1987 New Zealand rugby league season

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The 1987 New Zealand rugby league season was the 80th season of rugby league that had been played in New Zealand. The main feature of the year was the Interdistricts Series competition that was run by the New Zealand Rugby League. Auckland won the series, defeating the other three inter-district teams.

International competitions[edit]

The New Zealand Kiwis began the season poorly when a domestic based side lost to the touring Queensland side 18-14 in May. Queensland then finished their tour undefeated by thrashing Bay of Plenty 72-6.

The Kiwis then toured Papua New Guinea and Australia later in the year. Coached by Tony Gordon the side was George Lajpold, Joe Ropati, Kevin Iro, Mark Elia, Dean Bell, Shane Horo, Gary Mercer, Sam Panapa, Gary Freeman, Peter Brown, Ross Taylor, Adrian Shelford, Barry Harvey, Wayne Wallace, Dean Lonergan, Mark Horo, Sam Stewart and captain Ron O'Regan. However O'Regan had to withdraw due to injury before the touring party left New Zealand. Dean Bell replaced him as captain while Shane Cooper was called into the squad.[1] The team defeated Northern Rivers 44-12 and Queensland 22-16 before there two test matches. Before the Queensland game the squad was joined by four Australian based professionals; Hugh McGahan, Brent Todd, Clayton Friend and Darrell Williams. As a result, four players were sent home after the Queensland game; Peter Brown and George Lajpold due to injury and Sam Panapa and Joe Ropati due to form. The Kiwis then travelled for Port Moresby and defeated Papua New Guinea 36-22 before returning to Brisbane and upsetting the Australian Kangaroos 13-6. The Kiwis had originally planned to host France in 1987 but the French withdrew from their planned tour of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand due to financial reasons.

The New Zealand XIII that played against Queensland was George Lajpold, Warren Mann, Kevin Iro, Tea Ropati, Gary Mercer, Sam Panapa, Gary Freeman, Adrian Shelford, Barry Harvey, Peter Brown, captain Sam Stewart, Peter Ropati and Mark Horo. Bench: Paddy Tuimavave and Wayne Wallace. Kiwis coach Tony Gordon coached the side. New South Wales Country conducted a two match tour of New Zealand before their annual City vs Country Origin match. They defeated Waikato 18-0 before losing to Auckland 6-44.

The Junior Kiwis made their first ever tour of Great Britain. The side was coached by Bob Bailey and included Jason Lowrie, Jason Palmada, Tony Tuimavave, Mike Steafano, Jarrod McCracken, Kevin Iro, David Bailey, Dean Clark, Mark Nixon, Terry Cuthbert and Tony Kemp.[2] The Junior Kiwis won all seven games on tour, including two "Tests" against British Amateur Rugby League Association.

The under 17-year old national side included Ken McIntosh, Hitro Okesene, Blair Harding and Tukere Barlow. Maea David, Mark Bourneville (as captain) and Stephen Kearney was included in the under 15-year old side.

Auckland also toured Great Britain. They were coached by Bob Bailey, who had already announced his retirement from the position at the end of the year.[3] The side defeated Leeds, 29-25, and Warrington, 22-16, before losing to St. Helens 52-26. They then lost to Hull F.C. 26-24 before defeating the champion Wigan club 10-6 in front of 10,743 fans at Central Park. They then lost to a Chairman's XIII 12-6 to finish the tour.[4] The squad was: John Ropati, Warren Mann, Shane Cooper, Marty Crequer, Shane Horo, Gary Freeman, Kevin Iro, Paddy Tuimavave, Sam Panapa, Michael Patton, Tea Ropati, Clayton Friend, Peter Brown, Steve Kaiser, Mark Horo, captain Ron O'Regan, Rene Nordmeyer, George Mann, Lindsay Hooker, James Goulding, Dean Lonergan, Peter Ropati and referee Bill Shrimpton.[5]

Dean Bell was the New Zealand Rugby League's player of the year.[6]

National competitions[edit]

Rugby League Cup[edit]

Auckland successfully defended the Rugby League Cup three times at Carlaw Park over the year. They defeated the Bay of Plenty 40-8, Wellington 40-0 and Waikato 82-4.[3]

Interdistricts Series[edit]

Auckland defeated the South Island 26-24 at Wingham Park.[5]

Seasons Standings[edit]

Team Pld W L PF PA Pts
Auckland 3 3 0 146 44 6
Central Districts 3 2 1 86 94 4
Northern Districts 3 1 2 43 122 2
South Island 3 0 3 62 77 0

National Provincial Competition[edit]

Wellington won the inter-zone final, defeating Bay of Plenty in the final. They then lost to Auckland in the National Provincial final.

North Island First Division[edit]

Southern Zone First Division[edit]

North Island Second Division[edit]

The Wellington Emerging players side won the Second Division title for the third successive year. Midlands defeated Northland at the end of the season to earn promotion into the First Division.

South Island Second Division[edit]

West Coast B won the Second Division, ending Canterbury B's nine-year domination of the division. They defeated Canterbury B, Otago and Southland on the way to the title. Glen Gibb and Bernie Green both played for West Coast B.

National Club Competition[edit]

The national club competition, called the Lion Red League Nationals for sponsorship reasons, was won by the Northcote Tigers who defeated the Mangere East Hawks 14-12 in the final. The final was held at Carlaw Park.[10]

In a qualifying match, He Tauaa (Southland) defeated St Kilda (Otago) 33-14.

Round of 16 Quarter Finals Semi Finals Grand Final
Mangere East (Auckland) 80
Kaiti (Gisborne EC) 12
Mangere East 42
He Tauaa 6
He Tauaa (Southland) 40
Runanga (West Coast) 10
Mangere East 48
Randwick 12
Randwick (Wellington) 52
Halswell (Canterbury) 12
Randwick 62
Frankton 14
Frankton (Waikato) 36
Turangi (Midlands) 10
Mangere East 12
Northcote 14
Northcote (Auckland) 54
Ngongotaha (B.O.P.) 0
Northcote 34
Upper Hutt 8
Upper Hutt (Wellington) 58
Marton (Manawatu) 8
Northcote 30
Hornby 4
Hornby (Canterbury) 36
Omahu (H.Bay) 5
Hornby 46
Waitara 10
Waitara (Taranaki) 24
Portland (Northland) 20

Club competitions[edit]


The Northcote Tigers won their first ever Fox Memorial when they defeated minor premiers, the Mangere East Hawks, 12-8 in front of 14,000 fans at Carlaw Park. It was the first time a North Shore club had won the Fox since 1941. The Te Atatu Roosters won the pre-season tournament, defeating the Mount Albert Lions 24-20. The Otahuhu Leopards won the knock out Roope Rooster, defeating the Glenora Bears 24-8 in the final.

Jason Lowrie, Marty Crequer, Gary Freeman and Shane Horo played for Northcote. Tom Conroy served as the Tigers trainer. Paddy Tuimavave, Tony Tuimavave and Kevin Iro played for Mount Albert while Mike Steafano played for the Marist Saints and Fred Ah Kuoi and James Goulding played for the Richmond Bulldogs.

Jarrod McCracken, Dean Lonergan, Michael Patton and David Bailey played for Glenora Bears. At the end of the season the Glenora Bears played the North Sydney Bears in front of 12,000 fans at Carlaw Park, losing 8-11. Dean Clark, Francis Leota and Tea, Peter and Iva Ropati played for Otahuhu Leopards while Ron O'Regan, Peter Brown, Mark Horo and Sam Panapa played for Te Atatu Roosters. Shane Cooper, who had joined from Mount Albert after 21 years with the Lions, and George Mann played for Mangere East Hawks. David Watson played for the Manukau Magpies.[3]


The Upper Hutt Tigers won their second grand final in a row, defeating the Randwick Kingfishers 20-12. Tony Kemp, Barry Harvey, Sam Stewart and George Lajpold played for Randwick while Sonny Whakarau, Mike Kuiti and Adrian Shelford played for Upper Hutt. Robert Piva played for St. George while James Leuluai joined the Petone club mid-season.


Minor premiers Halswell defeated Hornby 15-14 in the Canterbury Rugby League grand final. Hornby won the pre-season tournament.

Halswell defeated Cobden-Kohinoor to retain the Thacker Shield.

Brendon Tuuta, who had signed from Hornby, and Phil Bancroft played for Halswell, who were coached by Phil Prescott in his debut year. Ross Taylor, Barry Edkins and Mark Nixon played for Hornby, who were coached by Frank Endacott. Logan Edwards played for Marist-Western while Mark Broadhurst played for Papanui.

Other Competitions[edit]

The Portland Panthers dominated the Northland Rugby League competition, winning 21 matches in a row.

The Frankton Albions won the Waikato Rugby League title, defeating Huntly South in the final. Vaun O'Callaghan played for Huntly South while Frankton included Jason Donnelly.[9] Turangi won the Midlands grand final 5-4 while Kaiti dominanted in the Gisborne-East Coast competition.

In the Bay of Plenty Rugby League grand final the two form teams of the competition met, Ngongotaha and Pikiao. Ngongotaha, who included Mark Woods won 8-7. The Waitara Bears won the Taranaki Rugby League grand final, defeating Western Suburbs 26-12. The Omahu Huias defeated the Hastings City Tigers in the Hawke's Bay Rugby League grand final.

Runanga won its ninth consecutive West Coast Rugby League title, defeating Marist 12-8. Wayne Dwyer played for Marist while Jason Palmada, Glen Gibb and Bernie Green played for Runanga.

He Tauaa won the Southland Rugby League competition.


  1. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.28
  2. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.26
  3. ^ a b c d e 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.p.118-127
  4. ^ Lion Red 1988 Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1988. p.126
  5. ^ a b Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4.
  6. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.4
  7. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.20
  8. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.22
  9. ^ a b 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.p.128-130
  10. ^ 1987 Lion Red Rugby League Annual, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 1987. p.113