H-K sev­ens grab fi­nal spot for the na­tion­als

Kapiti Observer - - MOTORING - ADAM POULOPOULOS

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.

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