Two teenage boys have come back from Brisbane with stars in their eyes after attending All Stars Indigenous Youth Summit.
Tokoroa's Dane Clark and Matiu Love-Henry, of Taupo, were among the first Warriors representatives at the annual event, with the others being girls Savannah Matua (Manukau City) and Nikita McGruer (Tauranga).
The event is organised by the Australian Rugby League Commission to recognise outstanding achievement and application to education, culture and the community, with 64 Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) and New Zealand Maori students from all 16 NRL clubs selected.
The summit, featuring students from New Zealand and Melbourne for the first time, is held in conjunction with the annual match between the Indigenous All Stars and NRL All Stars, which was played at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Before they jetted off, Clark, 16, and Love-Henry, 17, had travelled to Auckland to meet the Warriors' staff and players, and also get a tour of the Mount Smart Stadium facilities.
As well as being chosen for the summit, Love-Henry was recently contracted to the Warriors' development squad.
The prop, who attended Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Whakarewa i Te Reo Ki Tuwharetoa and whose iwi affiliation is Ngati Tuwharetoa/Ngati Awa, previously played for the Taupo-Phoenix club but will now play his club football in Auckland.
Clark's iwi affiliation is Tainui/Ngati Porou. He is in year 12 at Tokoroa High School and plays in the second row for the Pacific Sharks under-17 team, who are the defending WaiCoa Bays champions.
At the summit the duo and the rest of the teenagers were put through numerous activities, including physical challenges, career-advice training and job interview sessions.
"We had our eight facilitators that took us for the week and they took us through some workshops," Clark said.
"The main thing was probably building confidence and good communication skills and teaching us life skills."
A major highlight of the trip for the youngsters was that they managed to meet the players on both of the All Stars teams.
"It was exciting to see my heroes, meeting them was a privilege," said Clark, who was bewildered by the size of his idol Greg Inglis.
Love-Henry's fondness of Timana Tahu escalated when the veteran centre took him and Clark out for dinner on Waitangi Day "to a flash as restaurant".
Love-Henry said he enjoyed the experience of mixing with people from different backgrounds.
"It was just great learning about their culture and all the struggles because it was similar to Maori culture," he said.
"And just meeting new people. The whole trip was just fun as."
- Waikato Times
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