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Secondary Schools - Newcomers grab NRL attention

September 3, 2014

NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament - Newcomers grab NRL attention

Already respected as a rugby union powerhouse, Wesley College have wasted no time establishing their reputation at the 13-a-side code.

Unbeaten through the first three days of NZRL National Secondary Schools competition at Papakura, the South Auckland debutants enter the development grade semi-finals as the team to beat, averaging a tournament-high 43 points a game.

The same flair that has made Wesley a force in union is also apparent in league, although their approach has proved unorthodox at times.

After receiving the ball from kick-off of their opening game against Taita College, they immediately chipped back over the advancing defence - a ridiculous tactic in league and difficult for opponents to prepare for.

"A lot of our boys are traditionally league boys, so we always knew there was some potential to 'double dip'," explains coach Ben Hancock. "We always intended playing this tournament, but didn't want to turn up with anything less than a full-strength team.”

Wesley have gone to some lengths to organise their league campaign around First XV commitments and only picked their squad a few days before the national event. Their performance has shown considerable raw potential that has not escaped some of sport's most discerning critics.

Because most of these athletes have not appeared on the league radar before, NRL scouts have found fresh fodder in their talent-spotting feeding frenzy this week.

"My phone has been ringing a bit, but they have been really good about it and followed all the protocols in place around the games," admits Hancock.

"It has been an outstanding outcome from this tournament that four or five of our boys have been shoulder-tapped for conversations. Even if it amounts to nothing, it's the first step for them.”

Wesley will face a tougher test in Thursday's semis, when they take on former premiership champions Aranui High (1997, 2000), who are also unbeaten this week.

Across the draw, Papatoetoe High - another with unblemished record - come up against Northcote College for a spot in Friday's final.

NZRL National Secondary Schools Guide (September 4)

Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura
Thursday, September 4
Field 3 Otahuhu College v Tokoroa HS (5th-8th)
Field 1 Kelston BHS v Aorere College (semi-final)
Field 4 Papakura HS v Mt Albert Grammar (9th-12th)
Field 3 Rotorua BHS v Southern Cross Campus (5th-8th)
Field 1 Manurewa HS v St Paul's College (semi-final)
Field 4 Western Springs Coll v Westlake BHS (9th-12th)

Field 5 Whangarei BHS v Mt Roskill Grammar (17th-20th)
Field 6 Pakuranga College v Taita College (21st-24th)
Field 2 Aranui HS v Wesley College (semi-final)
Field 5 Greymouth HS v Francis Douglas Coll (17th-20th)
Field 6 Rosehill Coll v One Tree Hill Coll (21st-24th)
Field 2 Northcote College v Papatoetoe HS (semi-final)

3.30pm Prizegiving, Mt Smart Stadium
NZ Rugby League would like to acknowledge and thank all our official partners and sponsors that have made this tournament possible, including The Skills Organisation, Competenz, “Got a Trade? Got it Made!”, Vodafone Warriors, It’s Not OK!, Papakura Local Board, Auckland Council, Watties, EBOS, Counties Manukau Sport, NZSSSC and Papakura High School.


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