East Tamaki rugby on high
‘‘I always say that winning begins at the front office. You get the front office working right, winning will follow.’’
East Tamaki have just had a rugby season to remember.
Their premiers recently won Auckland club rugby’s Portola Cup for the first time, their premier development side were beaten semi-finalists in the Peter Fatialofa Trophy, and their under-20s made the championship semis of the Challenge Cup where Papatoetoe beat them 15-3.
It’s the first time East Tamaki has had so many teams involved in playoffs and particularly pleasing has been the way the under-20 and development teams have performed.
President Frances Leilua says it’s time East Tamaki raised the bar.
‘‘It’s time to set our sights on the Gallaher Shield next season and see how we go.
‘‘The club is happy at winning the Portola Cup for the first time and what our under-20 and premier development sides have achieved. We have to build on this.’’
Leilua says he was always confident East Tamaki could beat Papatoetoe in the Portola Cup final, the result being 31-10.
‘‘I always knew the guys could do it. They trained well for the final against Papatoetoe who’d beaten us in the final round of the Portola. We blew a huge lead in that game. Lapses in concentration cost us that day.’’
Leilua says the way East Tamaki bounced back in the final is a tribute to coach David Usu and his coaching staff.
Usu says the win had a lot to do with what happened off the field.
‘‘I always say that winning begins at the front office. You get the front office working right, winning will follow. This win is a result of developments that have happened behind the scene.’’
He says the success of the premiers, premier development side and the under-20s is evidence that players who grow up in East Tamaki and Otara need not go elsewhere to play their rugby.
‘‘These results are encouraging and I’m really looking forward to next year to see how many players we can attract.’’
Usu, who has been with East Tamaki for three years now, tapped No 8 George Crichton as East Tamaki’s most valuable player of the finals and player of the year.
Crichton scored four of East Tamaki’s five tries in the final. Toelau Silipa got the other, and Timoteo Iosua kicked three conversions.
East Tamaki premier grade players and supporters after they beat Papatoetoe 31-10 to win club rugby’s Portola Cup.