Bulls Launch 2016 Premiership Campaign
Pride. Unity. Integrity. Grit.
These are core values that will drive Canterbury Bulls’ 2016 season, as revealed by new coach Andrew Auimatagi at the team’s season launch on Wednesday night.
The Bulls’ players and management, Canterbury Rugby League Board members, CRL staff, sponsors and supporters gathered at Hornby Working Men’s Club to officially kick off the representative side’s campaign in the revamped NZRL National Premiership.
After a welcome from CRL Board Vice Chairman Craig Reynolds, the crowd was treated to a very special performance by the Marshland School Kapa Haka group.
The youngsters sang several beautiful waiatas, and capped off the performance with a stirring haka that would have had Paul Gallen shaking in his boots.
Auimatagi – fresh off guiding his Linwood Keas side to grand final glory on Sunday – then addressed the audience, outlining his expectations for the campaign ahead and talking about his experiences with the Bulls, which date back to his 2002 debut for the Bulls Colts side as an 18-year-old.
“It was great to assemble our 25 last week. We’ve been working hard in the gym, and on the training field,” Auimatagi said.
“The job’s not over though, it’s just beginning.
“I’m very optimistic and confident in your ability, and I’m sure you guys will do the jersey proud.
“Last week we talked about words such as pride, such as unity, integrity and grit.
“These are going to be the values we build our campaign upon. Our players came together to talk about what it means to be a Canterbury Bulls player, and they’re the core values the guys came up with, and they’re the ones they’ll live throughout this campaign.”
Auimatagi then presented each member of the Bulls squad to the crowd, before the ‘Meet the Bulls’ team videowas given its first airing, showcasing the players’ light-hearted side.
Hornby Panthers stalwart James Baxendale, recently named as the Bulls’ new captain, paid tribute to Auimatagi during his speech, and reiterated his coach’s enthusiasm for the season ahead.
“(Andrew is) someone we all respect greatly, he’s a great coach and he’s got high ambitions to go far with his coaching career,” Baxendale said.
“It’s the first time as captain of the team for me, and I’m very honoured and privileged. I just want to wish all you boys all the best for the season, and let’s rip in eh?”
Reynolds emphasised the vital role played by the Canterbury Bulls’ and Canterbury Rugby League’s many valued sponsors, and expressed CRL’s gratitude for their ongoing support. Ray Whittaker from Rockcote, the Bulls’ principal sponsor, also spoke to the crowd.
“From Rockcote’s point of view, we are proud to be associated and see Canterbury Rugby League go so far,” Whittaker said.
“Every year it’s raised the bar, and with the players, the coach, the management and everyone involved I can see it stepping up again.
“I know it’s a short campaign. It’s three games, but I reckon it’s four – we’re going for a final, boys.”
The Canterbury Bulls’ 2016 NZRL National Premiership schedule gets underway on Sunday at 4pm against the Counties Manukau Stingrays at Mt Smart Stadium in a repeat of last year’s final.
The remaining round-robin games will be at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on the following two Sundays, against Wellington Orcas (4pm, September 18) and Akarana Falcons (4pm, September 25).
The top two qualifiers will square off in the Premiership final on Saturday, October 1 at Mt Smart Stadium.
WILL EVANS – CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE