Hard-running three-quarter Mike Dorreen earned a spot on New Zealand’s tour of Papua New Guinea in 1994 and a contract as a foundation Auckland Warrior after several seasons starring for the Canterbury provincial team.
A product of Addington – scoring a try in the Magpies’ 1989 CRL Grand Final triumph and playing in the club’s loss in the following year’s decider – Dorreen scored 30 tries in 43 appearances for Canterbury from 1988-93 during its golden run of the early-1990s under Frank Endacott, culminating in the famous 36-12 thrashing of Auckland at Addington Show Grounds in ’93.
A Kiwi triallist as far back as 1988, he turned out for the Hawkes Bay Unicorns in the inaugural Lion Red Cup competition in 1994, earning a spot in the Endacott-coached New Zealand Residents side and scoring four tries in as many games during the team’s unbeaten tour of Australia.
Dorreen’s strong form subsequently saw him replace the injured Kevin Iro in New Zealand’s squad to tour Papua New Guinea (with Endacott again at the helm). He featured in two matches on tour, debuting off the bench in a 40-4 win over Port Moresby Vipers and playing on the wing in a 34-2 defeat of Northern Zone in Lae, but could not force his way into the Test line-up.
The 28-year-old was part of the Warriors’ maiden 1995 campaign but was restricted mostly to reserve grade with captain Dean Bell and Tea Ropati occupying the centre spots. Dorreen made his first-grade debut off the bench in a heavy defeat to Newcastle, before starting in the place of the injured Bell a week later and scoring a try in an away upset of Cronulla. He crossed again in a big win over Gold Coast five weeks later and made the last of his four appearances in the top flight off the bench against a rampant Brisbane in the final round.
The veteran joined the Sydney Tigers in 1996, making his initial top-grade appearances at fullback as a stand-in for NSW Origin absentee Tim Brasher; he then reverted to the three-quarter line, making eight of his 10 appearances at centre for the also-ran Tigers. The highlight of his stint at the club was undoubtedly playing a key role in a 34-22 upset of the Warriors at Christchurch’s Lancaster Park.
Dorreen linked with Super League’s Hunter Mariners the following season but could only manage four interchange appearances in first grade – the likes of Iro, Brad Godden, Nick Zisti, Keith Beauchamp and John Carlaw were preferred in the backline.
He played for Orange in the central west of NSW in 1998 before returning to Christchurch for a memorable career conclusion, celebrating in Halswell’s 1999-2000 Grand Final victories and scoring five tries in as many game in Canterbury’s 1999 National Provincial Cup campaign.
Dorreen later coached Halswell and the Canterbury Under-18s. In 2012, he was installed as the South Island Scorpions’ coach, and was at the helm of the Canterbury Bulls (who replaced the Scorpions in the NZRL National Competition) in 2013.
NEW ZEALAND (1994)
2 tour matches – 0 points
-1994 Kiwis tour of Papua New Guinea