Turanga back as new era kicks off

Rugby league senior competition begins tomorrow

Rugby league senior competition begins tomorrow

One to watch: Paikea Whalers are out to retain their title when the Gisborne Tairawhiti Rugby League competition begins tomorrow and among their danger players will be Gisborne Boys’ High School student Moses Christie, pictured in action against Ngatapa Stags last year. Picture by Paul Rickard

The Gisborne Tairawhiti Rugby League senior competition begins tomorrow at Awapuni Sports Stadium, signalling the start of a new era of the sport in the district.

Six teams will battle for the Dave Ahu Memorial Trophy — an honour reigning champions Paikea Whalers won’t be giving up easily.

GTRL chairwoman Wanita Tuwairua-Brown says that after a false start, it is all-go.

“The season was meant to start last Saturday but then we had two teams withdraw, leaving us with only three confirmed teams.

“In order to have a competition we needed a fourth team, so we put out an urgent call to the community through Facebook, and they responded.

“Now we have six teams — Seeka Falcons, Paikea Whalers, Waengapu Stallions, Ngatapa Stags, Turanga Panthers and the United Bulldogs.

“Across the country there are provinces struggling to run a competition, so we’re really happy to be in a position where our staunch leaguies get to play the game they love, their loyal supporters get to watch some action-packed games and our rangatahi (youth) get to play more rugby league.

“Everyone’s winning and having six teams is a win in itself.”

Another highlight is the return of one of the region’s traditional clubs, Turanga Panthers, who have been out of the competition for a number of years.

“Turanga dominated the competition back in the day and were a passionate rugby league club.

“They’re a team that shouldn’t be underestimated and we’re excited to have them back in the mix,” says Tuwairua-Brown.

Ngatapa Stags, featuring players who cross over from union, are also back.

“They were just finding their feet at the end of the last year’s competition. We saw their growth and hopefully they will be able to carry that through.”

Wairoa’s United Bulldogs have been part of the competition in recent years and always bring an exciting element to the contest, says Tuwairua-Brown.

“They will be travelling from Wairoa to play, as they have in past years, which really shows their commitment.

Three teams who have been front-runners in recent years — the Whalers, Falcons and Stallions — should continue being major forces.

“We expect a strong contest between these teams. There will be a mix of young legs and old heads, and it will certainly come down to who wants it the most.”

There has been a strong focus on developing rangatahi in the game over the past two years, and their transition into premier level will provide opportunities to continue developing their league knowledge and skills, Tuwairua-Brown says.

This focus on the future has also resulted in a series of working bees at Awapuni Sports Stadium.

“We have had three working bees already and there will be another this Sunday from 10.30am.

“Painting is the task. The more hands we have, the quicker the mahi (work)will get done.

“If anyone wants to donate materials or their time, anything will be appreciated. We’re extremely grateful to those who have already given to this kaupapa (cause).

“We want to create a safe, healthy, thriving environment that our rangatahi feel proud of.

“We need to keep our rangatahi in mind; they’re our future.

“It’s all about succession planning and ensuring the future of rugby league in Tairawhiti.”

Week 1 draw —11.30am: Seeka Falcons v Turanga Panthers.

1pm: Ngatapa Stags v United Bulldogs.

2.30pm: Waengapu Stallions v Paikea Whalers.

The Gisborne Tairawhiti Rugby League senior competition begins tomorrow at Awapuni Sports Stadium, signalling the start of a new era of the sport in the district.

Six teams will battle for the Dave Ahu Memorial Trophy — an honour reigning champions Paikea Whalers won’t be giving up easily.

GTRL chairwoman Wanita Tuwairua-Brown says that after a false start, it is all-go.

“The season was meant to start last Saturday but then we had two teams withdraw, leaving us with only three confirmed teams.

“In order to have a competition we needed a fourth team, so we put out an urgent call to the community through Facebook, and they responded.

“Now we have six teams — Seeka Falcons, Paikea Whalers, Waengapu Stallions, Ngatapa Stags, Turanga Panthers and the United Bulldogs.

“Across the country there are provinces struggling to run a competition, so we’re really happy to be in a position where our staunch leaguies get to play the game they love, their loyal supporters get to watch some action-packed games and our rangatahi (youth) get to play more rugby league.

“Everyone’s winning and having six teams is a win in itself.”

Another highlight is the return of one of the region’s traditional clubs, Turanga Panthers, who have been out of the competition for a number of years.

“Turanga dominated the competition back in the day and were a passionate rugby league club.

“They’re a team that shouldn’t be underestimated and we’re excited to have them back in the mix,” says Tuwairua-Brown.

Ngatapa Stags, featuring players who cross over from union, are also back.

“They were just finding their feet at the end of the last year’s competition. We saw their growth and hopefully they will be able to carry that through.”

Wairoa’s United Bulldogs have been part of the competition in recent years and always bring an exciting element to the contest, says Tuwairua-Brown.

“They will be travelling from Wairoa to play, as they have in past years, which really shows their commitment.

Three teams who have been front-runners in recent years — the Whalers, Falcons and Stallions — should continue being major forces.

“We expect a strong contest between these teams. There will be a mix of young legs and old heads, and it will certainly come down to who wants it the most.”

There has been a strong focus on developing rangatahi in the game over the past two years, and their transition into premier level will provide opportunities to continue developing their league knowledge and skills, Tuwairua-Brown says.

This focus on the future has also resulted in a series of working bees at Awapuni Sports Stadium.

“We have had three working bees already and there will be another this Sunday from 10.30am.

“Painting is the task. The more hands we have, the quicker the mahi (work)will get done.

“If anyone wants to donate materials or their time, anything will be appreciated. We’re extremely grateful to those who have already given to this kaupapa (cause).

“We want to create a safe, healthy, thriving environment that our rangatahi feel proud of.

“We need to keep our rangatahi in mind; they’re our future.

“It’s all about succession planning and ensuring the future of rugby league in Tairawhiti.”

Week 1 draw —11.30am: Seeka Falcons v Turanga Panthers.

1pm: Ngatapa Stags v United Bulldogs.

2.30pm: Waengapu Stallions v Paikea Whalers.

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