H-K sevens grab final spot for the nationals
Horowhenua-Kapiti are off to another national sevens tournament and another Taylor brother is among their ranks.
H-K finished fifth at the central regional event at Playford Park in Levin on Saturday, beating rivals Wairarapa-Bush 14-7 in the fifth-place grading game to take the final spot.
Keanu Taylor, younger brother of All Black hooker Codie, is part of the side. Keanu played in all five central region games.
He was following in his brother’s footsteps - Codie played for H-K at the national sevens tournament while at Horowhenua College, before being signed by Canterbury - Keanu has just completed year 13 down the road at Waiopehu College.
Keanu’s selection was partly down to the HKRFU’s selection methods.
Coach Ashley Drake searched far and wide to fill his squad, including advertising an open training session through Facebook.
‘‘My dad told me about sevens and my mate went to the training, so I pretty much invited myself to training and ended up getting selected,’’ Keanu said.
Keanu said Codie was ‘‘pretty stoked’’ his younger brother made the team.
‘‘They all kept in contact and supported me,’’ Keanu said.
Keanu played hooker on Saturday, but is an openside flanker in 15s.
Drake, an H-K rugby legend and former Cook Islands sevens representative, said the Levin Wanderers club player acquitted himself well in his first tournament in the spotlight.
‘‘There’s not much of him, but he’s a real workhorse. He shone from the start. There’s something about the kid.’’
H-K took the tough route to national qualification, finishing third in their group.
Hawke’s Bay scored in the final play of the game to win their encounter 21-14, H-K then beat Wanganui 19-0, but were thrashed 48-0 by Wellington.
H-K beat Poverty Bay 24-12 in their first playoff game to make the fifth-place playoff.
Drake also paid tribute to his team’s medical staff, who dealt with a heavy injury toll.
‘‘Whatever the physio did I don’t know, but he got them fit and firing for the last game.
‘‘There were four guys constantly on the physio table.’’
Nationals are in Rotorua, kicking off on January 14.
H-K qualified for the 2015 tournament, finishing 11th, but missed out last season.
Horowhenua-Kapiti’s Ross Taurima takes the ball forward, with Greg Mullany and Willie Paia’aua in support.