Hoeata happy Har­bour man

Marlborough Express - - SPORT - CLAY WIL­SON

You don’t need to be dyed in the wool North Har­bour to get im­mense sat­is­fac­tion out of thump­ing Auck­land, just ask Jar­rad Hoeata.

Pro­moted to the Mitre 10 Cup Premier­ship divi­sion af­ter their 2016 Cham­pi­onship suc­cess, Har­bour have been ar­guably the story of this sea­son so far, rack­ing up a four-from-four record to be the only un­beaten side along­side Can­ter­bury.

Un­der new coach Tom Coven­try, the for­mer Chiefs as­sis­tant who is build­ing on the work done by pre­de­ces­sor Steve Jack­son, the North Shore-based out­fit have ac­counted for Otago, South­land, Auck­land and Coun­ties Manukau to sit sec­ond be­hind the de­fend­ing Premier­ship cham­pi­ons.

An­other team on the rise, sec­ond-placed Cham­pi­onship side North­land loom as the fifth scalp in Whangarei on Thurs­day night.

But as Hoeata ex­plained, there is lit­tle doubt it was their 57-10 round three thrash­ing of their big­gest ri­vals that was cel­e­brated the most.

‘‘That was mas­sive for us,’’ said the 34-year-old who played eight sea­sons for Taranaki, col­lected 52 caps for the High­landers and three All Blacks caps be­fore tak­ing up a con­tract with the Cardiff Blues in 2014.

‘‘There are a lot of the boys in the Blues en­vi­ron­ment here [at Har­bour] that have been seen as the lit­tle brother.

‘‘We de­cided that is not how we are go­ing to be seen, they can be the lit­tle brother.

‘‘For guys like Jip­per (Har­bour cap­tain James Par­sons), who had won once maybe in eight years in the bat­tle of the bridge, it was awe­some to see how happy they were af­ter that game.

‘‘And, to be fair, in my early days with the Naki we got few towel ups from Auck­land.

‘‘So it was pretty good to be on the other side of the ledger.’’

Given how Har­bour are trav­el­ling, it is easy to see why Hoeata is rel­ish­ing be­ing back on Kiwi soil.

The hard-nosed Mt Maun­ganui prod­uct played three tests in 2011. He missed out on the World Cup squad and in 2014, hav­ing ‘‘achieved ev­ery­thing I wanted to in New Zealand’’, ven­tured off­shore.

Hoeata and his wife loved their three years in the Welsh cap­i­tal. It gave him the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent style of rugby and them the op­por­tu­nity to travel to 22 coun­tries dur­ing that time.

The plan, though, was al­ways to come home for ‘‘a sea­son or two’’ and when a re­turn to Taranaki wasn’t pos­si­ble for this sea­son, Har­bour gained the 1.95m-tall lock­loosie’s ser­vices.

Hoeata ad­mits his mem­o­ries of Har­bour prior to his de­par­ture meant he did a de­cent amount of ring­ing around be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion, but said all his re­search had proved re­li­able.

‘‘It’s just a lot of young guys re­ally keen to do well, and the thing that’s been most no­tice­able is they are not happy with just how they did last year, they’re not done.

‘‘They re­ally want to push on and make a point it wasn’t just a fluke they made it to they Premier­ship, they’re not just go­ing to be whip­ping boys every week and drop straight back down.

‘‘You can tell peo­ple are en­joy­ing not only that we’re win­ning but how we’re play­ing, with pride in the jersey.

‘‘For a long time peo­ple didn’t see that ... the goal re­ally to just get that re­spect.’’

There is lit­tle doubt, on a per­sonal level, Hoeata has al­ready earned that with Coven­try.

He has started every game as part of an un­der­stated for­ward pack tak­ing plenty of pride in pro­vid­ing the ‘‘rock stars’’ in an ex­cit­ing back-line with the ball they need to work their magic.

And while he was pleased with his own form, Hoeata said it wasn’t the only rea­son he was happy with how things had panned out.

‘‘I did some coach­ing pa­pers in the UK, it’s some­thing I’m look­ing at do­ing.’’

GETTY IM­AGES

Tyrel Lo­max, pic­tured here in ac­tion this year with the Mel­bourne Rebels, be­lieves his rugby fu­ture lies in New Zealand.

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