Toko­roa up there with city play­ers

South Waikato News - - SPORT - By PETRICE TAR­RANT

Head­ing into rugby league na­tion­als with a seed­ing of sixth place is ex­cep­tional for a small ru­ral school such as Toko­roa High School.

And to be the only non-Auck­land team in the coun­try to be ranked in the top 10 is tes­ta­ment to their wor­thi­ness.

Head coach Tama Teakura will be tak­ing a squad of 22 up to the Rugby League First XIII Na­tion­als start­ing Septem­ber 1 and, as usual, they are shoot­ing for the No 1 spot.

‘‘We always go with the intention of win­ning the cham­pi­onships but top four would be great.’’

It will not be an easy trip away with a few less kilo­grams packed into this year’s squad.

The av­er­age weight of their play­ers is about 80 kilo­grams, he said, but that is noth­ing com­pared to the 120kg Samoans they will front up against.

‘‘But what we lack in size we’re com­pen­sat­ing for in skill.’’

Though the four-day tour­na­ment is the year’s high­light for many, the head coach knows there are big­ger fish to fry.

The devel­op­ment pro­gramme the school is con­stantly im­prov­ing is fo­cused on the future and set on pre­par­ing the young men for the field and life, Teakura said.

The play­ers are en­cour­aged to at­tend 80 per cent of classes and ob­tain at least 15 credits in each sub­ject.

And it is amaz­ing how rais­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions has im­proved per­for­mances both on and off the field, he said.

When he first ar­rived in 2010 the school was ranked 16th out of the 16 teams na­tion­wide. They are now sit­ting in sixth place out of all 32 teams.

And oth­ers are start­ing to recog­nise them too.

The coun­try’s No 1 side, Kel­ston Boys High School, has asked for a pre-tour­na­ment match against Toko­roa High School this week­end.

Train­ing time: Toko­roa High School’s rugby league play­ers are pre­par­ing for na­tion­als in Septem­ber.

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