Canberra raiding our league talent
Tokoroa breeds rugby league stars almost as well as it breeds forests. And Dylan Clark is the town’s latest prodigy.
The 17-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Canberra Raiders NRL club after 13 years of chasing his dreams.
‘‘I didn’t believe it at first,’’ he said. Earlier teenager this year celebrated the his selection as a finalist in the New Zealand Rugby League national awards and last year his selection as a member of the New Zealand under- 16 Kiwis side.
But this by far trumps them all, he said.
The Tokoroa High School head boy will head over to Canberra in March for his first stint with the club, and every holiday after that before moving there fulltime to start studying and playing fulltime next year.
All travel, living and study costs will be covered by the club until the end of 2017, he said.
Clark, who signed with an agent at the end of 2014, said it has always been his dream to be signed by the Raiders.
‘‘They have been my favourite team since I can remember . . . My uncle used to play for them.’’
Quentin Pongia was a prop for the Raiders from 1993-97 and in 2009 returned to become the strength and conditioning coach for the Canberra Raiders Toyota Cup side.
It is fair to say talent runs in Clark’s blood, but so does a passion for achieving his goals.
And that passion was recognised by numerous clubs including the Bulldogs and Warriors.
Clark said it was a family decision to go with the Raiders.
The second-rower said he’ll start by joining an academy for 16 and 17-year-olds.
‘‘If I do well then the next time I go over I’ll go along with their under-18s team.’’
He said the next 12 months will be a challenge, managing school life in Tokoroa with his budding rugby league career in Australia.
Clark said he has been training at least once a day, if not twice, in the buildup.
‘‘They just said ‘don’t slack off, make sure you train’.’’
Clark said a huge thanks goes to his friends, family and the Pacific Sharks for all their help and support.
Dylan Clark’s signing with the Raiders was made official at the NRL Auckland Nines tournament.