Tokoroa up there with city players
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.