Porirua clubs begin rugby season with high hopes
Dion Waller says it’s important to shut the door on 2013.
The Tawa Rugby Club’s premier coach, who takes over from Logan Tauiliili, can’t wait for the new club rugby season to kick off.
Premier play begins on Saturday with a gala day at Trentham Memorial Park.
Waller was one of the key strategists behind Tawa’s Swindale Shield/ Jubilee Cup double in 2013.
The wheels fell off somewhat last season – although Tawa had the chance to retain the Swindale in a dramatic final-round match – but Waller said it is important to focus on this season.
‘‘In 2012 we had belief and what happened in 2013 was the result,’’ he said. ‘‘ We celebrated, but let’s move on, rebuild and concentrate on what’s in front of us.’’
It was a rebuilding period for the club, he said, with younger players out of school pushing hard for premier places.
Moving players into the professional ranks had always been the goal, Waller said, but it left big holes to fill.
He said Tawa had a smaller pack than in past years and would adopt a plan to suit their size.
Taniela Koroi will return to lead from the front, and TuUmaga Marshall, Steve So’oialo, Randall Bishop and James So’oialo will light up any muddy field this winter. Waller said flanker TJ Fermanis would be one to watch.
‘‘Sometimes I think people are too focused on winning cups and not player development, which is what we’re about. Personal performance is key for us, along with pride, commitment and consistency. If you sort those out, you win games.’’
Tawa face another Western Bays team, Paremata Plimmerton, in the opening match at Trentham.
Paremata Plimmerton premier coach Dave Birnie said senior training began well before Christmas and his players would be fit.
Recruiting has been carried out, with an eye on the HorowhenuaKapiti catchment and further north.
The starting lineup for the Tawa match was not locked down yet, Birnie said.
‘‘I’m confident we will have a squad that’s going to be competitive,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re under no illusions what a task we have, being promoted to this grade. We have huge challenges in front of us.
‘‘But it’s exciting for what this means for our club.’’
Solid support won’t be an issue for Paremata Plimmerton, with Ngatitoa Domain likely to be wellattended on game day.
Birnie said the club has the second-most juniors of any club in the region and for them to see regular premier rugby on the No 1 field could only be of benefit.
Last week Northern United premier coach Steve Haturini was finalising his match-day 22.
More than 60 players attended pre- season training in recent weeks, from seniors to colts, he said.
Haturini said it was not about goals, but establishing consistency for the premiers. That could mean the end of Norths’ traditional expansive game and with higher percentage tactics instead.
‘‘It’s going to be back to basics in terms of the way we play, such as emphasis on set pieces and building confidence,’’ he said.
‘‘I want us to be more physical and protect the ball.’’
With Jackson Garden-Bachop at first-five and Leni Apisai, Api Naikatini, Chris Middleton and Eric Sione in the forwards, the blue- and- white fans had every reason to be quietly positive, Haturini said. Reaching the Jubilee Cup was expected, he said.
‘‘It’s a good mix of youth and experience and everyone is training the house down.
‘‘I’m excited and I get that buzz every time I come to training in Porirua. The atmosphere is great and we want to deliver to these staunch supporters.’’
All three coaches cited Marist St Pat’s, Hutt Old Boys-Marist, Old Boys- University and Wainuiomata as the teams to beat.
Team game: Paremata Plimmerton will rely on fitness and commitment to earn results at the top level.
In charge: Jackson Garden-Bachop will be a key cog in the Norths machine.
Leading the way: Taniela Koroi will captain Tawa.