FORMER Australian and State of Origin representative Aaron Raper has been announced as the new head coach of the GYG Latin Heat – Latin American Rugby League’s elite team.
Son of Immortal John Raper, Aaron played more than 150 first grade games for Cronulla, Parramatta and Castelford.
He will steer the Latinos into their September 30 Battle of the Americas against a combined USA and Canadian team at St Mary’s, west of Sydney.
Raper assumes the role from Argentinian Gabriel Keegan, who stepped aside in April due to family health issues.
The Latin Heat wanted to make a clear statement with the appointment of its next coach, reflecting the growing level of professionalism within the organisation.
In recent years the Heat has enjoyed several wins at international level against Thailand Stars, Portugal and Japan, but still remained short of other developing nations such as the Philippines, Niue, Greece, Malta and Serbia.
Raper will bring experience from not only his ARL and Super League playing career, but also as a coach in the Illawarra League and of the Cronulla Sharks Jersey Flegg side.
To preserve objectivity, Raper will be given total control of the selection of his squad, which can call on heritage players from 24 non-traditional rugby league nations in South and Central America.
Players born in the following nations, or with parents or grandparents born in these nations, can qualify for the Heat: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Those interested in expressing their availability can contact LatinHeatxiii@gmail.com
Raper’s appointment follows some exciting developments for Latin American Rugby League in the past month including:
- The first full international 13-a-side match between two Latin American nations – Chile and El Salvador, held at Newtown, Sydney.
- The election of Daniel Godinez as the new Latin Heat president, taking charge of a more formalised committee.
- The increasing likelihood of domestic players from Argentina, Brazil and Chile playing a three-way tournament in Miramar, Argentina in November.
The efforts of the 100% volunteer-run Latin Heat Rugby League are supported by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, S.H.I.E.L.D Security, Tattoo Tears, OneBigSwitch.com.au, Jani-King Cleaning, SeriousAboutRL.com, Rugby League Team Manager 2015 computer game, Retrocom Digital TV Specialists, Colombianos en Brisbane, Link Australia Student Services, Raw Juicery, SEMCAR Mechanics, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, Cast Graphics, Cabramatta Ink, Majestic Property Maintenance, musician Royal El Latino and Darkside Studio Photography.