Toll Stadium – Conditions of Entry
As part of its process of development and accountability, members of the NZRL management team are travelling around the country presenting the Game Plan update at a series of meetings open to anyone with an interest in Rugby League.
The first for the year took place in Whangarei on Monday night and was presented by the NZRL’s General Manager High Performance Tony Kemp, who was joined by recently appointed Rugby League Northland Zone GM Alex Smits.
The ‘Game Plan’ is the NZRL’s five year Strategic Plan and each quarter the organisation measures itself against the plan and reports on what it has achieved, what is still a work in progress and what is yet to be done. Results are measured in a number of ways including outside statistics, its own internal reporting structure, and feedback from stakeholders. Nine core elements, drawn as jigsaw puzzle pieces, show progress by colour – red for very poor, orange for making progress and green for have met stated goals and continuing to maintain them.
Alex Smits said of the Northland meeting, “The presentation was very well received and it was great to see representatives of our sponsors NorthTec and the local RST joining league supporters and local media in the audience. It was also a real positive to see some of the old faces from the area coming along to hear about what’s happening now. “
Ian Swindells of NorthTec said he’d been very impressed with Tony’s presentation, which he’d found extremely informative and well worth his time. He said, “Jim and Tony and the NZRL management team have obviously done an excellent job. It’s a wonderful story for any organisation which is trying to turn things around. I am now thinking about ways in which our organisation can benefit from this story and whether we can maybe involve Jim or Tony in some sort of mentoring.
“As the manager of a tertiary institution, one which has been partnered with Rugby League in Northland for a while, it’s really helpful to get some context of what’s been happening at NZRL and the aspirations for the game in the regions. I was very impressed and really glad I’d come along.”
Jason Hannah, a Community Sports Advisor with Sport Northland, agreed with Ian’s comments saying,”It was great to see Rugby League in such a positive light after the publicity it has received in the past. It’s obviously so much more professional than in past years and having a presenter people can identify with, like Tony Kemp, a familiar face, was great as people know him with his Kiwis experience and that made a difference.”
Jason says the high points for him were seeing how Rugby League relates to other sports, its progress and how the changes are obviously improving the sport. He concludes “The other thing I found really helpful was the jigsaw puzzle, I’m a very visual person and to see the nine puzzle pieces and the colour coding made it really obvious ‘this is where we’re going and this is what we’re trying to achieve’.”
Game Plan update meetings are being held around the country over the next few weeks and details of these will be posted on the NZRL website as they come to hand.
Adam Blair XIII v NZ Warriors
This Saturday will see the best Secondary School players from all over Northland take on the best 18s side in the country, the NZ Warriors 18s.
The Adam Blair Trophy has this year been the most successful with 15 High Schools participating in a 13 team strong competition. A week before we approach the Semi-Finals, our best players, who make up the Adam Blair XIII, will face the might of New Zealand’s best at Kamo High School at 1pm.
Rugby League Northland are privileged to have a strong relationship with the Warriors as well as several other NRL clubs and are really working on developing pathways for junior elite players. Development Manager Aaron Thomas is delighted with the interest the NRL are taking specifically in the North.
“We have worked hard in 2015 to build our junior program and it’s starting to pay dividends. We had several players last year take up junior contracts with NRL clubs and we have several more stimulating interest. It’s a massive lift for what we are trying to do here. We are in most primary schools and high schools in the north lifting our profile and promoting our code. We had over 3000 students participate in Rugby League last year.”
“It’s really exciting this year, as we are really committed to Professional Development. This is not only for our elite players, but also for our coaches and referees. This is integral for our on-going success. The Warriors, who are coached by Duane Mann, ex Kiwi and Warrior player, are very lucky to have someone of his calibre taking an interest in our young talent.”
Rugby League Northland is hoping for a good crowd on Saturday, which will also see a North v South High School Girls 9s game. The game will be televised and also available through YouTube by Channel North who have done an outstanding job covering the Adam Blair XIII games.
Northern Swords Adam Blair XIII
- Diani Timms 2. Tahu Tawhiwhirangi 3. Ngapuhi Simeon 4. Hoani Rogers-Brown 5.Tanie-lee Shelford 6. Jayden Leaupepe 7. Taite Kopa 8. John Henare-Clarke 9. James Witehira (Captain) 10. Wiremu Greig 11. Tamati Leach 12. Thomas Anderson 13. Osalasi Tau-Kata 14. Ilai Arona 15. Ariki Hughes 16. Phoenix Henare-Clarke 17. Manasseh Turner 18. Rico Cook 19. Hakaraia Corkery 20. Nico Te Whata 21. Lathan Hutchinson-Walters 22. Ngatai Manukau Togiavalu 23. Donald McKenna 24. Manaia Te Pirihi
Clash of the Titans – Hikurangi Stags v Takahiwai WarriorsClash of the Titans – Hikurangi Stags v Takahiwai Warriors
It’s a clash of the Titans in the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership Grand Final this Sunday at Toll Stadium, as the Hikurangi Stags face the Takahiwai Warriors. The Stags have been the form team of the 2015 Scott Electrical Premiership, finishing top of the table to win the Minor Premiership 6 points clear of second place Takahiwai Warriors. Both teams had a week off before their Major Semi-Final wins on Saturday.
The Grand Final sets up a replay of the 2013 RLN Premiership that saw a thrilling 36 – 26 win by the Stags. The Stags have dominated Rugby League in Northland having won 5 out of the last 8 Titles. Their 2014 loss, to the Otangarei Knights, preventing them from winning four in a row. The Stags and the Warriors have met twice already this year with the Stags winning both encounters, their first in round 2 winning 40 – 16, the second in round 10 narrowly winning 22 – 20.
The first to confirm their place in the final were the Warriors as they defeated the Moerewa Tigers in a beautiful game of footy that went right down to the wire. Locked at 24 all for the final 5 minutes of the game, with 5 seconds left on the clock and final tackle it looked certain to go to a golden point decider, and then up stepped the man of the moment Kyle Hool, the Tigers held back as it looked as if Hool was going to kick, however he had everyone fooled as he stepped and weaved from the forty metre line to go untouched under the posts for the Warriors to snatch the victory 30 – 24.
The match was evenly balanced and of extremely high quality, there would have been as few as 6 scrums throughout the game displaying the high skill level of both teams. It was the Tigers who showed the better form going into half time with 16 – 6 lead. However come the hour, come the man, it was Kyle Hool’s second half and he scored two sublime individual tries and set up another beauty! He was backed up by great performances from outside backs, Captain Hori Tuhoro and Ross McFarlane who were fearless in their go forward with Hools’ brother Jordan, providing grunt in the middle of the park.
The Tigers were shattered and heartbroken at the end of the match, Tigers Coach, David Bristow, should be proud of the way his team performed in the match as well as the improvement they showed throughout the 2015 season. For the Tigers, Captain Peter Prime, was inspirational around dummy half, William Wiki provided awesome go forward, while Te Tuhi Tipene and Anauru Thompson were hard to bring down out wide.
If the first Major Semi-Final was a beautiful game of footy the second game between the Hikurangi Stags and the Hokianga Pioneers was the opposite. It was a brutish arm wrestle that never really reached second gear. The first half showed some snap shots of quality with the Pioneers playing a more controlled game going out to an early 16 – 0 lead. The Stags looked like possums in headlights for the first 20 minutes. Any team with Player/Coach Joe Rau at the helm should not be under-estimated as the Stags slowly ground their way back into the game with two late tries to go into half time trailing the Pioneers 16 – 12.
The second half was a stop/start affair as both teams got caught up in a negative style of football as both teams baited each other. Hikurangi coped better with the pressure as they camped for an extended length of time in the Pioneers 20 metre zone. After two disallowed tries and a period of a good 15 minutes, the Stags finally broke the Pioneers scrambling defence as Joe Rau stole a try. This was quickly followed up by another Stags try to take a 24 – 16 lead. The Pioneers hit back 24 – 20 setting up an exciting finish, but ill discipline saw a Pioneer player sent to the bin which gave the Stags the momentum to score another try and close out the match 28 – 20.
For the Stags Joe Rau again led his troops well, Caleb Aekins was strong at stand-off creating opportunities for outside backs, Joachim and Zabdiel Edmonds and Jordan Rau who all dotted over to score.
The Pioneers coach Jason Smith should be confident going into next season if can keep the majority of his squad together, the Pioneers showed great form going into the playoffs, they are a tough physical pack led by Eli George and Shannon Haare with speed and power out wide in the name of Blueray Joyce and Jerome Stowers. With Captain Richard Koroi helping to piece it all together they look solid.