Hard yards ahead

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

While the rest of us have been en­joy­ing the sum­mer weather, North­ern United’s se­nior rugby play­ers have been sweat­ing it out as the new club sea­son ap­proaches.

Norths have their third coach in three years with Thomas Per­e­nara now at the helm. He has an ex­pe­ri­enced coach­ing team that in­cludes Steven Ba­chop and Richard Hig­gins, and is con­fi­dent his side will hit the ground run­ning come the first Swin­dale Shield match on April 1.

But the num­ber of play­ers turn­ing up for pre-sea­son train­ing is not as high as Per­e­nara would like.

‘‘We’ve got plenty of guys who are just fin­ish­ing up flag and touch foot­ball, and some of them now have na­tional and in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions in those sports. We’re not go­ing to get in the way of that but it does make it harder to get pre­pared for the new sea­son in a few weeks; there’s had to be a lot of ad­just­ment,’’ he said.

The core of the group that reached the Ju­bilee Cup semi­fi­nal last year are back for an­other tilt at Welling­ton club rugby’s sil­ver­ware.

Per­e­nara said Henry Smith, Dean Bruns­don and To­masi Palu are among the se­nior lead­ers but a num­ber of young play­ers will also get their op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘The Porirua basin is full of nat­u­ral tal­ent and there are some great kids coming out of the col­leges. But tal­ent only takes you so far and it’s im­por­tant we’re all on the same page in terms of what we want to achieve.’’

Although Per­e­nara’s son TJ and Hur­ri­canes’ squad mem­bers Faifili Le­vave and Eric Sione are un­likely to fea­ture, they will turn up to train­ing and games where pos­si­ble to sup­port their club.

Win­ning the Swin­dale or play­ing open, run­ning rugby on rock-hard turf is not on the new coach’s radar yet.

‘‘We’re all feel­ing our way a bit here. We’re de­vel­op­ing good pro­cesses, work­ing the play­ers pretty hard and each one knows what is ex­pected of them. We’ll cre­ate game plans for each op­po­nent we face. It’s an ex­cit­ing time for all of us at Norths.’’

Photo: FAIRFAX NZ

Norths leader: Flanker Dean Bruns­don, bat­tling through the Tawa de­fence last sea­son, will lead from the front for North­ern United in 2013.

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