Rugby rallies support as one of its favourite sons battles cancer

Ōtaki and the wider Horowhenua-Kāpiti rugby community is rallying around in support of one of its favourite sons in a time of need.

Former New Zealand Māori All Black and Hurricanes player Sam Doyle, 50, has only recently been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood.

The Ōtaki and wider rugby community has been quick to show their support for Doyle, his wife Tracey, and their four daughters, Kara, Kotuku, Wikitoria and Raukawa, as he went into hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

Doyle, who was coaching the Rāhui side in the senior competition this season before the illness struck, had represented Hurricanes, Manawatū, Wellington and Horowhenua during a stellar playing career.

A brilliant running fullback who could play anywhere in the backline, he also played for NZ Māori All Blacks, NZ Colts, and the NZ Divisional XV.

Sam was an inaugural member of the Hurricanes in 1996, and its former players had been involved in supporting fundraising and a Give-a-Little page had been set up to help the family.

A rugby festival has been organised for Ōtaki Domain later this year, too, and it is fitting that the double header will involve Manawatū Turbos, Wellington Lions, Horowhenua-Kāpiti and Wairarapa Bush teams.

Rāhui Football and Sports Club club captain Makaore Wilson said Doyle had always been loyal to Rahui, so the club wanted to do what it could to support one of their finest.

“Sam Doyle is a huge part of the Rāhui and Ōtaki community. He has been a loyal club member since he was young, and he is one of our most successful and respected representatives.”

Doyle played for Rāhui in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2012, he had coached 1st XV rugby in the community, and was premier coach the past two seasons.

“We are proud to have Sam as a leader within our club, and Rāhui will support him and his whānau 110 per cent,” he said.

“We would also like to acknowledge the tautoko/support of the HKRFU, WRFU, and MRU for this event, it is greatly appreciated. Nei rā ngā mihi nui ki a koutou.”

Horowhenua Kāpiti Rugby Football Union CEO Corey Kennett said Doyle had been a huge part of HK rugby and it made sense to play the fixture at Ōtaki.

“We thought a fantastic way of showing our support for Sam was to organise a day for him involving all three provincial unions that he represented.

“It made perfect sense to have the day at Ōtaki Domain, his home ground. Sam has been a huge part of our rugby community for a number of years and we’re really looking forward to a great day in Ōtaki.

“With Sam playing for Manawatū, Wellington and Horowhenua Kāpiti among many other teams, this will be a special day for Sam, his whānau, and the Ōtaki community.

“I’d like to thank Rāhui RFC and all the teams involved.”

The PGG Wrightson Cup will be played for between Horowhenua Kāpiti and Wairarapa Bush. Wairarapa Bush are the current holders after beating Horowhenua
Kāpiti in Masterton last year.

Wairarapa Bush Heartland team manager Shay O’Gorman is looking forward to an exciting day of rugby.

“From our point of view, we are very excited to be involved in the fixture, to be supporting the cause for Sam, and to continue the great relationship we have with Horowhenua-Kāpiti.”

Manawatū Rugby Union chief executive Shannon Paku said he felt honoured to be part of the day.

“Manawatū Rugby are grateful to be able to play a part in helping Sam, Tracey and the
whānau through these challenging times.

Sam Doyle and his wife Tracey.
Sam Doyle and his wife Tracey.

“As a Hato Pāora College old boy, Freyberg RFC and Manawatū Rugby rep at various levels, Sam will always be part of our Manawatū Rugby community…we wish him all the best with his battle and recovery.”

Wellington Lions manager Mila Poutoa was excited for the Lions to be showing their support, too.

“Our Wellington Lions are ecstatic to be a part of Sam’s big day. Sam played four seasons with Wellington and managed to attain 30 caps for the Lions during that time,” he said.

“Sam has been a great servant of not only Wellington Rugby but rugby as a whole and we wish him all the best during these tough times.”

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