2002 New Zealand rugby league season

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The 2002 New Zealand rugby league season was the 95th season of rugby league that had been played in New Zealand. The main feature of the year was the third season of the Bartercard Cup competition that was run by the New Zealand Rugby League. The Mt Albert Lions won the Cup by defeating the Hibiscus Coast Raiders 24-20 in the Grand Final.

International competitions[edit]

The New Zealand national rugby league team played Australia at Wellington's Westpac Stadium in October and lost 24-32 before embarking on a five match tour of Great Britain and France. Coached by Gary Freeman the squad included: Monty Betham, Jason Cayless, Henry Fa'afili, Awen Guttenbeil, Lance Hohaia, Sean Hoppe, captain Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney, Ali Lauitiiti, Andrew Lomu, Francis Meli, Robbie Paul, Tony Puletua, Paul Rauhihi, Jerry Seuseu, Michael Smith, David Solomona, Richard Swain, Logan Swann, Motu Tony, Clinton Toopi, Matt Utai, David Vaealiki, Nigel Vagana and Ruben Wiki.

The New Zealand Māori rugby league team hosted Tonga at Rotorua International Stadium on 5 October, defeating them 50-6.[1] The team was coached by Bernie Perenara and included Chris Nahi, Aaron Heremaia and Jamie Cook.[2] The Tongan side had earlier defeated Auckland Māori 36-24 and the Waicoa Bay Stallions 38-30.[3] The Waicoa Bay side was coached by Tawera Nikau and included Andrew Leota.

New Zealand A toured France and the United States. They won matches against France A, France Juniors and the United States but lost 16-19 to France. The team was coached by Gary Kemble with Aaron Whittaker serving as trainer. The squad was Gavin Bailey, Wayne Barnett, Steve Buckingham, George Carmont, David Fa'alogo, Chris Faifua, Lee Finnerty, Daniel Floyd, Karl Guttenbeil, Eddie Hei Hei, Ricky Henry, Archie Ikihele, Tevita Latu, Phillip Leuluai, Jonny Limmer, captain Ben Lythe, Hutch Maiava, Fuifui Moimoi, Tyrone Pau, George Tuakura and Regan Wigg.[4][5][6]

Twenty six games were played between various New Zealand youth teams and equivalent Australian teams, with New Zealand winning twenty of them. Richard Bolton was the National Development Manager. Notable matches included the under-18 Junior Kiwis defeating the Wests Tigers elite training squad 34-26 and the Australian Institute of Sport side 58-10.[7] The Junior Kiwis were coached by James Leuluai, managed by Kevin Fisher and included Vince Mellars, Karl Johnson, Zebastian Lucky Luisi, Toshio Laiseni, Danny Bernard, Jerome Ropati, Thomas Leuluai, Evarn Tuimavave, Epalahame Lauaki, Kane Ferris, Roger Eliu, Louie Anderson, William Raston, Jason McDougall, Herewini Rangi, Andrew Auimatagi, Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Metcalf, Izraal Lo-Tam and Aoterangi Herangi.[6] Shaun Metcalf, Iosia Soliola, Rangi Chase, Samuela Moa, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Eliakim Uasi, Adam Blair, Dion Te Ahu and William Heta were included in the under-16 New Zealand side.

National competitions[edit]

Rugby League Cup[edit]

Otago defeated Tasman 42-28 to win the Rugby League Cup on 8 September.[8] Otago then defeated Canterbury "A" 52-34 and Southland 20-16.[9]

Bartercard Cup[edit]

The 2002 Bartercard Cup was the third season of the Bartercard Cup competition run by the New Zealand Rugby League. After the Ngongotaha Chiefs had withdrawn from the competition halfway through 2001 the New Zealand Rugby League had to consider the future of franchises. As part of this reorganisation the two Wellington teams, the Porirua Pumas and the Wainuiomata Lions both withdrew and were replaced by a combined Wellington Franchise. The Central Falcons, from Manawatu, and Taranaki Wildcats both joined the competition. 2002 saw the Mt Albert Lions win their first championship after an all Auckland final series.

The Teams[edit]

Seasons Standings[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
Mt Albert Lions 16 15 0 1 620 270 350 30
Hibiscus Coast Raiders 16 11 0 5 536 377 159 22
Otahuhu Leopards 16 10 0 6 636 393 243 20
Eastern Tornadoes 16 10 0 6 512 465 47 20
Marist Richmond Brothers 16 9 1 6 581 449 132 19
Wellington Franchise 16 9 1 6 547 449 98 19
Northcote Tigers 16 8 0 8 401 472 -71 16
Glenora Bears 16 5 2 9 394 515 -121 12
Manurewa Marlins 16 5 1 10 377 511 -134 11
Canterbury Bulls 16 5 0 11 386 531 -145 10
Central Falcons 16 3 1 12 330 586 -256 7
Taranaki Wildcats 16 2 2 12 334 636 -302 6

The Playoffs[edit]

  Qualifying finals Semi finals Preliminary final Grand Final
1 Mt Albert Lions 24  
    Hibiscus Coast 26         Hibiscus Coast 20
2 Hibiscus Coast 40     Mt Albert Lions 36   Mt Albert Lions 24
3 Otahuhu Leopards 16       Otahuhu Leopards 20  
Otahuhu Leopards 66
4 Eastern Tornadoes 22   Marist Richmond 16  
5 Marist Richmond 56
Match Winner Loser
Elimination Play-off Marist Richmond Brothers 56 Eastern Tornadoes 22
Preliminary Semifinal Hibiscus Coast Raiders 40 Otahuhu Leopards 16
Elimination Semifinal Otahuhu Leopards 66 Marist Richmond Brothers 16
Qualification Semifinal Hibiscus Coast Raiders 26 Mt Albert Lions 24
Preliminary Final Mt Albert Lions 36 Otahuhu Leopards 20
Grand Final[edit]

Around 5000 watched the match, the last played at Carlaw Park.[11] Sala Fa'alogo was the man of the match.[6]

Team Half-time Total
Mt Albert Lions 10 24
Hibiscus Coast Raiders 4 20


North Island Super Six[edit]

Coastline, Taranaki, Waikato, Manawatu, Bay of Plenty and Wellington competed in the North Island Super 6. Wellington and Manawatu did not select players from the Wellington Franchise or Central Falcons respectively.[25]

Team Pld W D L PF PA Pts
Wellington 5 4 0 1 223 162 8
Manawatu 5 3 0 2 232 172 6
Waikato 5 3 0 2 188 153 6
Coastline 5 3 0 2 169 174 6
Bay of Plenty 5 1 0 4 131 189 2
Taranaki 5 1 0 4 145 238 2

Waikato defeated minor premiers Wellington 46-30 at the Grand Final, held in Wellington.

Waikato were coached by Tawera Nikau and included Herewini Rangi. Manawatu included Rangi Chase and Weller Hauraki.[25] Taranaki were coached by Howie Tamati.

South Island Provincial Championship[edit]

Canterbury A, Otago, Southland, Tasman and the West Coast competed in the South Island Provincial Championship.

Otago won the title, defeating Canterbury A 23-22 in the Grand Final.

Phil Bergman played for Tasman.

Mainland Super Ten[edit]

The Riccarton Knights defeated the Linwood Keas 42-22 to win the Mainland Super 10 championship.

The Thacker Shield was contested as part of the Mainland Super 10, with the holder defending it at every home game.[26] In 2003 the Thacker Shield returned to its original once a year inter-district challenge format.

Super 10 Dreamteam; Fa'atali Sa (Papanui), Charlie Herekotukutuku (Kaiapoi), Clinton Fraser (Sydenham), Hamish Barclay (Riccarton), Sam Lemalie (Linwood), Josh Reuben (Kaiapoi), Aaron Whittaker (Riccarton), Leon Hallie (Otago), Andrew Auimatagi (Linwood), Mathias Pitama (Kaiapoi), Andrew Tallott (Hornby), George Taunga (Southland) and Corey Lawrie (Hornby). Coach: Brent Ringdahl (Riccarton).

National Junior Competitions[edit]

The Kiwi Cup was the National Junior Competition for under-18s and was held between Akarana, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Canterbury, Wellington and Manawatu. Akarana, who included Jerome Ropati, Epalahame Lauaki, Marcus Perenara and Evarn Tuimavave, defeated Counties-Manukau 42-22 in the final. Counties-Manukau included Toshio Laiseni.[7]

The Foundation Cup was the National Junior Competition for under-16s. The invited teams were Counties-Manukau, Wellington, Akarana, Canterbury, Waikato and Northland. Counties-Manukau, who included Kim Uasi and Willie Heta, defeated Wellington 28-6.

Australian competitions[edit]

The New Zealand Warriors competed in the National Rugby League competition. They finished as minor premiers and went on to make the Grand Final before losing to the Sydney Roosters 30-8.

St. Paul's College participated in the Australian Schoolboys Nutri-Grain Cup and made the quarter finals, defeating Erindale College 30-10 and St Dominics College 13-12, before being eliminated 10-6 by Patrician Brothers' College.[27] St Paul's had won a National Schools competition to qualify for the Nutri-Grain Cup, defeating Kelston Boys' High School 20-12 in the Semifinal and Aranui High School 16-6 in the Grandfinal.

Club competitions[edit]


The Hibiscus Coast Raiders won the Fox Memorial trophy, defeating Otahuhu 44-40 in double extra time.[6] The Papakura Sea Eagles won the Rukutai Shield (minor premiership).[11] Earlier in the season the Hibiscus Coast Raiders had won the Roope Rooster cup, defeating Marist 64-4 in the final. Ellerslie won the Sharman Cup while the Mount Wellington Warriors won the Phelan Shield.

The Hibiscus Coast's Willie Bishop won the Best and Fairest award and the Bert Humphries Memorial Trophy as best back in the competition. Junior Asiata from Otahuhu won the Bert Humphries Memorial Trophy as best forward while Papakura's Stuart Heslop won the Most Improved award. Asiata also won the Rothville Trophy as player of the year while Bishop was awarded the Lance Painter Rosebowl as top goal kicker. Otahuhu's Shane Dance won the Lipscombe Cup as Sportsman of the Year.

Papakura were coached by Kelly Shelford while Mount Albert included Carl Doherty and Manukau included Ben Vaeau.[28]


The Randwick Kingfishers won the Wellington Rugby League title, defeating the Wainuiomata Lions in the grand final.


Riccarton won the Canterbury Rugby League title, defeating Linwood 54-14 in the grand final.

Aaron Whittaker and Logan Edwards played for Riccarton. Kane Ferris played for Linwood.

Other Competitions[edit]

Turangawaewae and the Taniwharau Rugby League Club met in the inaugural Waicoa Bay grand final with Taniwharau winning 28-26.[29] Turangawaewae won the Waikato Rugby League Premiership. The Ngongotaha Chiefs defeated Pikiao to win the Bay of Plenty Rugby League competition. Te Paamu, who included Andrew Leota, defeated Kawerau 46-22 in the Coastline final.

The Waitara Bears defeated Marist 26-12 in the Taranaki Rugby League grand final.[30] Linton, who included Jesse Royal, defeated Levin 48-26 in the Manawatu Rugby League grand final.

Blenheim Central defeated Nelson 32-12 in the Tasman grand final while Suburbs won the West Coast Rugby League title by defeating Cobden-Kohinoor 28-20.


  1. ^ Awahou makes Maori side [dead link] Taranaki Daily News, 3 October 2002
  2. ^ Maori thrash Tonga New Zealand Herald, 6 October 2002
  3. ^ John Coffey, Bernie Wood (2008). 100 years: Māori rugby league, 1908-2008. Huia Publishers. p. 326. ISBN 978-1-86969-331-2.
  4. ^ Hei Hei's efforts rewarded [dead link] The Press, 16 September 2002
  5. ^ 2002 New Zealand 'A' Tour New Zealand Rugby League at Web Archive
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4, p.333.
  7. ^ a b New Zealand Rugby League Annual 2002, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 2002. p.182
  8. ^ Otago snatches cup from muddled Orcas[dead link] The Nelson Mail, 10 September 2002
  9. ^ Challenge for cup to be settled [dead link] The Press, 10 September 2002
  10. ^ Raiders recover and ease coach's pain [dead link] Sunday Star-Times, 5 May 2002
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Big game fitting Carlaw finale New Zealand Herald, 16 September 2002
  12. ^ Bulls coach keen to tackle slide [dead link] The Press, 6 May 2002
  13. ^ Must-win game again for Bulls[dead link] The Press, 14 June 2003
  14. ^ Hustling Henry nips Hibiscus in the bud for upset win [dead link] Sunday Star-Times, 21 July 2002
  15. ^ Players' return may save Cats[dead link] Taranaki Daily News, 17 August 2002
  16. ^ New Zealand Rugby League Annual 2002, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 2002. p.179
  17. ^ Edmonds out to bite Bears [dead link] The Evening Standard, 26 July 2002
  18. ^ Weepu, Puohotaua signed up to play for Central Falcons [dead link] The Evening Standard, 20 November 2001
  19. ^ Coaching swoop for Falcons [dead link] The Evening Standard, 7 November 2001
  20. ^ Falcons score the Lomax legend [dead link] The Evening Standard, 13 November 2001
  21. ^ How they rate in the quest for the Batercard Cup [dead link] The Press, 19 April 2002
  22. ^ Character counters size[dead link] The Press, 16 September 2005
  23. ^ Rare Chance for Bulls to Impress[dead link] The Press, 12 February 2002
  24. ^ Prescott calls for top Bulls effort[dead link] The Press, 23 March 2002
  25. ^ a b Wellington and Manawatu Teams Archived 4 January 2013 at Archive.today rleague.com, 20 September 2002
  26. ^ Riccarton beats Linwood to hold Thacker Shield [dead link] The Press, 15 April 2002
  27. ^ Coffey, John and Bernie Wood Auckland, 100 years of rugby league, 1909-2009, 2009. ISBN 978-1-86969-366-4, p.339.
  28. ^ New Zealand Rugby League Annual 2002, New Zealand Rugby Football League, 2002. p.190
  29. ^ Grand final a fitting end for tangi teams [dead link] Waikato Times, 25 August 2006
  30. ^ Taranaki Grand Final Countdown Archived 15 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine rleague.com, 11 July 2003
Preceded by
2001 Bartercard Cup
Bartercard Cup
Succeeded by
2003 Bartercard Cup