Antz in charge of six grand fi­nals

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - KRIS DANDO

Ref­er­ees need to have thick skins and Antz Akavi gives as good as he gets.

The Porirua Vik­ings stal­wart ref­er­eed his sixth grand fi­nal in a row when premier new­com­ers Whiti Te Ra beat Rand­wick on Au­gust 20.

He got into ref­er­ee­ing just seven years ago, al­though he had of­fi­ci­ated ju­nior grades for years be­cause his chil­dren be­gan play­ing the game he loved.

‘‘I’m not some­one who sat there and read the rules of rugby league cover to cover,’’ he said.

‘‘But I played it all my life, so I know what’s go­ing on. I can pick up the small things on the field eas­ily and I’m not afraid to make the big calls.’’

Never one to mince words, Akavi said one mo­ti­va­tion for tak­ing up the whis­tle was the bi­ased ref­er­ees from out­side Porirua.

‘‘When I was play­ing [in the 1980s], all the refs were from the Hutt Val­ley or Welling­ton. Us Porirua boys didn’t get many calls and it was pretty bru­tal.’’

Akavi, 45, doesn’t ref the Vik­ings much dur­ing the sea­son, but im­par­tial­ity is not a prob­lem. If any­thing, he said he was tougher on the Vik­ings.

Ban­ter from the side­line and from the play­ers is to be ex­pected.

‘‘I get moan, moan, moan from play­ers at premier level, but you go ref ju­niors and they shut up and get on with it,’’ he said

‘‘Some of these prem guys get touched and they’re scream­ing about a head-high tackle. Get on with it, and don’t get me started about the ad­vice I get from the side­line - it never stops.’’

Vice chair­man of the Welling­ton Rugby League Ref­er­ees As­so­ci­a­tion, Akavi said there needed to be more com­ing through the ranks. Some­times he rushed from a game in Porirua to Wainuiomata to do two games in one af­ter­noon.

He has no plans to give it up, al­though if a coach­ing role comes up at the Vik­ings, he will con­sider putting the whis­tle away. For now, he has the na­tional pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion to keep him busy for the next three months.

‘‘This is my game, I love it and I’ll keep go­ing as long as I can.’’

WHO IS ANTZ AKAVI

Seven years as premier ref­eree. Teams: War­riors and Porirua Vik­ings.

Favourite fix­ture: The Vik­ings v Dragons derby.

Best grand fi­nal: Rand­wick v Te Aroha, 2015. ‘‘ A spe­cial game be­cause we were at West­pac Sta­dium [cur­tain raiser to War­riors].’’

Favourite ground: Kel­burn Park (Uni­ver­sity). ‘‘It’s quiet, mate. You don’t get any stick from the side­line. Those stu­dents are nice and po­lite.’’

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