The Warriors came to Papamoa and the kids from Te Akau ki Papamoa Primary School loved it.

Four players from the Auckland based NRL club were in town as part of the club's League in Libraries scheme. It is designed to encourage children that reading and writing is hugely important in life, as well as being fun.

About 40 of the school's 600 pupils met with Warriors reserve grade players James Bell, King Vuniyayawa, Junior Pauga and Junior Warrior Keanu Laumatia-Paki for an hour at the Papamoa Library.

The students did some literacy exercises including solving anagrams of Warriors players (did you know HOUT SAIHRR equals Tohu Harris?) and identifying Warriors players' names on a grid of letters.


The reactions of the children amazed their teacher, school sports co-ordinator Andy Munn.

"They are just thoroughly engaged. They're loving it."

Munn says some of the 10-year-olds in the group had reading ages of as low as 6 and many also had behavioural problems, but this was a group of children paying attention and not being distracted for more than an hour while they worked through their exercise sheet.

The school knows plenty about sport.

It is the Bay of Plenty Rippa Rugby champion and is going to the national final in Wellington on September 10 and 11.

In all, the school has 19 Rippa teams, 14 basketball teams, four hockey and four netball teams.

Andy Munn, who also teaches a class as well as running the sports programme, says the school has just picked its first rugby league team.

"A lot of these kids are just sports-mad. They play rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday for the Papamoa clubs, so we'll get a school league team together to play a few matches."


After their loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast last weekend, the Warriors First Grade side is spending the week in Sydney with a match against the Dragons there on Sunday.

That's why the players in Papamoa were lower profile, but that didn't seem to make any difference to the kids from Te Akau ki Papamoa.

"It's cool," said 10-year-old Vinny Baggott.

Reserve grade player James Bell loved the experience.

"They're having fun and we're having fun," said the 24-year-old, who's trying to crack through to First Grade again after getting a taste of it with three matches in 2017.

Georgia Hale, the Warriors' community manager who was with the players in Papamoa, says the League in Libraries programme is just one of a number of initiatives the Warriors undertook to encourage children to lead a healthier life, both physically and academically.

It was a big day for Hale.

She was named in the Warriors Women's squad for the inaugural Women's NRL Premiership, which will run concurrently with the NRL Finals in September.