Two All Blacks greats are behind a new initiative to develop players at Counties Manukau off the field with Jonah Lomu and Kieran Read now having university scholarships in their name.
The AUT scholarships in their names ensuring excellence off the field as well as on it.
“The opportunities are here because the talent's here and so it's been able to harness that and put it into the right pathways, I think is the key, especially once guys leave high school and leave school from this region I think you can be a little bit lost because you know maybe the pathways aren't quite there,” Read said.
Lomu’s widow Nadene says the late All Blacks great would have been proud of the scholarship.
“I know that without a doubt that Jonah would be really proud for something like this to execute in his name,” she said.
Every year, two students from the Steelers will have a full year's worth of fees paid for at AUT's business school.
It's a way of creating better people while keeping their rugby talent in the region.
“Some of our best players, they leave our region and they go to say Auckland and they don't come back so we really have to work quite hard to try and put something together that's actually going to get them back here. we want local lads playing for the Steelers,” Counties boss Aaron Lawton said.
Fittingly the Read and Lomu scholarships will be launched tomorrow when Counties play Wellington for the Lomu Memorial Trophy.
His sons Brayley and Dhyreille running out the game ball
“I've got a promise to keep to Jonah and as the mother of his sons it's really important that I do carry on with his lasting legacy so we're working on some really exciting projects,” Nadene said.
One project his sons have decided on is a potential career in tennis, something they've been quietly working away on with their coach, grandpa Merv.