With rugby league in the region on the rise, Northland's Northtec Adam Blair Trophy is a perfect fit for encouraging high school kids to get involved.
The trophy contest, which kicks off tomorrow between North and South Zone high schools, will span six weeks and see the eight zoned teams compete against each other before crossing over for the semifinals.
Rugby League Northland general manager Alex Smits said this year's competition has an added carrot as players have the chance to play a match against the junior Warriors.
"We want to put a carrot out there for the better players," explained Smits. "To show that there is a pathway out there."
Even though this year's Adam Blair Trophy has three less teams than last year, Smits said that was because some teams had merged to create more even match-ups.
"What we've done is consolidated so we have eight strong teams [and started earlier in the year]. Moving to the earlier time has had its speed bumps, with school holidays and organising numbers, [but] the teams we've got are keen and motivated."
Smits said the smaller, but more hopefully more competitive competition, should test defending champions Whangarei Boys' High School as they look to score a hat trick of wins.
The match between the Adam Blair XIII and the junior Warriors will act as a curtain raiser for the opening round of the men's premier competition on March 30.
"We're hoping the Warriors being there, as much as it's the junior team it's still the brand, it'll draw a few people to our season-opener [in Kaikohe]," said Smits.
"There's a general buzz going round the clubs with where we're at so it's going to be exciting this year.
"I think it's the work we're doing in the community, we're just trying to streamline it and make it more professional."
Smits said there was a new website in the making as well as creating a new online registration process.
The winner of the Adam Blair Trophy will get automatic entry to the national secondary school competition.
North Zone schools taking part in the Adam Blair Trophy are: Northland College, Okaihau College, Kaitaia College and Aniwaniwa/Abundant.
South Zone: Dargaville High School, Kamo High School, Bay of Islands College and Whangarei Boys' High School.
Round one matches in the competition sees all games kicking off at 4.30pm, with Dargaville against Kamo at Dargaville, and BOI versus Boys' High at BOI. Also, Northland College has home advantage against Okaihau College, as Kaitaia College take on Aniwaniwa/Abundant Life at Kaitaia College.