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Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand gear up for Nines tournament

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Physical Disability Rugby League New Zealand (PDRLNZ) are gearing up to compete in the inaugural Physical Disability Rugby League Nines - the first international event of its kind - in conjunction with NSW Physical Disability Rugby League (NSWPDRL) at Waitemata Rugby League Club next month.

Teams from both sides of the ditch will come together to participate in a two-day tournament and will go head-to-head to claim the PDRL Nines title.

Chair and co-founder of PDRLNZ Sandra Hickey says it’s an exciting time for all involved.

"It’s a dream come true for a lot of these players," she said.

"Many of them have never held a passport [and] to travel to New Zealand to play rugby league is something truly special."

NSWPDRL will be welcomed by PDRLNZ when they touch down in Auckland on Wednesday night (November 1). Teams will get together for a training day on Thursday November 2 before the official opening and day one of the PDRL Nines on Friday November 3.

Four PDRL teams will take part in the competition with six games being played on each of the days. Teams will have a free day on the Saturday and return for the final day of the tournament on Sunday November 5.

Following the second round of pool play on Sunday, players will be encouraged to participate in the ‘Have a try’ event where skills and drills, photos and signings will take place before the grand final kicks off at 4.00pm.

PDRLNZ ambassador - and Vodafone Warriors prop - James Gavet has been supportive of both the players and the event.

Gavet - who was left with a broken arm following his stint in Round 19 of the 2017 NRL season - said his admiration for those playing with a physical disability increased ten-fold following his injury.

"To keep fit and to excel in a sport on top of your daily struggles is admirable," he said.

Hickey says James has been working hard to ensure the PDRL Nines is an event to be remembered for the players, their families and the fans of our great game.

"There are so many people who have been getting behind the Nines," she said.

"Without them, we would not be able to achieve this massive feat."

"I’d like to give a special thanks to Sir Peter Leitch for his overwhelming generosity to this tournament. He has gone above and beyond and we can’t thank him enough for all that he has done to ensure this event is a success.

"For us, the PDRL Nines isn’t about winning, but it’s a chance for players to spread the message of PDRL while making lifelong friendships.

"It’s going to be a great weekend and we look forward to seeing you all there backing our physically disabled athletes."


What: Inaugural 2017 Physical Disability Rugby League Nines

When: Friday November 3, Sunday November 5

Where: Waitemata Seagulls Rugby League Club, Ranui Domaln

NZ Players to look out for:

Brad Vear - Ngai Tai

Right arm amputee above elbow. Paralympian 1988. Winner of numerous touch national titles in various grades. 1991 World Cup NZ national touch player. 1999 NZ Men’s Touch World Cup player touring Queensland.

Leatuu Lee Ngauama - Tonga

Amputee left arm above elbow. Competed in many tournaments in Australia on the golf amputee circuit. Currently in his 11th year playing rugby league in the masters division. Strong on both attack and defence.

Gary Endacott - NZ born European

Born with cerebral palsy. Parents were told he would never walk. NZ and World Disabled Tennis champion - standing division. Completed in four New York marathons on foot. First physical disabled person to climb Mount Kiliminjaro. NZ Rugby League Sports Personality of the Year award recipient. New Years’ Honours list - MNZM. Winner of Corbett Ryan Pathway award. Has played rugby league for almost 30 years.

Michael Kulene - Kiribati

Left leg below knee amputee. Fit, strong and sporty young player. Played cricket, soccer, basketball and rugby for school. Para-rowing champion for North Island and NZ champs in 2013 and 2014. Tough player to stop on the field.

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