Auckland Māori U20 League team faces Samoa

By Tema Hemi

The Auckland Māori U20 side will take on the Toa Samoa Invitational U20 in the curtain raiser for the main game Auckland Maori Rugby League team vs Tonga Invitational side at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow where they will compete for the Mann Cup.

Today coaching staff and players of the Auckland Māori U20 met for the first time to best prepare themselves for tomorrow's big game. 

Coach Neville Rogers says, "We've had a couple of late inclusions which has been good.  A couple of the Warriors 20s boys have been released and are allowed to play so that's bolstered the squad".

Like all successful squads, the importance of gelling together as a team will go a long way in the game.

Neville also says, "Whakawhanaungatanga and kōtahitanga within the team is always going to be a massive thing for us".

And just like all Māori representative teams, te reo Māori me ōna tikanga is paramount.

"Its just looking for the mana inside the jersey, so we've spoken about that and connecting some of the boys with their roots in terms of their taha Māori".

The captain of the side, Wyatt Tutere Rangi, is amping to lead his team.

"I'll try bring some comms and lead by example on the field. I just makes me proud, you know, to represent my family".

For some there's no greater honor than representing their people.

Second rower Tayhler Paora says, "[I'm] pretty excited aye, it's always a huge honor to represent my culture".

For most of these players the ultimate dream would be to gain an NRL contract, but for now their attention is on a big physical Toa Samoa Invitational side.

Kick off is at 12pm.