Red and Black Report: Cantabs in Australia
Each week we’ll be keeping you up to date with how our Canterbury Rugby League products are performing in Australia’s elite and lower-grade competitions.
Ahead of Round 1 of the National Rugby League, InTrust Super Premiership (NSW Cup) and InTrust Super Cup (Qld Cup) competitions this weekend, here’s a rundown of where the ex-Canterbury juniors are playing in 2017, and who will be lining up for their club’s season-opening clashes.
Hornby Panthers product Fa’amanu Brown is set to play his 16th first-grade game when he turns out for defending premiers Cronulla in Thursday night’s NRL season opener against Brisbane. The versatile 22-year-old, who debuted for the Sharks in 2014, has been named to come off the bench, and should work in tandem with debutant hooker Jayden Brailey.
Lining up for his fourth NRL club in as many seasons, hardworking ex-Halswell Hornet Matt McIlwrick has been named to start at hooker in Wests Tigers’ Friday-night grudge match against South Sydney. The 25-year-old veteran of 29 NRL games, who can also play back-row, will line up against NSW Origin No.9 – and former Tigers legend – Robbie Farah. McIlwrick’s rivals for the dummy-half duties, Matt Ballin and Jacob Liddle, were both reportedly ruled out injured, though Ballin has been named to come off the bench in the InTrust Super Premiership.
The most accomplished of the Australia-based Cantabrians, Manly utility Lewis Brown will don the familiar No.14 jumper as cover for hooker, back-row and centre. The former Warriors and Penrith star, who cut his teeth with Riccarton Knights, has played 174 first-grade games – including all 24 of the Sea Eagles’ games last year in his first season at the club – and 15 Tests for New Zealand.
Burnham Chevaliers junior Jazz Tevaga has not been named in the Warriors’ NRL or InTrust Super Premiership side, while Christchurch-born Eddy Pettybourne was not named by the Gold Coast Titans or their Intrust Super Cup affiliates.
INTRUST SUPER PREMIERSHIP
The big news out of the InTrust Super Premiership for Canterbury Rugby League fans is 2015-16 Rockcote Canterbury Bulls halfback Tevin Arona has been named at hooker for the Warriors’ Round 1 assignment against Newcastle on Sunday, a match that will be televised on Sky Sports.
Christchurch-born livewire Pita Godinet, who started his rugby league journey at Sydenham, has been named as co-captain of Manly’s feeder club Blacktown Workers. The former Warriors and Wakefield Trinity utility is best known as a hooker/half, but shows his versatility by marshalling a strong Workers backline from fullback against Newtown on Sunday. The 29-year-old made two NRL appearances for the Sea Eagles last weekend, adding to 18 appearance in the top flight for the Warriors (2011-13) and 38 games for Wakefield (2014-15).
A Canterbury resident as a youngster, former Burnham Chevaliers junior Jayden Nikorima will line up at five-eighth for a talented Wyong Roos line-up as the Junior Kangaroos rep looks to add to his tally of seven NRL appearances for the Sydney Roosters.
INTRUST SUPER CUP
After more than 100 games for Super League clubs Catalans, Hull FC and Widnes – punctuated by a two-season rugby union stint – former Sydney Roosters centre/back-rower Setaimata Sa returns to Australia as captain of the Mackay Cutters. The three-Test Kiwi, still only 29 years old, started out with Shirley before joining Papanui Tigers. He is joined in the Cutters’ backline by another former Papanui star, winger/fullback Nathan Saumalu, who represented the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls and NZ Residents in 2016. The Cutters take on Northern Pride on Saturday.
The Rockhampton-based Central Queensland Capras also have a pair of Canterbury products and Halswell Hornets juniors in Ken Tofilau and Phil Nati. After a couple of seasons plugging away for the Newcastle Knights’ NYC and NSW Cup sides, Tofilau has made the move north and will start on the wing against a strong PNG Hunters side this weekend. The Rockcote Canterbury Bulls’ Most Outstanding Player award winner in 2016 and a NZ Residents rep, ex-Celebration Lions back-rower Nati was a late addition to the bench and will wear the No.15 jumper against the Hunters.
Stay tuned for our feature on Phil later this week.
Ex-Northern Bulldogs hooker Sheldon Pitama joined the Redcliffe Dolphins on the back of strong campaign captaining the Warriors’ Under-20s team in 2016. Pitama debuts in the Dolphins’ No.9 jumper against Burleigh Bears on Sunday. Former Hornby prop Rulon Nutira is also contracted to Redcliffe, but has not been named this weekend.
Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Test utility Kodi Nikorima has been named at five-eighth for Norths Devils, though he was also listed in the Broncos’ extended 21-man squad for the clash with Cronulla.