The Hibiscus Coast Raiders hosted a dinner and auction at their Stanmore Bay clubrooms on January 15 to raise money for their senior team’s upcoming season.
Master of ceremonies was Sir Peter Leitch, aka the Mad Butcher. Special guests were recently-retired Warriors and Kiwis legend Simon Mannering and former Warriors and Kiwis coach Bluey McLennan, who recently took up the head coaching role at the Raiders (HM September 5, 2018).
Sir Peter entertained and interacted with the audience of more than 100 people, using his unique blend of humour and tone to direct and interject on proceedings, often to hilarious effect. He talked to Bluey about his career and return to the Raiders, and they also regaled the audience with plenty of interesting stories about the 2005 and 2006 Rugby League Tri-Nations campaigns.
A range of rugby league paraphernalia was put under the hammer, mostly from Sir Peter’s private collection. Two signed Warrior jerseys fetched $400 and $790.
Simon spoke about his career, from leaving his Motueka home at an early age to his move to Wellington and later Auckland to join the Warriors. He also spoke about his time with the Kiwis, his decision to retire and his future plans – after playing 301 NRL games for the Warriors and 45 tests for the Kiwis over 13 years, Simon is taking a year off to go and live in Australia with his young family and relax.
Raiders prepare for Fox Memorial
The Hibiscus Coast Raiders Premier team will start its Auckland Rugby League season on Saturday, March 23, playing in the Fox Memorial Qualifying Series (formerly the Sharman Cup Premiership).
When the series finishes on June 22, the top four teams will progress to the Fox Memorial Championship, from June 29 to August 10, where they will be joined by the bottom four teams from the higher grade Fox Memorial Premiership Qualifying Series.
The teams that place from fifth to ninth at the end of the championship qualifying series will qualify for the Sharman Cup Premiership, while the teams that place from 10th to 14th will qualify for the Sharman Cup Championship.
Both Sharman Cup competitions will run from June 29 to July 27, with a top-four play-off starting on August 3. The grand finals will be played in late August.
Before the official season gets underway, Raiders will host Auckland Rugby League’s popular pre-season event, the Sportsafe ARL Nines on March 9.
This one-day tournament will see a number of the region’s top teams compete at Stanmore Bay Reserve.
A senior muster was held on December 18 last year for those wanting to play rugby league for Raiders. Selected players were given conditioning programmes to follow over the festive season before training resumes on February 5.
Although a few players have returned to the club, coach Bluey McLennan remains reticent about the teams’ chances for the upcoming season, at least until the conclusion of the ARL Nines.
“Apart from the coaching and conditioning of players, our main focus this season is to create an environment that supports the development of the players and the growth of the club’s community support base,” Bluey says.
“However, once the Nines are over, we should have a better idea of what to expect for the season.”