Clubs fire up for start of McNa­mara Cup

Franklin County News - - SPORT - JOHN BOYN­TON

It’s time to get wrapped up in the 2017 rugby sea­son as Coun­ties Manukau Rugby club com­pe­ti­tion kicks off this week­end.

The McNa­mara Cup premier one com­pe­ti­tion fea­tures 10 teams from across the re­gion, with three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Bom­bay look­ing to claim their fourth straight McNa­mara Cup ti­tle.

In the Coun­ties Power game of the week, Bom­bay will take on Onewhero at Bom­bay at 2.45pm this Satur­day.

Bom­bay coach Jeff Marr said 2016 was the team’s tough­est cham­pi­onship winning cam­paign so far.

Last year a to­tal of 43 play­ers were used and Marr said he ex­pected to draw from a large pool of tal­ent this year as well.

‘‘We want play­ers in the re­serves push­ing our pre­miers and we want our premier play­ers push­ing each other on.’’

Play­ers to look out, Marr said, in­cluded tight-head prop Kalolo Tuiloma and backs Sam Vaka and Tu­lolo Tu­lolo.

‘‘The for­ward pack has al­ways been our strength, but this year we felt we’ve re­ally com­pli­mented it with our backs.’’

Ard­more Marist coach Saua Leau­pepetele will be re­turn­ing for his sec­ond year in charge of the squad.

Last year they were nar­rowly beaten in the McNa­mara Cup fi­nal by Bom­bay, and Leau­pepetele said Ard­more Marist had re­tained 80 per cent of last year’s squad.

‘‘Coach­ing in my sec­ond year, a lot of the things we’ve put in place prior so it’s not new teach­ings for the boys to process.’’

The team has also re­cruited first-five Solomona Paraki and prop Ses­i­mani Tupou, who both fea­tured for North­land in the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.

Karaka coach Craig Hill said he had lost a few play­ers from last sea­son’s team.

Play­ers to look out for in 2017 in­cluded out­side back Jonah Re­fiti who re­turns for an­other sea­son and Or­byn Leger, when he is avail­able from New Zealand un­der 20s duty.

‘‘Th­ese young guys that are get­ting an op­por­tu­nity, this year is about get­ting regular premier game time,’’ Hill said. ’’It’s just a chance for the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of their games.’’

Pukekohe coach Vil­iame Seti­taia said the squad was track­ing well af­ter three pre­sea­son hit outs.

Con­tin­ued P38

RICHARD SPRANGER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Fotu Loko­tui will re­turn from in­jury to play for Pa­tuma­hoe this sea­son.

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