Porirua clubs begin rugby sea­son with high hopes

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

Photo: RHI­AN­NON MCCONNELL

Team game: Pare­mata Plim­mer­ton will rely on fit­ness and com­mit­ment to earn re­sults at the top level.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

In charge: Jack­son Gar­den-Ba­chop will be a key cog in the Norths ma­chine.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Lead­ing the way: Taniela Koroi will cap­tain Tawa.

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