Rugby league is getting a bit of a shake-up with North Shore finding itself lumped into the Auckland zone. John Landrigan explains how things will change.
Another reshuffle, another format - and another national competition that ignores the strength of North Shore rugby league.
A new national tournament is replacing the Bartercard Cup and splitting Auckland league into two distinct zones for the first time in its 101-year history.
But North Shore players will remain under the Auckland banner despite the past success of clubs such as the Hibiscus Coast Raiders, East Coast Bays Barracudas and Northcote Tigers.
Seven rugby league zones were created as a result of a New Zealand Rugby League review by Sport and Recreation NZ (Sparc) in 2008. Shore club players will pit their skills for Auckland against a South Island selection, Wellington, two central North Island teams, Counties Manukau, and Northland.
Initially, North Harbour players were to be part of the northernmost zone.
Northland, with only 10 teams to choose from, may struggle in the competition after Auckland Rugby League blocked that merger in the courts to reduce the financial impact of a three-way split.
The Bartercard Cup was the top-level club competition from 2000-07 with a total of 24 clubs or franchises.
Harbour League formed in 2006 from several Harbour clubs to reduce the number of teams in the competition. Now, Harbour League doesn't exist.
Owen Kirby, long-time president of Hibiscus Coast Raiders, is disappointed there's no team flying the North Shore colours. "Everyone has been in the dark about the process," he says.
Kirby says many clubs, including the Raiders, were struggling financially in the Bartercard Cup and he agrees with limiting the number of teams.
However, he says a split from Auckland and an eight-team competition should not be discounted in the future. "The Shore is growing. Whangaparaoa Peninsula is all about league. No doubt about that."
Sadly, the 2001 Bartercard Cup champions are not performing well in the Auckland-wide Fox Memorial Shield this year and have no representatives in the Auckland rep team. The 25-man squad does have seven players from Northcote Tigers and two from East Coast Bays Barracudas.
An under-15 selection will play for the Nathan Cayless Cup, under-17 for the Mark Graham Cup and premiers for the Albert Baskerville Trophy.
Aces of clubs
The following players have been selected for the Auckland squad to contest the new competition. Two players were to be added after
went to print.
: Aaron Booth, Karl Edmondson, Tee Mahi.
: Damon Trott, Jarrod Trott, Dylan Moses, Ray Wallace, Tone Talau, Vilami Tauiuvea and Joe Vaifale.
: Dylan Davis, Malo Solomona, Ralph Ah Van, Suiaia Matagi and Shaun Metcalf.
Te Atatu Roosters / Auckland Vulcans
: Pita Godinet and Sialii Tafeao.
Mt Albert Lions
: Guenther Schaumkel, Saulala Houma, Trent Wallace and Joel Freeman.
East Coast Bays Barracudas
: Tane Hart and Pauvau Samoa.
League of their own
Seven teams play in the new tournament, each playing six games. The top two teams after the round-robin will play off to decide the champion. It starts on Sunday.