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Former Mormon Missionary Makes Mark on Rugby Field

Christchurch New Zealand-based member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Luke Katene is being recognized after his impressive performances in the 2012 ITM Cup playing for rugby club, Canterbury.

Luke, who arrived to play for Canterbury on the day of the February 2011 earthquake, has been going from strength to strength in the 2012 ITM premier league as an excellent support player. 

After spending most of 2011 on the bench with injuries, Luke, 26 has been busy proving his value to the Canterbury team scoring the opening try against Wellington in Canterbury’s recent winning game.  

Katene played New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby and went on to be part of the Waikato Academy when he applied to serve a two-year mission for his church.  

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Luke chose to spend two prime rugby-playing years teaching others about Jesus Christ in Sydney, Australia.  

Luke Hatene

Although there were career opportunities Luke missed out on during this time he says he wouldn’t have changed a thing.  “I always planned on serving a mission and I learned so much about myself during that time that has helped me keep perspective since I returned,” he said.  “The experiences of that time are invaluable, not just spiritually but practically too.” 

On his return to New Zealand after his mission, Katene went to play for Bay of Plenty where things didn’t go quite to plan.  

“My mission taught me to look for opportunities when things weren’t going well,” he said.  “I’ve always had the attitude that if rugby didn’t happen for me I always had my mission to fall back on, though there are plenty of examples of members who have served their missions and returned to good rugby careers. These men have provided the pathway for someone like to me to follow.”

With an eye for positive rugby opportunities, Luke signed to Canterbury and has been playing for Sumner club since he arrived.  “My mission taught me you should always have a Plan B.  So I made sure to make time for my education – rugby isn’t the only option for me.” 

Luke is studying to become an accountant at the University of Canterbury.  


This Waikato boy’s ambition is to gain a Super Rugby contract and he hopes it can be with the Crusaders.  Canterbury coach Tabai Matson believes Katene can step up. 

"He's been outstanding,” he says.  “He's a genius in the lineout and been really effective. We do a lot of stats around work-rate and around the tackles you don't see. 
He's leading the tight forwards in the tackle count and he's a very skillful player. He's definitely a guy who could push on to higher honours so it's great he's got a full ITM Cup under his belt to promote himself."

Patience, keeping an eye focused on his goals and seeking opportunities just as his mission taught him to do bodes well for Luke Katene.  “My mission experiences are worth more than anything rugby could offer. Even if rugby didn’t happen for me after serving my mission it was still worth the sacrifice. The whole two years was a time of personal growth with heaps of spiritual experiences.”

“The great friendships I made with the others serving with me and seeing the changes people made in their lives as they embraced the gospel has been a source of strength going forward whatever happens in my rugby career.  I wouldn’t have a changed a thing.” 

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