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Keith Hanley claims to be a coach more by accident than design, but 14 years down the track and he’s showing no sign of slowing down.

This month the Youth Guarantee kaiako from Te Rarawa led the Akarana Falcons rugby league club to win two grand finals in as many days.

He coached The Auckland premier team which beat Counties Manukau to win the overall national title, while the club’s Under-17 team beat the South Island Scorpions to win the National Youth Tournament.

It was Keith's third consecutive win as the U17 coach but his first year coaching the premier grade.

He says the results are quite humbling.

"For the Premiers, it's around re-establishing Akarana at this level. We had to work hard," he says.

"For the 17s it's also demanding, we set high standards of what's expected on and off the field and a lot of hard working players, staff and families commit to this process."

While he has taught young people Sports and Fitness at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for several years, Keith says he has also learned several lessons along the way.

"It's been a rollercoaster; I've certainly learnt a lot of stuff. It's a hard thing, the kids we're dealing with. Typically, secondary school's not for them so they're very fortunate to come here to get their NCEA Level 2. I know way more about the legal system than I ever did, and I did two years of law at Waikato (University)," he says.

Keith started playing rugby league in Ōtāhuhu before playing professionally in England and Australia. He's coached all age groups, the Auckland Māori and New Zealand Māori teams too.

He also has the role of coaching development for Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs NRL team and says working at TWoA has given him the ability to tap into tauira who show promise on the field.

The Māngere campus is often used as a training camp venue, with the next one planned in December for up to 18 young players. Keith says the results so far have been fair.

"Altogether through the years I've coached over 100 players who've gone to play Holden Cup. And about a third of those guys have played first grade in the NRL," he says.

"There's been lots of little wins."

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Published On: 25 Oct, 2016

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