Trials for the inaugural U16 Shaun Johnson Shield pre-season competition took place on Saturday. The two trial sessions were played at Cornwall Park where all four regions of Auckland had the opportunity to show selectors why they deserve to make the competition teams.
The first trial session of the day kicked off at 9am between Tāmaki ki te Rawhiti (North) and Tāmaki ki te Uru (West). Coaching staff warmed up the teams before kicking off six periods of action, allowing players to rotate frequently and get a share of the playing time available.
Fletcher Butler, head coach of the U16 Tāmaki ki te Uru (West) side, said that the boys’ efforts were on full display. “We had a group of boys that went out there never having played together before and showed a lot of courage given the limited time they’ve had as a group.”
NEWS | History making Stanley Iongi continues journey with @RaidersCanberra ⚔️
The playmaking hooker made his mark throughout the Auckland grades, playing for the Marist Saints and various representative and development teams.
Full story 👉 https://t.co/RQANIWBQpj
— Auckland Rugby League (@aucklandleague) January 21, 2022
Butler also commented that it was very exciting to see this level of play and that he and assistant coach Matt Matamu are looking forward to building on the performance over the next month. “I believe in a month’s time, we will be a different side.”
As the day progressed, the heat turned up with players opting for shade to get a break from the hot summer sun. The second trial session were in the thick of it as things kicked off just after 11 between Tāmaki ki te Tonga (South) and Tāmaki ki te Rawhiti (East).
Head coach of U16 Tāmaki ki te Tonga (South), Ruka Loza spoke on the opportunity this is for the boys trialling on the day. “Everyone came with the intent to want to try and prove themselves and there’s an awesome opportunity here for the boys to make this team.”
Selectors will now discuss the performances at trials with the teams to be finalised and announced for each region this Friday at 5pm.