It’s a big time for local rugby league
Mana and Bishop Viard colleges’ rugby league sides will represent Porirua in the upcoming quarterfinals of the Stephen Kearney Cup, hoping to reach the semifinals a week later on home turf.
Tomorrow, at the Te Whaea artificial turf in Newtown, Mana will take on St Pat’s (Wellington), while Viard will battle Rongotai for a place in the Cup semi-finals. In the plate section, Porirua College play Wellington College at Elsdon, while Aotea take on Tawa College at Tawa.
It will be a big day at Porirua Park on October 19, with the Junior Kiwi and Kangaroo sides training from 3.30pm, with local junior players invited to take part in the sessions.
The semi-finals of the Stephen Kearney Cup will follow at 6pm and 7.30pm. These matches will likely draw some well-known spectators, with Kearney himself and some Kiwi and Great Britain senior players attending.
Wellington Rugby League’s general manager Jason Hemson says Benji Marshall, Simon Mannering and Isaac Luke have past ties to this region, so fingers are crossed they will be in attendance.
The Kiwis and Great Britain play a test match at Westpac Stadium on October 23, so will be training in Wellington next week.
‘‘It’s great that we can have the junior sides helping out with sessions for the young kids – these are players with NRL and Toyota Cup experience. And having the senior players come out to see the schools’ semis is what we need to help promote the game,’’ says Hemson.
The Stephen Kearney Cup is going from ‘‘strength to strength’’, he says, with two extra teams this season. The competition is on at the end of the rugby season, to give college athletes the opportunity to be exposed to league.
‘‘It’s the best decision we could make and the boys are really, really enjoying it. We’re always going to be up against it in terms of rugby’s popularity and resources, so we have to be smarter about how we go about things,’’ says Hemson.