Missed opportunity for NZ league youth

  • Auckland
  • Australia

New Zealand Rugby League has cancelled the New Zealand U18's two-game series against Australia because the NZ side couldn't afford to go ahead with the tests due to be played in Brisbane on September 27 and October 2.

This old dog says the young need a chance to learn new tricks too.

‘We had very strong pathways that were there so that our kids especially in NZ, we could retain their hearts for NZ’ says Tony Kemp

Two weeks ago the NZRL cancelled the NZ U18's league series against the Australian Schoolboys, a game which dates back to 1972, because of lack of funding.

For Tony Kemp ‘It's probably the last important step for a kiwi boy, knowing that I come from a small rural town in Waitara, got to play three years in the Junior Kiwis structure and went to New Castle, you know 25 tests and 14 years as a pro is testament to what that key part of the pathway is.’

Just like Kemp, current Kiwi players such as Isaac Luke, Manu Vatuvei and Greg Eastwood appeared in 2005, and young Piki Rogers was a graduate of the 2013 side and now plays for the Bulldogs U20s.

According to Piki Rogers "It's a disadvantage to those in the NZ system to not have that exposure, especially over here with the amount of teams that are over here as well."

Kemp is hopeful if NZRL can't come up with the funding, the NRL will step in.

"To scrap the game it’s a little bit unrealistic, I think what we possibly will see is the NRL stepping up and making sure these games happen.’" says Tony Kemps

Despite the cancellation, the NZRL said they were continuing to work with the Australian Rugby League Commission to reschedule the fixtures later in the year.