‘No ego, I just want to get on with it’
One of Porirua Vikings’ favourite sons has taken over the ship’s helm.
Antz Akavi, who has held almost every coaching position at the Ascot Park-based rugby league club, has signed on as the 2017 premier coach.
He will forgo his duties as Wellington’s top rugby league referee to help restore the Vikings’ pride, on and off the field.
It follows the unsuccessful stewardships of Peter Rikiriki and Matt Kilgour, with the premier side not coming close to making a run at a senior title since losing the 2011 grand final.
This winter, the team finished seventh and Kilgour left the club.
Off-field drama, such as a fraud complaint made to the police over missing cash from the Vikings’ bank account, has not overshadowed poor results on the pitch.
Senior players left the Vikings fold and rumours persisted of other first-team players not having the right attitude to dig in and fight for precious victories.
Akavi said it’s time his club - once ably administered by the late Bernie Wood and coached by the likes of David Lomax and Julius Kuresa to three successive titles - got back to basics.
He said he didn’t interview for the position but was only too happy to step in.
‘‘I went to the first training the other week and [chairman] Damon [Rongotaua] introduced me as the new coach,’’ Akavi said.
‘‘There were some smiles from the boys and I said ‘you know who I am and what I expect’.
‘‘There’s no ego - I just want to get on with it.’’
Akavi faces an uphill battle to get the Vikings back to the top table, at least in 2017.
Wellington Rugby League has decided to split the competition into two tiers, with the likes of Randwick, Whiti Te Ra and Te Aroha in the top grade and the Vikings, St George, Titahi Bay Marlins, Porirua Phoenix, Upper Hutt and Trentham in the group below.
‘‘I’m spewing about what can you do?
‘‘All I can do is prepare us well, win the promotion-relegation playoff and get back into that top tier.’’
He has received a lot of support it, but on social media since his role was announced, and he was confident of getting players like Jay Bolstad, Lolo Etimani and Rocky Masoe to turn out again.
‘‘There’s talent in Porirua in the game I love and I want to build on that.
‘‘I’m doing this for the right reasons and want the players to play for the emblem on that jersey that I’m so proud of.’’
New Porirua Vikings premier coach, Antz Akavi, is hoping to take the team to great heights in the next year’s rugby league season.