Counties Manukau legends lend names to AUT Scholarships

Two of Counties Manukau Rugby’s most famous sons are set to inspire the next generation of potential PIC Steelers after the Union today announced a new scholarship initiative and partnership with the Auckland University of Technology.

From 2021 onwards, the CMRFU will be looking to award two outstanding young rugby players with scholarships each year which will cover their fees and allow them to study at AUT’s renowned Business School providing they meet the eligibility criteria.

The scholarships have been named after former All Blacks skipper Kieran Read and the late, great Jonah Lomu, who was a dominant force for Counties Manukau in the late 1990s.

Scholarship winners will also be offered two-year contracts with the Union and given official Jonah Lomu merchandise to assist them as they make the transition from amateur to professional rugby.

“For us, these two scholarships will allow us to help develop two up-and-coming young players each year both on and off the field,” CMRFU CEO Aaron Lawton said.

“Jonah and Kieran are both Counties Manukau legends and to have them associated with this initiative is huge for us.”

For AUT, the partnership with the CMRFU is a great opportunity to provide talented athletes with a chance to better themselves through world-class education.

“AUT recognises and supports our students to combine the strengths of their non-academic skills with their tertiary education, and the Business School is the ideal place for high-achieving young people to succeed in both pursuits,” Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Business School, Professor Kate Kearins, said.

Nadene Lomu, the wife of iconic All Black Lomu, who passed away in 2015, said her late husband would have loved to see the CMRFU playing a part in helping young players with their education.

“Jonah’s sons, Brayley and Dhyreille and I are really happy to see Jonah’s name put to such an important initiative. In fact, it’s one of the many things Jonah and I were working towards,” Nadene Lomu said.

“Jonah would have loved to watch the next generation playing for the Steelers and this will help Counties Manukau keep some of our best talent.”

Read, who grew up in the region and played 128 tests for the All Blacks, said he wanted to do his bit to help young rugby players as they embarked on their professional careers.

“We want to grow and develop great talent from within our region and these scholarships will help make Counties Manukau attractive to young men with big futures in the game,” he said.

“Ultimately, it’s going to help the Steelers be successful on the field with home-grown players.”

The inaugural Jonah Lomu Counties Manukau Rugby Scholarship and the Kieran Read Counties Manukau Rugby Scholarship will be awarded in the coming months with the first two recipients to commence their studies at AUT in 2021.

Kieran Read CMRFU Scholarship here

Jonah Lomu CMRFU Scholarship here