New Zealand Warriors winger Ken Maumalo found his love for rugby league in the heart of Mangere East at Southern Cross High School.
A Papatoetoe Panther and Mangere East Hawks junior, Maumalo has now played 50 games in the NRL and said he was a late bloomer to the game.
“I played 1st XIII back in college, I was always a rugby union player but our school’s league coach Rod Ratu asked me to give it a go as they were short on numbers,” Maumalo said.
It took one game for Ken to see a potential pathway to the NRL.
“I happened to play a game where, funnily enough, one of the boys who was already in the New Zealand Warriors’ squad had a scout come and watch him,” he said.
“After it, I was asked to come along to the Warriors development, at the time I didn’t think much would come off it, but I’m here now.
“This whole journey would not have happened if Southern Cross didn’t have the option to play rugby league in school, it was an opportunity I needed to take on,” he said.
Maumalo said his coach was a huge influence, seeing his potential early.
“Although we weren’t very successful in my years, I am happy to see their progress, now being back-to-back national champions,” he said.
“In 2016, I was able to be at the National Secondary Schools Competition where they beat Kelton Boys High School, it was even sweeter to rub into Kelston Boys old boy Tui Lolohea while holding the shield.”
“I would advise all schoolboys to work hard and take any opportunity that comes during college, you never know what could happen.”
Round 1 of the Auckland Rugby League’s SAS College Rugby League competition kicks-off on Wednesday, May 9.
Click here for the Premier draw
Click here for the Senior A draw (Note, kick-off for this competition is May 23)
Click here for the U15 draw
Words: Savannah Tafau-Levy
Photo: Bodie Friend