Home sweet home for Mar­lins

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

The Ti­tahi Bay Mar­lins have led a no­madic ex­is­tence, but fi­nally have a home.

The rugby league club has a sin­gle se­nior men’s team, which com­petes in Wellington’s se­nior 1 com­pe­ti­tion. Last year it lost in the semi-fi­nals.

For much of the club’s 30-year ex­is­tence the Mar­lins were based at Can­nons Creek Park, shar­ing the ground with St Ge­orge.

A de­sire to call a patch of grass their ‘‘home’’ over the years has led to the team play­ing at Ran­gi­tuhi Park, Els­don Park and, last sea­son, on Ti­tahi Bay In­ter­me­di­ate’s field.

This year, things have changed and the club is ap­proach­ing the new sea­son with con­fi­dence.

Mar­lins cap­tain Jeff Risati said get­ting the sup­port of Wellington Rugby League and Porirua City Coun­cil to play home matches on Onepoto Park was a turn­ing point.

‘‘We’re over­whelmed to get the con­fir­ma­tion [two weeks ago] that Onepoto is our home. It’s mas­sive,’’ Risati said.

He is not sure what con­fig­u­ra­tion their pitch will take. Rugby and foot­ball is also played on Onepoto Park dur­ing win­ter.

The Mar­lins have one se­nior team this year and about 23 play­ers to call on. The av­er­age age, in the mid-20s, boded well, man­ager Mike Hall said.

There were plans to get a sec­ond se­nior team and the club would field an un­der-6s team this com­ing sea­son, he said.

‘‘Our big fo­cus has been to be based in the Bay, get that lo­cal sup­port and get a ju­nior pro­gramme go­ing.

‘‘We want some­where for the kids in Ti­tahi Bay to play their rugby league.’’

For their 30th year, the Mar­lins are go­ing retro, with new strips made to show off colours from many years ago.

‘‘We’re hon­our­ing what’s come be­fore us,’’ Risati said. ‘‘Our hope is that, dur­ing the sea­son, some of the old play­ers will come out and talk to us.’’

Mar­lins pre- sea­son matches in­clude fixtures against Har­bour City and Manawatu champs Whiti Te Ra, and the Wainui 9s.

Risati said the goal was to earn pro­mo­tion to pre­mier re­serve.

Mana Com­mu­nity Grants Foun­da­tion, Big Bar­rel and Su­per­loans were cru­cial spon­sors for the Mar­lins, Hall said.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Home at last: From left, Ti­tahi Bay Mar­lins skip­per Jeff Risati, son and likely un­der Mar­lin 6s player Lock­yer Brown-Risati, Mar­lins’ man­ager Mike Hall and loose for­ward Namu Kara at their new home, Onepoto Park.

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