Maori Television - School of Hard Knocks Premieres June 7


They’ve got the talent but have three young rugby players got the mental toughness, stamina and that special X factor to make it through New Zealand’s toughest sporting academy? Find out when Maori Television’s new series of SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS premieres on Thursday June 7 at 8.00 PM.

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS follows the progress of three young Maori athletes as they participate in the International Rugby Academy’s twice yearly high-performance players’ course at the Sport and Rugby Institute at Massey University.

The three players are Matenga Baker from Otaki, Ariki Henry from Omaio and Turoia Kuka from Tauranga.

The three-week course in Palmerston North exposes about 30 teenage players – usually two from each position and from throughout the world – to some of the best New Zealand and international coaches and former players.

They include current All Blacks coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, former Wallabies skipper John Eales, and greats of the game such as Frank Bunce, Grant Fox, Jeff Wilson, Graham Mourie, Richard Loe, Shane Howarth, Aaron Pene and Ian Jones.

The academy, headed by former All Black Murray Mexted, is in its sixth year of operation at the Sport and Rugby Institute where it offers courses for coaches, managers and players.

Ariki Henry (Te Whanau-a-Apanui), 19, is a second five-eighth who recently left Rotorua Boys’ High School and has had three seasons in their 1st XV. Ariki says the academy is “awesome” and the Sports and Rugby Institute facilities are “probably the top in New Zealand”.

Turoia Kuka (Ngai Te Rangi), 19, now living and studying in Auckland, plays prop and also spent three seasons in the 1st XV at Kings College, Otahuhu. Last year, he was in the Auckland Rugby Union Academy.

Matenga Baker (Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai) is an openside flanker who played three seasons for Otaki College’s 1st XV, two of those as captain.

Is it the beginning of a professional dream for these youngmen, or a rude awakening? Find out in Maori Television’s SCHOOL of Hard Knocks screening Thursday nights at 8.00 PM from June 7.

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