Bumper Weekend of Rep Action at Wainoni Park
It’s been a bumper month for representative rugby league in New Zealand, with the National Premiership and Championship competitions wrapping up on Saturday, and the Youth Nationals 15s and 17s tournaments taking place in Rotorua this week.
The South Island Scorpions 15s finished their outstanding campaign in fifth, while the Scorpions 17s contest the final against Akarana Falcons on Friday afternoon – but the focus shifts back to Christchurch on Saturday and Sunday.
The second annual South Island 19s tournament will be played at Wainoni Park in Aranui this weekend, with representative teams from Canterbury, Otago, Southland, West Coast and Tasman taking park.
Fixtures start at 9am both days.
“The tournament has been put in place to provide opportunities for players who were previously involved with the 15s and 17s, and are in the gap between 17s and premier league competitions,” Southern Zone general manager Steve Martin says.
“It’s an opportunity to grow the base of clubs looking ahead, not just for Canterbury, but for the districts throughout the South Island so that they can encourage young players to continue to be involved with the game and feed into the clubs.”
That’s just the beginning of the rep action, however.
In conjunction with the 19s tournament, Canterbury Second Schools will face off against some of the best young talent Australia has to offer in the form of the NSW Combined Secondary Schools touring side.
That match is set down for 1.30pm on Sunday at Wainoni Park, and will be followed by the South Island Scorpions Premiers team’s showdown with Canterbury Maori, which has become an annual clash.
The Scorpions squad was selected from the four districts that competed in the recent South Island regional playoffs – Southland, Otago, West Coast and Tasman.
“Selectors will be present from New Zealand Rugby League all weekend, keeping an eye on not only the talent at the 19s tournament, but also the players in the Schoolboys and Scorpions-Canterbury Maori game,” Martin adds.
In an added bonus for the 19s players, Warriors utility Jazz Tevaga has indicated he will attend the tournament and will speak to the youngsters at the tournament dinner on Saturday night.
Tevaga started his junior league career with Burnham Chevaliers and was one of the NRL’s most impressive rookies of 2016, making 11 first-grade appearances at hooker and off the bench for the Warriors.
The players at the tournament dinner will also get an invaluable talk from a speaker from Health and Social Services provider He Waka Tapu, focusing on mental wellness and areas such as depression and suicide, as part of New Zealand Rugby League’s ‘More Than Just A Game’ philosophy.
WILL EVANS – CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE