New coach relaxed
He’s taking the mantle at one of the most successful rugby league clubs in the region but Peter Rikiriki is not letting the hype get to him.
The former Petone Panthers coach took control at the Porirua Vikings after the sudden departure of Dave Lomax late last year. He has a young squad at his disposal, shorn of a number of experienced faces but he is savouring the challenge.
Rikiriki opened his account with a 38-18 win over last year’s grand final winners Te Aroha at Porirua Park on March 30, coming back from an 18-12 half-time deficit.
‘‘It was a good win, a bit of a relief, actually. We have plenty of young players that are keen but there’s plenty to work on.’’
Rikiriki is also the Wellington Orcas under-18 coach and puts a lot of emphasis on cultivating a strong base of junior players.
‘‘ I was attracted to come here because of their senior set-up but there is great potential for development as well. I realise there is pressure because of that expectation around winning every game [and] I’m glad to get that first one out of the way.’’
Rikiriki played with the Upper Hutt Tigers from a young age until his ‘‘ninth or 10th’’ concussion saw him give the game away – at least as a player.
‘‘I’m probably a bit different to other coaches. I see myself as part of the team as opposed to dictating what is to happen and I think that creates a positive atmosphere. I want to facilitate and support the players to achieve and that will get results.’’
Experienced heads like Frank Rameka and Anton Wereta have moved on but he is grateful to have Jay Bolstad, Rocky Masoe and Sheldon Akavi on deck.
Taking charge: Peter Rikiriki is set to begin his first season as Porirua Vikings’ premier coach.