After being confirmed as one of four clubs in the new NRL women’s premiership yesterday, the Vodafone Warriors have today confirmed much-decorated former Kiwi Ferns captain Luisa Avaiki as their head coach.
In an illustrious international playing career from 1995-2009, Avaiki captained the Kiwi Ferns to victory in the women’s World Cup tournaments in 2003 and 2008 and was also in the title-winning team in the inaugural World Cup in 2000.
A Richmond Rovers club stalwart, she has gone on to fashion an impressive record in all areas of the game since ending her playing career.
As well as coaching women’s, men’s and boys’ teams at club and representative level, she worked for the Melbourne Storm as their games development officer and has been the New Zealand Rugby League’s well-being and women’s development manager since 2016.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Luisa as the inaugural head coach of our NRL women’s premiership side,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.
“It was a huge day being named as one of the four foundation clubs yesterday and it’s even more exciting to be able to announce Luisa’s appointment today. We were keen to move on this quickly as we seek to build our team.
“The new competition is taking the club and the women’s game into a completely new era which we’re so proud to a part of.”
Avaiki, who has also represented Samoa in rugby league, rugby union and touch, said she was humbled when given the opportunity to become the club’s first NRL women’s coach – and, it’s believed, the first woman to have a coaching position with an NRL club.
“Women’s rugby league has a long history in New Zealand but the introduction of this competition has taken our game to a whole new level,” she said.
“It’s a huge honour having the chance to take up this role.”
Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George, head coach Stephen Kearney, Smith and Avaiki addressed prospective players at Mount Smart Stadium tonight.
“For us, our women’s team will be just like our other three sides in the NRL, the Intrust Super Premiership and the Jersey Flegg Cup,” said George.
“They’ll strive to attain the same values we have for the club’s other teams.
“We are all about winning, about having a crack every time we play and making our members and fans proud.”
RUGBY LEAGUE ACHIEVMENTS
2016-2018 | NZRL well-being and women’s development manager
2015-2016 | Victoria women’s head coach
2014-2015 | Victoria under-16s assistant coach
2013-2014 | Victoria under-16s manager
2012-2016 | Melbourne Storm games development officer
2012 | Richmond Rovers men’s reserve grade head coach
2009-2011 | Richmond Rovers boys’ under-16s and under-18s head coach
Richmond Rovers men’s under-20s head coach (championship winners, named Auckland Rugby League under-20s coach of the year)
1995-2009 | Kiwi Ferns:
World Cup champions, 2008 (named in World XIII)
World Cup champions, 2003 (tournament MVP, named captain of World XIII)
World Cup champions, 2000 (forward of tournament)
1995-2012 | Richmond Roses (Auckland champions 10 seasons)
1995-2011 | Auckland Rugby League representative (nation champions 11 seasons)
Auckland Rugby League captain, 2001-2009 & 2011
1997 | Samoa women’s rugby league team (Pacific Cup winners)
2006 | Manusina (Samoa) women’s rugby union team (World Cup)
2002 | Manusina (Samoa) women’s rugby union team (World Cup)
1999 | Manusina (Samoa) women’s rugby union sevens team (Hong Kong Sevens)
1995 | Samoa women’s touch team (World Cup)
1994 | Samoa women’s rugby league team (Pacific Cup winners)