Big match first up
After months of training and several warm-up games, the club rugby season kicks off tomorrow.
Defending champions Ponsonby face a tough task in the first round when they take on last year’s beaten Gallaher Shield finalists Waitemata at Waitemata Park.
“Every time we go head to head it’s no-holds-barred,” Ponsonby coach Simon Scott says.
“It’ll be a good game but it’s always tough.”
Scott says they are still working on their combinations so early in the season.
But they could be boosted by the inclusion of Blues players Jay Williams and Winston Stanley who might be made available for club rugby depending on injuries that occur in the Super 14.
Ponsonby defeated Otahuhu 17-13 in the semifinal of the Waka Nathan Cup pre-season competition last Saturday, while Marist thrashed Te Papapa-Mt Wellington 57-7. The round 10 clash in June between Marist and Ponsonby will double as the Waka Nathan Cup final.
Meanwhile Grammar Carlton face College Rifles at Rifles Park tomorrow after choosing to skip the Waka Nathan Cup.
Grammar Carlton coach Brandon Jackson says the match will be a tough encounter, with several players defecting from last year’s premier reserve team to College Rifles this season.
“That will give them a huge amount of motivation.”
Jackson says having depth will be the key to success, with players that are successful often drafted into the Auckland Air New Zealand Cup side or other representative teams later in the season.
In other action Eden-Roskill face Suburbs at Gribblehirst Park and Te Papapa-Mt Wellington play University at Hamlin Park.
All matches start at 2.45pm.
Making a splash: New Zealand underwater hockey reps, from left: Alex Sigalas-Buchanan, Michael O’Neale, Stephanie O’Neale and Carly Black are set to take on the Aussies at the transtasman underwater hockey tourament in Melbourne.