BURIED deep in the Australian rules heartland of south-west Victoria, a New Zealand-turned-Warrnambool man is bringing the game of his homeland into the regional sporting landscape.
Jonthan Hukatai has formed the Warrnambool Raiders Rugby League Club in an effort to grow the game in a region in which it was previously non-existent.
The Raiders are set to contest their first clash in the Limestone Coast Summer 9s competition on Saturday, with months of hard work managing to pull a band of dedicated players and volunteers to the cause.
Hukatai said about 18 players had flagged interest in running out for the club.
“We’re getting some guys that are very keen. I think with how strong (Australian rules) footy is with two leagues over winter, people might not have a lot else to play over the summer other than cricket,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get more people to come and play rugby league.”
As the club president, Hukatai said the Raiders would face off against Mount Gambier side Blue Lake Knights for their first clash.
He said the Warrnambool club was the only Victorian club in the competition, with two Mount Gambier teams and a Naracoorte side making up the competition. The game kicks off at 2pm.