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Victoria to play visiting British league team

The Victoria University Rugby League Team will play the visiting Great Britain and Ireland student rugby league team on Wednesday September 6, at Rugby League Park. The game starts at 3.30pm and entry is by gold coin donation.

The Victoria team – Varsity Storm, is made of a selection of current university players and a number of invitation players including two secondary school students, Stacy Katu (Porirua College) and Irea Taia (Aotea College). Both players are members of the Wellington Under-18 team and play for premier side Te Aroha.

The Victoria team are the current student national nine-a-side champions and according to captain Henry Heke are using the game as a build-up for the NZ Student Rugby League trials. New Zealand are currently world student champions, having won the title in England last year.

Heke, who was a member of the cup-winning team, hopes to have at least three Victoria students included in the national student team. He has even drafted in a couple of a rugby players, Benji Strickland (Old Boys University) and Tolovae Auva’a (Western Suburbs), to play on the wing and believes both have a chance to make the national side.

A further incentive is the fact that several New Zealand student representatives are playing for the New Zealand Maori side in the Rugby League World Cup, so selection opportunities for the student team particularly among the forwards have increased.

The Great Britain and Ireland team is expected to be a strong one and includes a number of players who have previously played for the Great Britain or Wales student teams.

Heke, says his team have been training hard for the game and he hopes the squad will eventually form the base of a planned Victoria University premier league team. He believes it’s important for central Wellington to have a team in the competition as apart from the Miramar club all other teams are based in the league hot-beds of Porirua and the Hutt Valley.

"It’s hard for us to keep our players, hopefully a premier team will provide them with the incentive to play for us and give other players from central Wellington a chance to show their skills", Heke says.

The Great Britain side also play two tests against the New Zealand Students on September 13 at Ericsson Stadium, Auckland, and on September 17 as the curtain raiser for the Bartercard Cup final.

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