The Canberra Raiders Viking squad has returned after a successful tour of New Zealand. The Viking squad is a mix of players from the clubs extended pathways programs, aged 17-18 year olds, who participated in a 9 week program which has run post junior representative season.
The squad headed to Christchurch to play two matches against two Kiwi based oppositions. The Raiders Foundation proudly supported the trip and will look to continue funding projects like this as part of their ongoing support of development.
Raiders Elite Pathway Coach Chris Hutchison was one of the staff leading the tour and put together a report from the event:
Viking Squad Pathways Tour of New Zealand
What started 10 weeks ago with 20 kids in a gym, culminated with a trip to Christchurch last week to play two games in the South Island of New Zealand.
We flew out on Wednesday and after a brief stopover in Melbourne. We reached Christchurch just after 3pm. From there we traveled to our accommodation at Christchurch Boys High School and set up camp to watch the Origin and get some much-needed rest.
Thursday came and after a morning walk and stretch we headed to Rolleston to play the Canterbury 19s squad. They were big strong boys that never gave an inch, but our boys were fantastic in defence to hold them to one try running out winners 40-6. Try Scorers were Sam Griffin, Harvey Gay x 2, Ethan Alaiai x 2, Xavier Cacciotti, Mark Tuialii and Sam Gash. Sam Gash kicked 4 goals.
Best performers were Xavier Cacciotti (Player of the match), Ethan Alaia and Troy Codey. After returning to our accommodation, we watched our Raiders boys dominate the Origin 19s.
On Friday we had a recovery session before having the afternoon off. Some of the boys went into the city to have a look around while others went to the movies to watch Mission Impossible.
Saturday came and we had a light training run in soggy conditions before an afternoon off to rest and prepare for Sunday's games. Some of the squad went to watch the Christchurch Boys High First Fifteen Rugby Union team fight out a 24-19 win over rivals St Thomas. It was highlighted by both teams doing the haka in the lead-up.
An early start on Sunday saw us leave the accommodation at 8am and be at Rolleston for our game against the South Island Scorpions, a 18s Representative team. The Vikings Squad got out of the blocks quickly scoring in the first set and headed into half time at 30-0. The scoreline ended up being 42-0 but that did not indicate the toughness of the match. The Kiwi boys kept coming hard and fast, but the defence of the young Raiders was exceptional to repel them for the entire 80 minutes. Try Scorers were Ethan Alaia x 3, Lekani Mpaso, Brock Aploevski, Xavier Cacciotti and Mitch Brophy. Sam Gash kicked 7 goals. Troy Codey was named Player of the Match by the Scorpions.
Ethan Alaia was named Player of the tour by Raiders Staff.
The NZRL staff was full of praise for our boys on and off the field and hopeful that we can replicate the trip for many years to come. They see it as beneficial for the development of the game for their region and great relationship building between them and the Raiders.
We then headed back to Christchurch to jump on a plane back to Canberra via Sydney to end a memorable tour.
Thanks again to all of those involved and especially the Raiders Foundation for making this all possible. The program is an important steppingstone for our junior pathways and the value it adds to our community on and off the field will be felt for many years to come.
2023 Viking Squad team members
Game 1 v Canterbury 19s (40-6)
Harvey Gay x 2
Ethan Alaiai x 2
Sam Gash kicked 4 goals.
Xavier Cacciotti named Player of the Match by Canterbury
Game 2 v South Island Scorpions (42-0)
Ethan Alaia x 3
Sam Gash kicked 7 goals.
Troy Codey named Player of the Match by Scorpions
Ethan Alaia named Player of the tour by Raiders Staff.