Vikings looking good
There is a buzz around Porirua Vikings’ senior training as the new rugby league season draws near.
Players don’t need to be reminded that the highly-fancied club has not won a title since 2010, coach Peter Rikiriki says.
‘‘They’ve been working hard, we’ve had a few playing flag football [ over summer], but the numbers at training have been better than they were this time last year.
‘‘You can see the work’s been put in, some of our big boys have dropped a few kilos. Losing to Wainui in the semifinal [ last season] hurt, especially after we beat them all year, so we’re not lacking motivation.’’
Rikiriki did not let his charges touch a ball for the open weeks of training, ‘‘ just running and circuits’’ were the order of the day. Getting systems, teamwork and the fitness up is crucial at this point, he says.
They put their pre-season work into practice in front of a good crowd at Creekfest on March 9, walloping their St George Dragons counterparts 66-18 on a hard and dusty Cannons Creek Park.
Porirua will play to their strengths this season, Rikiriki says, utilising pacy backs and a massive forward pack. Defence has become paramount.
‘‘Our tackling around the edges [of rucks] was not good last year, other teams targeted our fringes and we are working to fix that. We have the wood on most packs so we’ll play to that strength – this club has some great forwards and there are players coming through, creating competition too.’’
Rikiriki intends to unleash some teenagers, including one young player from the SG Ball competition who will play in the second row or centres. Along with youth, the core of the Vikings premiers will be fronting up once again, including Jon Masaga, Rocky Masoe, Greig Dean and Va’a Kirisome.
The attack will again hinge around standoff Anton Wereta.
Rikiriki says the club has endured some frustrations in the offseason, with NRL clubs enticing a handful of promising youngsters across the ditch. But that is partand-parcel of premier club rugby league and Rikiriki does not dwell on the losses, rather he is thankful for the talent he has.
‘‘We lost two guys, to Melbourne and the Bulldogs, and it is a double-edged sword. We are developing them, we want them to be turning out for the Vikings, but we certainly don’t want to stand in their way when these chances come up.’’
The new season kicks off with a double-header at Porirua Park on March 28. In the 6.30pm game the Dragons take on Petone. The Vikings face University at 8pm.
Revving up: Porirua Vikings’ AJ Akavi fends off a Randwick defender last season. The Porirua side had no trouble scoring tries – it was on defence they were found wanting in 2012.