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Players Challenged At National Secondary Schools Awards

Players Challenged At National Secondary Schools Awards Night

Thursday, September 6, 2012 - It was an inspirational, entertaining and moving NZRL National Secondary Schools Awards night which showcased all that is great about the game of rugby league. Hosted by Te Arahi Maipi, the event featured speakers including Paula Bennett, MP, Vic Tamati from It's Not OK!, Vodafone Warriors and Kiwis train-on squad members Shaun Johnson, Ben Henry and Elijah Taylor, and past Kiwis Ruben Wiki and Jerry Seuseu who wasted no time in laying down a challenge to the approx 600 young men in the room.

They applauded them for taking the first steps into their future, for taking part in the tournament itself and for making the most of all the off field opportunities they’d been offered. Ms Bennett then asked them to take it a step further and to get out into life itself, to not only work on their rugby league but at school and to be the very best they could be. She told them not to let anyone tell them they were too short, fat, rich or poor to do anything they wanted, and she finished by suggesting that as well as the next NRL or Kiwi player there could be the next Prime Minister in the room.

Her comments were echoed by the other speakers who asked the young men to think about their lives outside of football and to be as good off the field as they are on it. Ruben Wiki and Jerry Seuseu, along with Ben Henry and Elijah Taylor also supported her comments and warned of just how tough it can be to make it as a professional league player. Jerry gave the players of some sobering statistics, saying that in 2012 240 players trialled for the Warriors and only 3 – 4 were picked up, and only one in ten NYC players will go on to the NRL.

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They all asked the players to do their best in school to ensure they had a future no matter what happened with their league career and Kevin Bailey suggested that they could consider becoming match officials should a full time playing career not be in their future.

Papakura Local Board Deputy Chair Brent Catchpole received a framed Rugby League pledge as a thank you for the support they have given the tournament to date and for their continued support, with the tournament confirmed at Bruce Pulman Park for a further two years.

It wasn’t all serious though with the Vodafone Warriors providing some light relief in the form of a Q & A session lead by Johnson. Taylor and Henry spoke about their upbringings and the challenges they faced making the step up to NYC and NRL with Taylor saying that when he was young all he’d wanted to do was play league ‘on TV’ and that until he played NYC he’d never even been to Australia. Hurrell stole the show however talking about growing up in Tonga and the difficulties he faced then and now, especially the challenge of having to speak English. His love of his family shone through when he spoke and the tournament players really warmed to him.

Dan Parsons of Watties, who'd supplied the players with food and drink as part of their after match recovery along with sponsoring the Most Valuable Player award spoke briefly and congratulated the players on their wonderful performances, despite the sometimes challenging weather conditions.

The players were hugely supportive of all the prize winners, including those from schools other than their own. The winners of the Cultural Salute, James Cook High School performed their very impressive haka for the audience and when Billie Maea of Tokoroa High School won Manager of the Tournament his team gave him a rousing haka in acknowledgement.

With the finals matches to find the overall tournament winners in both the Developing and Premiership grades being held tomorrow Friday September 7, winners of two awards are yet to be confirmed (Most Valuable Player and Golden Boot) and will be made at Bruce Pulman Park tomorrow after the finals matches.

And the winners are:

It’s Not Okay Fairplay Award Developing Grade: Richard Timoti, Tamaki College

It’s Not Okay Fairplay Award Premier Grade: Michael Uluakiola, Tangaroa College

Samurai Match Official of the Tournament: Kena Waikai

Samurai Sideline Official Award: Peter McGregor

Best Cultural Salute: James Cook High School

Golden Boot 2012: To be announced on the final day of tournament

Trainer of the Tournament: Kameli Delana, Southern Cross Campus

Manager of the Tournament: Billie Maea, Tokoroa High School

Coach of the Tournament: Mike Wilson, St John’s College

National Secondary Schools Merit Team (1 – 17)

1. Josh Minhinnick, Auckland Grammar

2. Patricio Taafua, Taita College

3. Reubenn Rennie, Howick College

4. Ariel Tusiane, Otahuhu College

5. Semisi Vea, St Paul's College

6. Tuimoala Lolohea, Kelston Boys High School

7. Suni Sami, St Paul's College

8. Tavi Mariota, Otahuhu College

9. Kalolo Saitaua, Otahuhu College

10. Toafofoa Sipley, St Paul's College

11. Josh Aloiai, Kelston Boys High School

12. Michael Ki, Papatoetoe High School

13. Semisi Tyrell, Sir Edmond Hillary

14. Semisi Havili, St Paul's College

15. Sisa Manu, Tokoroa High School

16. Bunty Afoa, St Paul's College

17. Michael Uluakiola, Tangaroa College

NZRL Emerging Talent Award: Arthur Crichton, Papakura High School

Vodafone Warriors Best Forward Award: Michael Ki, Papatoetoe High School

Vodafone Warriors Best Back Award: Joshua Minhinnick, Auckland Grammar

Watties MVP award: To be announced on the final day of tournament

NZRL More Than Just a Game Award: Tokoroa High School


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