Some of the former players who attended the 2016 ex-Kiwis' reunion. Back row (from left): Shane Varley

A collection of former New Zealand representatives featuring the amazing 93-year-old Ray Cranch and 12 former Kiwi captains gathered to share stories from yesteryear at the annual ex-Kiwis’ reunion in Auckland on Sunday.

Also among the band of brothers were former Kiwi managers as well as other staff members from previous Kiwi campaigns.

The highlight of the afternoon was a riveting presentation from 2005-2007 Kiwi Paul Whatuira (#705).

The Wainuiomata product had the distinction of achieving NRL grand final success with two different clubs – Penrith in 2003 and Wests Tigers in 2005 – as well as savouring glory with the Kiwis when they blanked the Kangaroos 24-0 in the 2005 Tri Nations final in Leeds.

Whatuira (35), now working in an education and wellbeing role with Wests Tigers, has had well-documented health issues with depression and psychosis.

He has been making a presentation to NRL clubs and many other organisations in Australia and New Zealand about his inner battles and how he has fought back from them through shunning medication and instead adopting a positive and natural way of putting his life back on track.

Yesterday represented another significant step in his new life as he stood in front of men who, like him, had worn the Kiwi jersey, the oldest of them Cranch, Roy Moore and Alan Riechelmann who were Kiwis as long ago as the early 1950s.

Whatuira’s address was compelling as he spoke about his struggles and his recovery, finishing it with an emotional, personal haka.

Among those in attendance were some of Whatuira’s former Kiwi team-mates. One of them was former Vodafone Warrior Louis Anderson, back home after finishing his fifth Super League season with Les Catalans Dragons in France before returning for one more season with the club in 2017.

Among the 13 former captains was the great Fred Ah Kuoi, now settled back home after spending many years with his wife and family in the United States.

A total of 10 ex-Vodafone Warriors attended.

 

EX-KIWIS’ 2016 REUNION | ROLL OF HONOUR

Ray Cranch (#341)

Roy Moore (#346)

Alan Riechelmann (#347)

Tom Hadfield (#375)

Keith Bell (#382)

Bill Hattaway (#392)

Don Hammond (#393)

Roger Bailey (#402)

Bruce Castle (#407)

Roy Christian (#435)

Graham Brown (#453)

Eric Carson (#463)

Paul Schultz (#434)

Don Mann (#492)

Richard Bolton (#499)

Graeme West (#517)

Fred Ah Kuoi (#522)

Dane O’Hara (#528)

Shane Varley (#543)

Toa Fepuleai (#545)

Nolan Tupaea (#557)

Hugh McGahan (#566)

Mark Bourneville (#583)

Shane Cooper (#584)

*Tea Ropati (#596)

Peter Brown (#600)

Tony Iro (#606)

*Duane Mann (#609)

Francis Leota (#618)

Paddy Tuimavave (#623)

Mike Patton (#625)

Jason Lowrie (#650)

*Ruben Wiki (#655)

*Tony Tatupu (#657)

Richie Barnett (#664)

*Stacey Jones (#665)

*Logan Swann (#669)

*Monty Betham (#691)

*Paul Whatuira (#705)

*Louis Anderson (#709)

*Shontayne Hape (#711)

  • Former captains in bold
  • Asterisk denotes former Vodafone Warriors