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Rugby League is back in the curriculum when the National Secondary Schools Tournament Week kicks off on Monday 14 August at Mt Smart Stadium.
The six schools competing for the national title include three from Rugby League?s South Auckland stronghold (Otahuhu, Manurewa and Southern Cross), reigning champions St Pauls College of Auckland City and traditional foes Wainuiomata and Aranui Hgh Schools representing the Wellington and Canterbury regions.
As in any sport, secondary school rivalries are expected to bring out the best in both the players and the band of passionate supporters that tend to follow.
New Zealand Rugby League is proud to be supporting this event but credits the many dedicated staff and officials involved at this level for keeping the game alive in secondary schools.
Warriors and NZRL coaching and development staff will closely monitor the event as this tier of football has previously been the launching pad for the likes of Simon Mannering who first came to the attention of selectors while playing for Nelson College in the 2003 National Secondary Schools Tournament.
He was selected that year for the NZ Secondary Schools team that narrowly lost to their Australian counterparts and by 2004 had earned Junior Kiwis and NZ Residents jerseys on the back of solid NJC and Bartercard Cup performances for Wellington before his making first grade debut for the Warriors in 2005.
His Warriors team mate Jerome Ropati was part of the historic raid that St Pauls College launched on the cream of Australia?s Secondary Schools talent after making it all the way to the quarter finals of Australia?s iconic national knock-out competition in 2002, the Nutri-Grain Cup.
St Paul?s will have its work cut out defending it?s 2005 title against the visitors from down country while also having to keeping a wary eye on it?s neighbours from Manukau City.
The formal opening of the tournament will take place 10am Tuesday 15 August at St Pauls College, 183 Richmond Road, Ponsonby, Auckland.