Rico was a late comer to rugby league and initially started out in rugby. Rugby proved not to be Rico’s forte and after playing league in
2011 for the Tauranga Whalers (U12’s team) his latent talent for the sport glimmered though. Rico went on to be selected for Coastline U12’s team travelling to Wellington to represent Coastline. The following year playing for Tauranga Intermediate making the AIMS games team, and again Coastline representative squad travelling to Palmerston North.
Rico then headed over to Otumoetai Eels the following year and had a successful season there taking out Best Forward and Player of the year in the U13’s team. Unfortunately the following year, 2014 saw Rico suffer a set back by way of a broken arm (dinner fork break, straight through Ulner and radius) playing rugby at boys college and interrupting his ability to play rugby league.
By some stroke of luck, in 2015 Rico was selected again to play Coastline representative U15s, and from there was selected to trial for Waicoa Bay U15 squad. The trial was unsuccessful that season, however a good experience and presented Rico with a goal to make the cut the following year. During that year (2015) we were fortunate enough to come across Sons of Zion operating in Arataki headed by Baz Palmer, Chris Langley and Kelcy Taratoa. They were running high skills intensity trainings for any boys interested in rugby league. This off season training added a lot to Rico’s knowledge bank and skills.
2015 saw Rico in Otumoetai Eels again, also playing Coastline Rugby league.
Rico took up the opportunity attend a Bronco’s league camp in conjunction with Waicoa Bay in Easter of 2016 consisting of much testing, ball skills, motivational speaking and goal setting. Rico came away from that camp, a bit shocked from the gruelling two days of testing, but also determined to make the Upper Central North Island Academy for Rugby League. Rico also took up an opportunity in December
2016 to attend a Rabbitoh’s scouting camp which was highly beneficial and insightful. Rico was named in the Upper Central North Island U18s selection for the league academy in November 2016. As at today (23 Jan 2017), Rico has been named in the wider Rueben Wiki Cup Squad with the UCNZ Academy to be eligible for selection into the team that will play in Auckland during February and March 2017.
Much credit goes to those who have coached and supported Rico through rugby league thus far, (Jules Walker for organising Coastline), Pete Nicholas (previous coach- Eels/ Coastline) Brett Roger (prev and current assit coach Eels/ coastline) Vern Attwell (Eels coach 2016), Chris Langley (supporter and advocate – Sons of Zion/ UCNZ Coaching staff U16s), and the many other trainers and coaches, managers and organisers across the years. Rico has been lucky enough to benefit from the experience, knowledge and specialized training at SPEE training from Reece (and Vanita), and also from the other members who push and encourage him through the classes. (Rico was one of my main motivations to return to SPEE training gym). SPEE has enabled Rico to develop physical strength, focus and mental fortitude.
Besides rugby league, Rico has also been/ and currently is a Waka Ama paddler with Hoe Aroha Whanau o Mauao since 2012. Rico travelled to Rarotonga to paddle in Waka Eiva in 2013. He has paddled in Waka ama reigonals and Waka Ama Nationals since 2014, 2015 as a junior paddler, and this year 2017 paddling with the an open mens team. Rico has also paddled in the Secondary Schools National Waka ama competition since 2014,2015,2016, all successful years for the schools Rico paddled under (Te Wharekura o Mauao and Tauranga Boys college).
2016 Rico also attended the A1 Summer Hill Leadership Academy and graduated successfully during the year. Rico was exposed to some fantastic experiences, networking, learning and people. He also has a glowing reference for his CV. One of the highlights from A1 was the opportunity for a glider flight with Tauranga Gliding club and being given control of the glider for a few minutes whist in the air.
2016 Saw Rico pass his learners licence, get his first official paid employment with Go Bus during the weekends and pass NCEA level one.