It was day two of the New Zealand's Secondary Schools League Nationals held at Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura. The top division bringing together 24 teams from across the country.
One team who has made the trek to Auckland looking for secondary school league supremacy is Whakatāne's Trident High School.
This is the first year Palmerston North's Manukura School have been in the top flight of league schools in the country.
Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie says, “The biggest thing for us here is respect, earning the respect here.”
It's the pinnacle of schoolboy rugby league in New Zealand. The multitudes have descended with lofty league dreams. However, it isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Pewhairangi-Charlie says, “Heaps of my teammates were saying we would be sweet, and win our games. Then we arrived at the pōhiri yesterday and saw how big the boys were, then started thinking otherwise.”
Organisers say that this is the perfect platform for young talent to be seen by NRL scouts.
Organiser Dean Watkins says, “In terms of giving boys an opportunity, putting them in the shop window for NRL clubs and promoting that pathway, an actual secondary schools tournament.”
Another school taking that opportunity with both hands is Whakatāne's Trident High School, who squared off today with James Cook High School.
Te Kawe Ratu from Trident High School says, “This is the first year for them. Most of them haven’t played league before. It is a new thing, some of them understand the game, but the majority of them haven’t taken much notice of it before.”
Pewhairangi-Charlie, already in his second year of a three-year deal with the Penrith Panthers, like the other boys here, intends to make a name for himself.
Tomorrow is the final day of pool play, with tomorrow's rising stars all looking to get their own names noticed in the finals series which commences on Thursday.