New coach re­laxed

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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