jerry Seuseu, Jerome Ropati and Duane Mann – from the NZ Warriors, and NRL Welfare Officer – Nigel Vagana.
The big focus was for ‘aspiring athletes’ to think about what other paths are available to them alongside their football careers.
“To me, this is the most important part of the three days here, because it is about more than just football” said NZRL football manager Tony Iro. “If you are going to be the best of the best in this country at league, you have to be the best of the best at everything. You are excellent league players, why shouldn’t you be excellent students too?”
The boys did Northland proud, Tumoana Halkyard impressed with a phenomenal 20.4 on the YoYo Beep Test, following it up with a solid trial. Steel Kake showed that he knows the way to the try line scoring two tries in the 16s trials, while in the 18s Daniel Fulop and Haimona Tierney both got mentions from Camp Boss – Tony Iro.
While on a different pathway, 18 year old James Dean Fisher-Harris, made his U20’s debut for the Penrith Panthers v Wests Tigers on July 6th. James joins Corey Harawira-Naera. Both Corey and James were never expected to play a part in the 20’s in the table topping Panthers team, however Corey has impressed all with his professionalism and as a result has played a major role in every 20’s game this year and has secured a starting place as the Panther’s 20’s custodian.
One organisation that is taking notice of the opportunities that Rugby League provide is Mitre10 Mega – Whangarei. “We are a large employer in Whangarei and are proud of the service we provide in the DIY market, we are proud of our community and as such we want to get involved in community projects that add value.” said General Manager, Darren Hansen.
As such, Mitre10 Mega Whangarei are developing a partnership around their youth development program and are sponsoring the Swords 17s team at the NZRL National 17s Zone Tournament.
“It is a great fit for us, combining our ability to help young adults in our community and aligning our brand with Rugby League Northland’s Leadership Through League program. It’s fantastic to support these young men in what is hopefully, for most of them, just the start of their successful league careers,” said Darren.
One key aspect where Mitre10 Mega Whangarei can add value is by being able to provide opportunities for part-time work for young league players. All aspiring athletes need to have a backup plan, part of that plan is to develop a work ethic as well as gaining an education. Working with Mitre10 Mega Whangarei can provide both of these as it is possible to gain NCEA Credits in retail while working.
“It’s about developing a balance in a young person’s life, sometimes it’s difficult for young sports people to get part time work, but Mitre10 Mega Whangarei understand the value sport plays in the community and as such roster staff with sports a consideration. We are developing good opportunities for youth and it’s great to be able to work alongside an iconic Kiwi company like Mitre10 Mega” Alex Smits, GM of RLN said.
* The six players who attended the NZRL 16s and 18s Trials were: U16s – Steel Kake. U18s – Tumoana Halkyard, Piri Croft, Daniel Fulop, Haimona Tierney and Caleb Aekins.
Mitre 10 Penpic
Mitre10 has been a part of New Zealand’s DIY culture since 1974. Wholly New Zealand owned and operated with around 100 stores from Invercargill to Kaitaia, Mitre10 is an amazing Kiwi success story. Mitre10 is more than twice the size of its nearest competitor and continues to grow through both share of market and number of stores. In 2004 Mitre10 New Zealand Limited opened its first Mitre10 MEGA store in Hastings and like almost all the MEGA stores it is a local, family owned business.
The Mitre10 MEGA store offers its customers an increased product range and extra services like cafes and play areas for children as well as extensive garden centres and drive through areas for both the trade and retail customers.
Mitre10 is involved in many uniquely New Zealand projects, such as the Takahe Rescue project, Plunket, the Neurological Foundation and many individual projects supported by local stores to help their local communities.