Internationals List of Kiwi Eligible Players in the NRL NYC 2016


Morgan Harper from Ngaruawahia signed with Canterbury Bulldogs for 2 seasons. Will play for the Bulldogs Holden Cup team next season.

No shortage of motivation for young league player Morgan Harper


Morgan Harper already has more motivation than most his age to make his shot at the NRL worth it.

A two-year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs has Harper, who turned 18 just a couple of months back, trading the stodgy surrounds of Ngaruawahia for the bright lights of Sydney. It's a move which the teenage talent hopes can take him to first-grade and a career in the game, but one which comes with a major drawback for the young father.

Harper will cross the Tasman later this month and leave behind nine-month-old twin boys, Leo and Ryder, with the aim of getting on his feet, saving some coin, and getting in a position to provide for them so they can make the move to join him in a couple of years or so.

The rules of the under-20s Holden Cup competition are that players have to either work or study, around their football.

So Harper's plan is to earn, on top of his contract, with his living costs to be mostly taken care of, as he joins half a dozen or so fellow players in a 'Bulldogs House' where they are on-site with a host family, sharing domestic duties.

"I'm looking to bring them [the twins] over if I make something of it," said Harper, who will be back for Christmas and then on the likes of bye weekends. "I'd like to bring them over and set them up with a good life, that's my main goal, really, to get over there and train, work my butt off, and then hopefully provide for them.

"Over there a lot of businesses are friendly with the NRL clubs. They give you hours that fit in with your training schedule, so that's real helpful."

This was Harper's first season in premier club footy, playing for the title-winning Ngaruawahia Panthers side in the Waikato first division.

He followed his family roots into the game of league, at the age of four. There was a season of rugby for Taupiri, and through school he made it onto the wing of the 1st XV - before getting back into the 13-man code.

"[It's] just where my heart was, I think, to be honest," he said. "I enjoyed rugby and I'm grateful for what rugby has done, but I've always been a league boy."

Harper made Waikato age-group league teams along the way, as well as the New Zealand Residents under-16s, then under-18s.

His preference is in the halves or at fullback, though in Waikato's unbeaten rep season this year he made a fine impression on the wing, with the baby of the team scoring five tries in the six games, with his speed a key weapon. But it's been his tackling which has been Harper's key work-on of late, and putting on 6kg since the start of the year, to now stand at 87kg, has helped his cause.

With Harper having been a Dragons fan growing up, and having Mark Gasnier as his favourite player, that of course has now all changed, thanks to his signing with the Dogs.

That came about through being spotted by player agent Daniel O'Loughlin during a national under-17 Maori tournament a few years back.

"I met with him and he spoke to me and he said 'I can't promise you anything, but I can help you get where you want to'," Harper said. "So I signed with him to help guide me through, because he's quite a well-respected agent in Australia around the clubs."

Later that year O'Loughlin broke the news to Harper that the Bulldogs were interested in him. The Warriors had also sniffed around, but Harper was impressed with the Bulldogs' development of superstars - the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Johnathan Thurston, the latter being his current-day idol.

From there the Bulldogs signed Harper on a training contract, where he was one of several youngsters to attend four training camps, in both Sydney and Auckland over the past couple of years.

It was an eye-opening experience, getting to grips with the club's structures, gaining an insight into the wrestling technique of the tackle, even learning how to cook, while rubbing shoulders with first-graders in the gym, finding common ground with coach Des Hasler in their passion for fishing, and meeting the club's Kiwi CEO Raelene Castle.

"You just look around and it's like 'Oh wow, this could be you in a few years'," Harper said of seeing the superstars. "But at the same time, you look at them as your idols, but you've sort of got to keep your head on, because you're there as well, you can't be a little kid about it."

While the NRL's under-20s competition is set to be scrapped after next year, Harper was offered a two-year deal which will see him look to make every post a winner.

"Earning a contract after [under] 20s is the main goal," he said, noting the minimal amount of players who do actually go from the 20s to first grade.

"One of my fellas I play with at Panthers, he was in my position, but he's not afraid to say that he stuffed it up. He just told me to work hard and make sure you put in the effort, otherwise nothing will really happen for you."
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Great young man this kid.
Has his head screwed on.
If anyone can catch The Wellington v Waikato relegation game.
You will see how good this kid is.
Plays lock in his own age group.
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Ofa Manuofetoa has signed with Newcastle Knights SG Ball for 2017.

Rugby League: Newcastle Knights swoop for Kiwi schoolboy


Newcastle have reportedly signed a New Zealand schoolboy rugby union star on the back of just three games in rugby league.

was spotted by Knights scouts while making his debut in the 13-man game at an under-17 tournament in Rotorua this year.

The 17-year-old stands at 193cm and 104kg, but played fullback for his Canterbury-based Timaru Boys' High School rugby first XV.

"I've been studying a booklet with the basics (of rugby league) which I am trying to get my head around," Manuofetoa told Fairfax Media. "It's pretty exciting but I have a lot to learn.

"I expect it will be tough but I will give it my best shot."

He is expected to play with the Knights under-18s before graduating to the Holden Cup for under-20s.

Three games of league sees Timaru teenager signed to Newcastle Knights


A talented Timaru schoolboy has been signed to the Newcastle Knights after only three games of rugby league.

Ofa Manuofetoa was spotted while playing for Canterbury at the national under 17 tournament in Rotorua, which was also his league debut.

Since then it has been a whirlwind for the 17-year-old with several Australian NRL clubs showing interest

Manuofetoa suddenly had to find an agent, check the contract offers and try and quickly learn a little more about the 13-man game.

Code switching wasn't on Manuofeta's mind two months ago, when he was happy playing fullback for the Timaru Boys' High School First XV in the Crusaders Schools Championship.

Manuofetoa is an impressive build for a back, he tips the scales at 104kg and stands 1.93m tall.

His mentor Nathan Robinson said his size, height and age that was the attraction for the Knights, plus the fact he was raw, with no bad habits.

Raw however is an understatement.

Manuofetoa admits he knows nothing about league, has no favourite NRL club or any affiliation to a State of Origin side.

He hasn't even been to Australia before.

"I've been studying a booklet with the basics which I am trying to get my head around."

Manuofetoa said he was a bit nervous but looking forward to the opportunity.

"It's pretty exciting but I have a lot to learn.

"I expect it will be tough but I will give it my best shot."

He will join the Knights under 18 team initially and then hopes to progress to the under 20 side.

Manuofetoa has signed on former Kiwis coach Frank Endacott as his manager and said in took some time to go through the 58 page contract.

In Newcastle Manuofetoa will only need spending money with everything else provided by the Knights

"I am going to be a in a flat with a couple of other guys and a parent."

He will also start an electrical apprenticeship, in between training and playing.

Manuofetoa is only one of three players selected from outside the Newcastle area for the squad for the summer training camp.

The convert said he was working hard on his fitness, which was different to rugby.

"It's back and forward all the time with no real rest."

Manuofetoa big break came when Timaru rugby league organiser Nathan Robinson spotted him at South Canterbury rugby sevens training in 2015 and saw he had plenty of skills.

Robinson is friends with the Canterbury Rugby League under 17 coach and fellow Cook Islander, Tai Arona.

"I told him there was a giant winger with huge potential playing rugby. He is 6 foot 3 inches and built like a No.8."

Robinson arranged for Manuofetoa to head to Christchurch and Arona liked what he saw.

The 17-year-old survived two trials to make the Canterbury tournament team and since then he has been in hot demand.

Timaru Boys High School First XV coach Gavin Miller had been hoping to have Manuofetoa back at school in 2017 but was delighted for him.

"It is a wonderful opportunity, so we all wish him all the best.

"It would be great if he can make it all the way to the NRL."
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Seen this kid play on the rugby channel.
He has a Clinton Toopi style of ball running.
likes to ball play , which I guess is easy with his frame.
Defence seems reasonably sound.

All the best young man.


Jirah Momoisea from St Paul's college has signed with Melbourne Storm.

College Sport: Rugby's the first love but league snares rising star


Jirah Momoisea is clearly a fast learner.

The 18-year-old St Paul's College deputy head boy only took up league this year to supplement his rugby as the First XV captain.

So well did he take to the 13-man code that he has won himself a contract with NRL club Melbourne Storm after making the College Rugby League (CRL) team of the year as the top second-rower.

"Being my final year, I just wanted to play everything, so it was touch, cricket, volleyball, AFL, rugby and league," says Momoisea, not to mention fitting in his prefect's duties and studies, at which he excels.

"I never thought I'd play for an NRL club. I signed up for league because it was my last shot, but union was originally my goal."

The Blues had noticed him for their under 18 ranks as either a lock or blindside flanker for St Paul's in the 1B competition. The school has a proud history of success with several 1A First XV titles in the late 1960s and 1970s.

His younger brother, Rocky, also shows promise in the league and rugby ranks.

"My background was always rugby. My grandfather (Pafelio Momoisea) played for Manu Samoa in the 1970s, so he was a big influence in getting me to play rugby. He's been pushing me all this time," says Jirah.

He was scouted by the Storm, who have strong connections in New Zealand, on his way to helping St Paul's to a second consecutive CRL premiership. They beat Wesley in the grand final and earned fourth place in last month's nationals in Papakura.

He will likely play for the Storm under 20s next year " following in the footsteps of former Auckland First XV talent such as Matt McGahan and Suliasi Vunivalu, who made Melbourne his home.

He will need to report for pre-season training by November 28, just four days after his last exam.

Momoisea learned the nuances of league swiftly, helped by his team-mates, CRL coach of the year Junior Fiu and guided by the school's director of sport, Dave McDermott.

"A lot of the boys have played league all their lives, so I've been getting guidance from them as well.

"That's been a massive help, and Junior was really big in guiding me."

Basic skills are, of course, transferable from rugby to league for a forward.

"But, in league, you get more opportunity to run, whereas in my position in union, the breakdown means you don't have the same opportunity to show what you can do. Playing in the middle, though, is challenging. I had to get fit in the pre-season," he says.

Things got busy in terms two and three, with league games on Wednesday afternoons, First XV games on Saturday and training every other night. Sunday was a rest day.

"It was hard at the beginning. I applied for all these things and I then found I had these commitments I had to turn up to.

"My mum made me a Google calendar, jotted down all my subjects and helped me with time management."

But Momoisea's wiry frame handled most things that were thrown at him. A smart, fit player with a high work-rate, he fitted seamlessly into the St Paul's league culture.

Now he will look to slot seamlessly in to the Storm ranks.


Keebra Park High School player Thomas Mikaele has signed with West Tigers

Aussie schoolboy links with Tigers

HE MIGHT have been born in New Zealand, but Ipswich rugby league sensation Thomas Mikaele is proud to be Australian raised.

Having already been named a 2015/16 QT-City of Ipswich junior monthly sportstar, Mikaele has earned himself a second nomination in 12 months, this time as a senior award winner.

A fierce Queenslander who has enjoyed a massive year on and off the field, Mikaele said moving to the rugby league-mad city of Ipswich had been the perfect fit for the 115kg forward.

"I fancy myself as Australian,” he said. "I'm NZ born but Australian at heart.

"Australia is home. I've spent 10 years here, first in Durack and then my family and I moved to Redbank. We love it here in Ipswich.”

At 18 years old, the Keebra Park State School student has already twice brought victory to his adopted country, as an Australian schoolboy representative.

After helping Australia to victory over his former New Zealand countrymen last year, Mikaele returned to the green and gold to take on the touring England Academy.

Despite handing out a 50-12 thumping to the visiting Englishmen, the 180cm forward described the contest as one of his biggest challenges to date.

"They were big and tough,” he said. "I wasn't expecting them to be so physical. Those games are the toughest I've been in.

"There's a lot of pressure but once you get out there you just leave it all behind.

"After beating New Zealand last year I felt very fortunate to make it the second time in a row. We were in camp for about two weeks ”

Now with his final school days fast approaching, Mikaele has earned himself a contract with the Wests Tigers NRL club.

Preparing to fly down two days after graduation, the former Goodna Eagles junior can't wait to test himself in a whole new environment.

"I know it'll be tough,” Mikaele said. "But it will be different and I am looking forward to getting that feeling of independence.

"I know a lot of blokes from Australian schoolboys who are down there and I've got a place in Sydney with a few of the other guys who have come down from Keebra Park.

"I'm sure my parents will miss me but I'll visit whenever I can.”

Confident that rugby league has taught him to be self reliant, Mikaele said he owed a lot to the sport he loves. "I wouldn't be the person I am now without rugby league,” he said. "It has made me a mature person and given me a sense of leadership.

"I enjoy being role model to some of the younger guys and I think it has given me a fighting mentality.”

Already well used to juggling his extensive playing career with school study, the gentle giant hopes to continue his education while in Sydney.

"I'll be doing a lot of training but I am also looking to go study in business,” he said.

"It's something I've been really interested since I've been in high school and I'd like to take that further.

"I did a short camp with them at the start of the year and I was just in awe of the guys down there.

"It's pretty cool seeing guys like Aaron Woods and those guys.

"I've followed the Tigers ever since I came over to Australia so I'm looking forward to doing a full pre-season there.”


South Island Scorpions Player Griffin Neame has signed with North Queensland Cowboys till the end of 2019.


update on how his trial went. Was suppose to trial for the Sharks SG Ball side but instead trialed for the Holden Cup side instead. Looks highly likely that he will be signed by the Sharks

Another update. Looks like has decided to instead sign with Canberra Raiders. Will play Holden Cup for them next season.


In a blast from the past, Former Roosters player Anthony Cherrington has signed with South Sydney Rabbitohs for the 2017 season. Remember him as the next big thing when he played for the Roosters. Injuries pretty much ruined him, was shocked to discover he's still only 28.

Yeah bro , he was a beast.
think he was out longer then Jordan Kahu injury wise.
But his come back at Penrith resulted in another injury.
Big body , so will fit right in with Souths.
Can he regain what he once had? or has he changed and adapted.
Be interesting to see how he goes.


Cruz Topai-Aveai from Christchurch plays for Celebration Lions u18s has been signed by South Sydney Rabbitohs for next year will play for the Rabbioths Holden Cup team.

Christchurch teenager Cruz Topai-Aveai signs with South Sydney Rabbitohs


He only started playing rugby league a year ago, but Christchurch teenager Cruz Topai-Aveai has already done enough for the South Sydney Rabbitohs to give him a shot.

Schooled at Shirley Boys' High School, Topai-Aveai has signed a one-year deal with the club and will move to Sydney next week to start pre-season training.

The 17-year-old backrower stands at 1.92m tall and weighs 107kg, and is the second Canterbury teenager with a rugby background to sign with an NRL club recently, after Timaru's Ofa Manuofetoa inked a deal with the Newcastle Knights.

Topai-Aveai, who was named in the New Zealand schools rugby squad this year, said the plan was to play in the NRL under-20s competition next year, with a long-term goal of playing in the NRL.

"I'm pretty excited and pretty nervous," Topai-Aveai said.

"At the start of the year, I thought this time was pretty far away but now it's already here. I'm just keen to get over, work hard and see the results."

Topai-Aveai played a couple of games for Christchurch's Aranui Eagles under-18s last year, before moving across town to play for the Celebration Lions this year.

He made the New Zealand under-17s merit team and was signed by the Rabbitohs after they flew him across the ditch for a trial.

Celebrations under-18s coach Phil Nati said Topai-Aveai was "like a man among children" when playing league

"I can't really speak highly enough of the kid," he said. "He's got a really good work ethic and he raises other players' levels.

"He's got a great change of speed for a big guy and he can throw some tin around in the gym. It's just the challenge of going over there and muscling up against all the Aussie guns that are coming up."

Nati has no doubt Topai-Aveai has what it takes to crack the NRL in the future, as long as he stays committed and puts in the hard work.

"A lot of people have said that," Topai-Aveai said. "I know that myself with a hard work anything is possible."

What is rugby league's gain is rugby's loss.

Topai-Aveai helped Shirley Boys' First XV reach the Crusaders secondary schools UC final against Christchurch Boys' this year.

The powerful No 8 was picked in the New Zealand schools squad but could not play because he had already signed with the Rabbitohs.

Topai-Aveai was born and bred in Christchurch and has represented Canterbury from under-12s level to the under-17s. He also made the Crusaders Knights under-17 team earlier this year.

Canterbury Rugby wanted to keep him around, leaving Topai-Aveai with a difficult decision.

"It was really hard to decide," he said. "I talked about it with my family and some close people and I just thought I would take this opportunity. People are going from rugby to league and league to rugby a lot now."

Topai-Aveai said he's "always been a Canterbury boy" and wouldn't rule out returning to rugby in the future.

"I just felt that the Rabbitohs were really welcoming and I could see myself there and really going well with them," he said.

"I just thought I could come back to rugby if I wanted later down the track. I could see myself developing more in this under-20s competition."
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Sounds like everyone is after another version of NAS.
No disrespect to you young Cruz.
I wish you all the best.


Rudi sifa, from Southern Cross campus in Auckland has signed with St George Dragons. Will play Holden Cup next season


Storm young gun to learn from the best

It's a name synonymous with success at the Melbourne Storm, and new recruit Brandon Smith is ready to put in the hard yards to follow in the footsteps of his namesake – and club captain – Cameron Smith.

The 20-year-old joined the Storm after two seasons for the Cowboys in the Holden Cup where he emerged as one of the most destructive dummy-halves in the competition.

The nuggety No.9 was a revelation in North Queensland in 2016 scoring 18 tries and setting up 21 more in a breakout season that saw him named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year despite plenty of stiff competition.

Having played rugby league since he was a three-year-old at the Waiheke Rams, the Junior Kiwis star is keen to knuckle down and fight his way into the Storm's star-studded NRL side.

He has already spoken to the coaching staff, and now Smith is ready to have a chat to pick the brains of the Storm, Morons and Kangaroos captain when he returns from Four Nations duties.

"I'm loving the culture at the club and the people that I'm are around are fantastic," Smith told Storm TV.

"It's a golden opportunity for any kid playing hooker. I'm looking forward to meeting him and I'm looking forward to learning everything he's got to teach me.

"I had a one-on-one with Bellamy (Storm coach Craig Bellamy) and Frank (General Manager of Football, Frank Ponissi) a couple of weeks ago and we just laid out the platform of where we're at and where we want to be.

"In two years hopefully I'm a consistent NRL player for the Storm."

Smith isn't the only former Cowboy on the Storm's books for 2017 with Jahrome Hughes joining his fellow New Zealander in the Victorian capital.

The 22-year-old initially played SG Ball for the Roosters before moving to the Gold Coast Titans in 2012 where he played three seasons of NYC and also made his first grade debut in 2013 at fullback against the Panthers.

Hughes has spent the past two seasons at the Townsville Blackhawks and earned another shot in the NRL with the Cowboys during the State of Origin period.

The two-time Queensland Cup Team of the Year fullback said Melbourne's renowned culture lured him down south, as did the prospect of learning off some of the game's best.

"I moved down a couple of weeks ago and I'm just finding my feet, but I'm really enjoying it at the moment," he said.

"The boys and the coaching staff have been very welcoming for me and they've made it very easy for me to come down to a new club.

"There's a lot that I want to work on. They've got very good senior players around here so I think I can learn a lot off those blokes and get the best out of my footy."

Out of all the young Kiwi hookers coming up in the NRL, Smith could be the best of the lot, training and playing alongside Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk as well as being coached by Craig Bellamy, he is going to be something special in a few years.
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