If our 2016 squad is anything to go by, Northland certainly knows how to raise high-quality rugby players.
Kara Pryor, Matt Moulds, Jack Ram, Sam Nock and Namatahi Waa all played for Northland and have earned contracts with the Blues for 2016.
When the opportunity arises to train and play in the area, we like to make the most of it.
As part of the team’s preparation for Friday’s out-of-competition match against the Northland Barbarians, the players will travel north on Thursday morning to spend some time with the Whangarei community.
Our friends at Northland Rugby have line up visits to Manaia View School, St Francis Zavier School, Maungatapere School and Morningside School.
The Blues are looking forward to spending time with local kids, refereeing Rippa Rugby games, joining in with some sports games and skills and drills.
Later in the day, some of the squad will drop in to the Whangarei Youth Space, a youth-driven centre designed to give local teenagers and young adults a safe space to gather.
On any given afternoon during the week, kids can be found doing homework, playing cards or air hockey, and meeting with youth workers.
Blues players will be spending time with 40 youth and CCS kids from the community to play a few of their favourite games and help in the kitchen as the kids prepare food for a hangi on Friday.
Northland Rugby Personal Development Manager Tim Dow, who invited the Blues to visit WYS, said the centre attracts kids from all walks of life.
“They’ll have super smart kids from local schools using the space to do homework, while others will come because they don’t have a home to go home to and need a space to hang out,” said Dow. “The centre is helping youth build relationships across socio-economic barriers.”
“The Blues coming to WYS is a chance for these kids to meet good role models and to realise that the players are normal people too.
The Blues will round out our tour of Northland with a game against the Northland Barbarians on Friday night at Toll Stadium, kicking-off at 6.30pm. Tickets are available from the Northland Taniwha.
If you’re unable to make the trip north, live updates will be coming through the Blues’ Twitter account so you don’t miss out.