Clubs fire up for start of McNamara Cup
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.
Fotu Lokotui will return from injury to play for Patumahoe this season.