Canterbury Rugby League wishes to extend a massive thank-you to New World Ilam for their support of yesterday’s Manly Sea Eagles event at Aranui yesterday, as well as Rata Foundation, Blackwells Holden and Aranui Community Police. 

Photo Credit: Manly Sea Eagles

Via The Press – by Jonathan Guildford

Hundreds of aspiring young Canterbury rugby league players were beaming with excitement as they learnt from some of the best in the business – the Manly Sea Eagles.

More than 400 children were given an opportunity to run through a skills clinic and meet some of the NRL team’s elite players at Haeata Community Campus in Aranui on Tuesday evening.

Campus kaiako Te Iwingaro Wairau said the meet-and-greet session was a way to get the community together.

“It’s a community event, a community signing … it’s all about the kids and the community.”

Wairau said it was particularly special having Christchurch-born Manly star Lewis Brown in attendance as it showed the young players there was a direct pathway for them to follow in the sport.

Manly second-rower Frank Winterstein​ said it was an awesome experience being in Christchurch for the first time and being able to pass his rugby league knowledge and experience onto the children.

“It was a very humbling welcome, for many of us it is the first time experiencing Māori culture.

“Coming here and helping out with the kids and the community it’s pretty important for us as we are trying to develop that friendship and bond.

“We can pass on some knowledge and some experiences to them and hopefully we can kickstart their career.”

Winterstein said he was impressed to see so many young league players turn-up in a “rugby union town”.

Walco Events coordinated and organised the NRL fixture between the Manly Sea Eagles and New Zealand Warriors in the city on Saturday.

Company manager Justin Wallace said the event, which took about 15 months to organise, was about providing young leagues players a rare opportunity to meet NRL stars.

“It’s more than about the game on Saturday night, it’s about giving grassroots rugby league an opportunity to rub shoulders with NRL stars.”

Wallace said the Manly players would be touring another 11 schools on Wednesday. Non-playing Warriors players would be visiting 12 schools in Christchurch on Thursday.

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