Former Kiwi legend Nick Wright has returned to the rugby league field at the National Secondary Schools Rugby league tournament in Auckland, giving words of wisdom to schools battling it out for the top titles.
The Auckland rain didn't put off the heat as schools clashed for a final spot in the semi-finals, a game former Kiwi international and Ōtāhuhu player Nick Wright knows all too well.
"It's very humbling to come back and watch these young guys going around. At the end of the day, this week will determine the future and the careers of some of these players," says Wright.
Wright, now retired, formed part of the 1983 Māori international team that went undefeated with eight victories on the tour to the United Kingdom. Now residing in the Hokianga, he’s back in the big smoke for the tournament as a Māori Warden imparting his words of wisdom to the next generation.
"I talk to them about fitness. To play our game successfully, you've got to be fit because if you're naturally fit then your skill levels improve and you use the right skill at the right time."
This week, over 500 players from 24 schools across NZ have been competing in the Premiership and Development Divisions. Wright says the future of rugby league in NZ is in good hands.
"The generation of players now, they’re big, they’re fast and they're strong. That's one thing I've noticed. The forward packs are a lot more mobile, they’re a lot more organised. You'll get individuals that will stand out in the side, but a lot of the school teams are playing as a team and that's one thing good to see."
The competition concludes on Friday, September 8.