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22 hours ago
Yet another young kiwi showing a huge potential for the game has been snapped up by an Australian club, Hayden Karena swaps the Wai Coa Bay Stallions for the Central Queensland Comets.
Karena, a sensation for the rookie Bartercard Cup side, the Stallions, leaves tomorrow to join the Comets, an associate club of the North Queensland Cowboys, and move a step closer to dream which is the NRL.
There will be no time for settling in, no sightseeing for the goalkicking halfback, he will be in action immediately, training with the Comets squad tomorrow afternoon, and playing in their round 11 game on Saturday.
""It's still a bit of a blur to me when I said yes. It's all moved pretty fast," said the 22-year-old.
"I have always wanted to play NRL level. I have just got to take the opportunity, another one might not come."
Cowboys officials were supposed to attend the Stallions' round five match against Wellington in Huntly on Saturday but, offered Karena a contract for the rest of this year and 2005 after viewing videotapes of Stallions games, although Karena has signed on only for this season.
After five rounds of the Bartercard Cup, the Stallions are the competition's standout performers taking sole charge of the leaderboard a point ahead of Marist Richmond Brothers.
Karena has been a vital key to that, scoring 38 points including one try and 17 conversions in four games, which rates him fifth in the competition, and kicking goals at a 77 per cent success rate with his own distinctive kicking style.
Karena should have 12 games in the Queensland Cup competition to impress with the Comets this season. He hopes to repeat his scintillating form with the Stallions and in winning the New South Wales group nine title with the Tumut Blues last season.
"It's pretty much like a trial, trialling to get in the 25 players at the end of the season when they start buying players. It will be a hard road getting into a new team and trying to work a new pattern."
Karena played three seasons of rugby in Waikato with Morrinsville Sports and Frankton, but never let his rugby league dreams die.
"I just thought I'd give it a go and maybe dream about being an All Black," he said.
"Those dreams are not there too much anymore. I have gone back to my league dreams."