Student's call out for junior rugby competition in Naracoorte

Call out: Naracoorte High School student Whatu Makaore has made a call out to The Naracoorte Jets Rugby Club about starting a junior competition. Photo: supplied.
Call out: Naracoorte High School student Whatu Makaore has made a call out to The Naracoorte Jets Rugby Club about starting a junior competition. Photo: supplied.

A Naracoorte High School student hopes his local rugby club will heed his call for an under 17 team to be introduced this season.

Student Whatu Makaore stressed to the Herald that clubs here and in surrounding areas are "lacking" teams for teenagers.

"Rugby would be a good off-season sport for majority of footy players as it would keep up their fitness and physical abilities," Whatu said in a letter to the newspaper.

A young Maori player originally from New Zealand, Whatu started tag rugby when he was just five years old.

Whatu mentioned how much he and his friends in Naracoorte would like to see an under 17 team come to fruition.

"Growing up in New Zealand playing rugby, being the biggest sport in the country, always had that hype to look forward to on that frosty Saturday morning," he said.

Whatu emphasised that rugby has played a significant role throughout his life and he has seen the impact the sport has on other people.

He spoke of how it has given him and his friends the courage to give other things a go.

"Rugby is more than a sport. It can bring families together and gain brotherhoods which you can hold for lifetimes," Whatu said.

"What makes rugby unique to me is the fast-paced, boost to upper-body strength, increases muscular strength, and also, without a doubt, the hard hits.

"You can be the littlest on the field and also be considered the best tackler all according to the technique you use."

Whatu finished by stressing why he thinks it will be great to have a younger side playing in a junior competition of some form.

"There are a heap of boys going into rugby without any skill," Whatu said. "I would want to get in contact with Naracoorte Jets' coach - the young boys around here are pretty keen to have a go - some of them have played in the past - they really enjoy the contact side of it."

Secretary of the Naracoorte Jets Mary Tate explained that the club has spoken with the National Rugby League South Australian board about the idea of a junior competition within the league, adding that the limited number of players has always been an issue.

"Numbers was an issue and so was trying to gain interest ... but, yes, there has been talk and it is just confirming numbers and getting the support of locals to start a junior league," she said.

She said the only other team the Jets played within the Limestone Coast was Mount Gambier with the other four teams being located in Victoria.

"The board has tried to establish a few more teams in the South East, but that has fallen through," she said.

"At this point, NRL SA has cancelled our season due to COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions."

The league runs its competition from the start of October and plays 10 rounds in 10 weeks, with Ms Tate explaining that in the absence of the competition this year, the Jets and the Blue Lake Knights from Mount Gambier are hoping to have a few games among each other this summer.

"It will be just to have the boys get together and having a bit of a run and keep the interest in the sport alive," she said.

"If any of those younger boys are interested in playing they would be more than welcome to train with our boys - they are always happy to pass on their knowledge."

Ms Tate stressed that the senior players will welcome junior players to their training sessions.

"We would be happy to hold a few training sessions with them and aim for next season, definitely," she said.