Northern Swords Jason Smith

Jason Smith

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Jason has just returned to the fold following an operation on his knees which kept him out of the competition for the latter part of the 2013 season. Jason’s experience as an official in the Northland comp over a number of years, has been invaluable to the Referees Association. Jason officianted as a touchy in the RLN Semi’s at Toll Stadium.

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Fun Family Day of Entertainment in Kaikohe – Swords v Counties ManukauFun Family Day of Entertainment in Kaikohe – Swords v Counties Manukau

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The Northern Swords are team building for the future, with 15 players under the age of 22 in their squad they are looking to build the foundations of a successful team on and off the field.  With such a young team, Rugby League Northland are calling out to all Rugby League fans to come along and support the Swords Young Guns as they take on the Counties Manukau Stingrays this Saturday in Kaikohe.

As such Rugby League Northland is taking the Swords on the road to Kaikohe and have organised for a Junior North meets Junior South Mini/Mod Tournament as a curtain raiser to the main event.    Both events will take place on Central Rugby Ground to help create a festival atmosphere and it is FREE to attend.  Also adding the festive atmosphere will see the Junior Delegates running fundraising stalls to raise funds for the Northern Swords 15s and 17s to go to the NZRL Nationals.  So if you are coming along to the games bring along a few dollars to buy a feed and give a little donation.

“In the past the Swords have played to empty stadiums, for footy players there is nothing like playing in front of your Whanau and other supporters. By bringing the kids in, it will help bring in families as well and create a positive vibe.  The boys have a big challenge against one of the competition favourites, Counties Manukau Stingrays, but I’m sure with the League public’s support it will give them confidence” RLN General Manager Alex Smits said.

The Stingrays suffered a rare loss in round one against a resurgent Wai-Coa-Bays Stallions, while the Swords 38 – 4 loss to the Mid Central Vipers showed a lot of positive signs.  With an extra game under their belt, the Swords Young Guns and home ground advantage, the Swords will be looking to surprise the Stingrays.  For Eli George, Tamati Leach and Stevie Ray Haenga-Albert there will be extra motivation of playing at home in Kaikohe, all three had standout debuts last week.

Coach Jon Renes has the ability of adding Moerewa’s Anaru Thompson and Takahiwai’s experienced Ross McFarlane as wells as Muriwhenua’s Sonny Rupapera into this week’s mix. All three were unavailable last week due to work commitments.  However the final team will remain under wraps until after Thursday’s training.

Jon Renes named as Senior Swords Coach for 2015Jon Renes named as Senior Swords Coach for 2015

Jon Renes has been named as the Northern Swords Premier Coach for the 2015 NZRL National Premiership Competition.  Jon has proven experience in high performance sports from a preparation component and sees the step as a natural progression.

“I’ve been involved with Rugby League at a high performance level as a trainer for the last 15 years.  My speciality is around preparing athletes for competition, this is the key to start making a change and that is to start building the Swords from ground up.  My main focus is around building a culture and desire to play for the jersey.  If we think we can bring a team together and then coach them in a short period of time this is unrealistic it’s got to be about the build up and the preparation.  That is my first priority. There is a lot of pride in Northland, we have 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation representative players, if we can get Mana back into the jersey that will be a step in the right direction.

Jon goes on to comment that one of the key focuses is building the Brotherhood within Northland, with Clubs being the key to this.  By doing so I hope to build strong relationships with the players – coaches and club management.  A successful Northland team will be based around everyone in Northland working together to build pride in the jersey.

He says that he is not concerned about results in the first year – firstly it’s about process, building a culture of performance and process which ultimately comes down to individual and collective responsibility.  As we build on this we want to see the Northland Premier jersey be a platform to launch future careers.  This has already happened from the Swords with Corey Harawira-Naera being signed to play for the Panthers 20s in 2013, other Junior Sword players are making a career from Rugby League with James Fisher-Harris and Steel Kake also signing with the Panthers – both were signed after playing for the Swords 17s.

Alex Smits RLN General Manager said,” We are privileged to have Jon’s experience engaged with our organisation.  He has been with the Swords for the last four years and understands athletic development as well as the culture of Northland.  Moving forward we are wanting to develop our performance pathway, we have a lot of talented athletes in Northland and we don’t want them to feel that if they haven’t made it by the time they are 18 that it’s too late.   We are starting to now see many of recent 17s playing in the RLN Scott Electrical Premiership which is having a positive effect on the quality of the competition.”

RLN has also for the first time, formed a Swords Advisory Panel that will help mould the future of the Swords representative program.  The panel recently formed with Brad Flower and Juanita Hool from the RLN Board also has Shane Hool from Takahiwai and Sean Tito from Horahora, as well as Jon Renes and  Alex Smits.  “We’re currently focusing on the Senior Swords, but as we progress we hope the panel will grow with other representatives, as well as developing a strategy around Junior and Senior integration.” Smits said.

Jon’s appointment is the first step – over the next couple of weeks RLN we will be announcing who will complete the Swords Coaching team with an Assistant Coach, Trainer and Manager soon to be appointed.

The Swords Campaign 2015 kicks off on May 30th with a slightly different approach, with Coach Jon Renes calling for a Women in League meeting for his players and Whanau.  He is calling a muster for his initial selection to attend a hui and a lunch with partners and family at Lindvart Park to coincide with the Swords 15s and 17s Trials.  “If we want to ensure the players get buy in, we need the wives and partners and their whanau to feel part of the process.” Renes said.

Jon Renes Previous experience includes:

  • Assistance trainer to Warriors in 2000
  • Trainer for Junior Kiwis 2002-3
  • Assist Trainer Residents 2012
  • Assist trainer NZRL 18s 2013
  • Trainer NZRL 16s 2015
  • Strength and conditioning coach NZ Academy of Sport – Northland region
  • Swords Trainer 2011 – 2014