Aranmore Catholic College has long held a reputation as one of Western Australia’s most prestigious rugby schools and the school’s high quality rugby program is bearing fruit with three former students now playing for the Road Safety Western Force.
2011 graduate Kane Koteka was the first Aranmore product to debut for the Force when he ran out against the Hurricanes in 2015 and this season is joined by Chance Peni and Curtis Rona after they returned home following successful stints in rugby league.
Koteka says the school’s rugby program was instrumental in getting all three players to the professional level.
“Aranmore was a massive part of our journey for all three of us in those early days,” he said. “It’s a rugby school so that’s pretty much why all of us went there and it definitely helped us get to where we are today.”
“There was such a strong bond between all the guys on the school team because it was just a bunch of mates going to school together and having fun playing footy.
“Once we started making state teams and development teams we would pretty much spend all day together, going to school and then a big group of us would all head to training together and then school the next day.”
Koteka says he knew there would be a group of Aranmore students pulling on the Force jersey one day.
“Curtis (Rona), Chance (Peni) and I all played first XV together. They (Peni and Rona) both took their own path through rugby league but to all be together at the Force now is awesome.”
“We always thought that there was going to be a few of us that would make it to Super Rugby level because there were so many talented players at the school. To have three of us in the same team this season is pretty unreal.”
Aranmore Head of Rugby Dwayne Grace says having three players at the top level is a testament to the quality of the school’s rugby program that has been developing for years.
“Over the last 12 years we have been building up our rugby program with the aim of creating professional players,” he said.
“Curtis going to the NRL was big for us, then Kane became our first Super Rugby player and now with Chance and Curtis back at the Force it’s great to have three former Aranmore students playing professionally in WA.”
Grace says he could tell from a young age that Koteka, Peni and Rona had the drive to succeed and says it should serve as inspiration to current and future Aranmore students.
“It was clear that these guys had it in them to make it to the professional level because they had the work ethic and the drive to achieve their goals. Bringing these guys back home is a big boost for rugby in WA and for our own program.”
“It shows that if you work hard enough you can get there, they are our first three Super Rugby players and hopefully there will be plenty more. The boys will actually be doing a jersey presentation to the school and speaking to the students in our program about their experiences.
“At the end of the day we just want to give the boys and girls in our rugby program every opportunity to go to school and play as much rugby as they can and allow them to take it as far as they want to.”