FLASHBACK FRIDAY: ENDACOTT STARS AS NZ XIII SHOCK GREAT BRITAIN TOURISTS
Rockcote Canterbury Bulls stars Tevin Arona, Brad Campbell, Jope Tagicakibau, Ben Ilalio, Alex Todd and Michael Butson will line up for NZ Residents against the England Community Lions in Auckland on Friday night.
Arona has been named co-captain of the Residents, who are coached by Bulls mentor Andrew Auimatagi.
Flashback Friday revisits a famous victory by a home-based New Zealand combination over the full Great Britain international side in 1996, which contained a healthy Canterbury influence.
The ’96 Lions had already been given a major fright in their first match in New Zealand when they were held to a 22-all draw at Carlaw Park by the Lion Red Cup XIII. The tourists headed to Lower Hutt for a clash with a New Zealand XIII five days later.
The Gary Kemble-coached New Zealand XIII boasted 11 members of the Auckland Warriors reserve grade squad that had reached the 1996 grand final – including long-serving Canterbury provincial stars Aaron Whittaker and Shane Endacott.
Foundation Warrior, and West Coast, Canterbury and Kiwis rep Whetu Taewa, who joined the North Queensland Cowboys in 1996, was also in the New Zealand XIII, alongside Canterbury Cardinals forward Darryn Avery – the only South Island-based player in the squad.
Kiwis coach Frank Endacott was a particularly interested spectator, sitting in the Fraser Park stands to pick out a 17th man for his New Zealand Test squad – a call-up that eventually went the way of Logan Swann, who was yet to make his first-grade debut with the Warriors.
The versatile Shane Endacott must have gone close to earning his Test stripes under father Frank, however, after a superb two-try performance as the New Zealand XIII shocked Great Britain 30-22.
Iva Ropati opened the scoring for the New Zealand XIII and they kept the Lions at arm’s length thereafter, leading 14-6 after 27 minutes and 24-16 with 10 minutes to go. The tourists closed the gap to two points with time ticking down before Endacott sealed the result by cutting through for a 20-metre solo try.
Taewa crossed for one of the New Zealand XIII’s six tries, while captain Whittaker slotted a goal.
Great Britain suffered a 3-0 Test series cleansweep at the hands ‘Happy Frank’s’ Kiwis, who had West Coast and Canterbury great Quentin Pongia in the front-row.
Meanwhile, the Lions’ midweek pain continued when they took on New Zealand Māori in Whangarei. The Māori side, which featured Taewa and Christchurch City Shiners’ Ricky Henry in the centres, rolled the Poms 40-28.
The NZ Residents v England Community Lions match at Auckland’s Trusts Arena is being screened on Sky Sport Channel 54 from 6pm, Friday, November 1.