After fears the sport may fold in the region, rugby league has been given a major boost with the birth of a new Nelson club.
The Stoke United Raiders will join the Tasman Premier League as the fourth senior side and see the former rivals become teammates.
Captain Simon Duncan says the side is essentially made up of former Wolves, Rabbits and Tigers players.
The Wanderers Wolves and Richmond Rabbits failed to make numbers in 2018 and were forced to fold.
After spending a season with the Wairua Taniwha, Simon says he got itchy feet to play for a Nelson team again.
“I got in contact with some mates that went to rugby or didn’t play last year, and it went from there.”
League stalwart Don Glenny was brought on board as head coach and the Raiders were born.
The team will be based at Greenmeadows, playing their home games at Ngawatu Park and will come under the United Softball umbrella.
“We got sick of sitting on the side-line,” Simon says.
Having been bitter adversaries over the years, the former Rabbits and Wolves players have a storied history.
“There were a couple of years where we just went at each other. The sides used to hate each other so much there would be fights.”
However, the animosity has been put to bed as players look to create a new dynasty with the Raiders.
Simon says the side boasts talent all over the park.
“We have a big forward pack and speed to burn.”
Having spent stints with the Tigers, Wolves and Taniwha, Simon is still chasing that elusive premiership.
“I want to change that for him,” says Don.
Don says they currently have a squad of 18.
“We have not poached any players, they have all come to us on their own accord.”
As United Softball Club president, Don was the perfect man to help get the Raiders off the ground.
“We can tap into the United resources, they have gifted us the playing shirts and that’s just the start.”