Car­ry­ing his fam­ily’s rugby league legacy

South Waikato News - - Out & About - LUKE KIRKEBY

If a Toko­roa teen’s fam­ily’s his­tory is any­thing to go by his dream of one day tak­ing on the NRL’S top job doesn’t seem far­fetched.

Be­ing the Na­tional Rugby League (NRL) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer is Casey Clark’s ul­ti­mate long term goal.

But for now the 16-year-old is happy with be­ing se­lected to play for Waicoa Bay Un­der 18s.

It’s not sur­pris­ing that Casey has big dreams when it comes to rugby league, af­ter all his koro (grand­fa­ther) Ge­orge Ta­hapehi was one of the founders of the sport in the South Waikato which is renowned for pro­duc­ing top play­ers. Is­sac John, Zane Tete­vano and Joseph Manu are three of them.

His el­dest brother Dane Clark was also the first re­cip­i­ent rep­re­sent­ing Toko­roa High School at the 2014 In­dige­nous Rugby League All Stars Camp in Bris­bane, he played for Waicoa Bay U17s, cap­tained the Bay of Plenty District Rugby League (BOPDRL) 17s and 15s, and cap­tained Pa­cific Sharks U17s and Prem Two.

His other older brother Dy­lan Clark is cur­rently con­tracted to New­cas­tle Knights NYC20, was the South Waikato Ju­nior Sports­man twice, played for New Zealand Un­der 16s and 18s, Waicoa Bay, and BOPDRL, as well as cap­tain­ing teams.

So Casey has been sur­rounded by rugby league his whole life.

‘‘My broth­ers and I trained when we were re­ally young in our Koro and Nan’s back­yard which at the time was mas­sive. Ev­ery­day af­ter school we’d go out the back and tackle and make moves on each other,’’ he said.

‘‘This cre­ated a bond of to­geth­er­ness and a strength and men­tal­ity in all of us to be com­pet­i­tive while still en­forc­ing good sports­man­ship and broth­er­hood. I think that hav­ing those small com­pe­ti­tions helped us all to grow as peo­ple and be­come bet­ter rugby league play­ers.’’

He said it was im­por­tant to him to con­tinue his koro’s legacy and aim for the top while also en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers in small towns to do the same.

‘‘My long term goal is to be the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the NRL be­cause I want to be in­clu­sive of those peo­ple out­side of the big cities. There is so much ta­lent in our re­gion and I be­lieve they don’t get a fair chance to be looked at. If I do gain a top po­si­tion in the NRL, I can make a change to that,’’ he said.

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Toko­roa’s Casey Clark has big dreams when it comes to rugby league.

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