Plas­kett proud to play for Waitaha

Northern Outlook - - SARACENS UNDER-10 RUGBY TEAM - JONATHAN LEASK

Ran­giora’s Ethan Plas­kett is in his fifth sea­son play­ing for the Can­ter­bury-Waitaha Ma¯ori rugby team.

Not a bad ef­fort for a player who didn’t think he was ‘‘Ma¯ori enough to be el­i­gi­ble’’.

Plas­kett (Ngai Tahu) started out his rugby jour­ney play­ing for Ash­ley. Af­ter a cou­ple of sea­son for the Ran­giora 1st XV, he played for Sara­cens for three years be­fore mov­ing to Christchurch and joined the Christchurch Rugby Club in 2011.

‘‘My nana is the most in­volved in pass­ing on the her­itage and we also had a lot of fam­ily get­to­geth­ers so I knew I was Ma¯ori,’’ Plas­kett said.

‘‘ I didn’t know I was el­i­gi­ble to play though un­til Kahu [Carey], who was coach­ing the team at the time, asked me. I had no idea so he found out.’’

The 25-year-old diesel me­chanic, who plays as a loose for­ward but can also slot in at hooker said it is prob­a­bly a sim­i­lar story for a lot of play­ers, that know they have some Ma¯ori an­ces­try, and even some who have no idea.

Within the team en­vi­ron­ment, Plas­kett said there is a fo­cus on her­itage and cul­ture, as well as win­ning games.

Waitaha ad­vanced to their sec- ond straight pro­mo­tion-rel­e­ga­tion game cour­tesy of a bonus point in their 17-22 loss to Tas­man Red Devils in Blen­heim, fol­low­ing a win over South­land B.

‘‘It was lucky in Blen­heim that while we weren’t up to scratch we man­aged to pick up a bonus point we needed.’’

Waitaha took out the pro­mo­tion-rel­e­ga­tion match against Can­ter­bury Coun­try 29-17 at Man­dev­ille on Satur­day.

Coun­try took an early 3-0 lead with a Brook Re­tal­lick penalty be­fore Waitaha went on the charge to storm out to a 29-3 lead.

Coun­try fought back with tries to Leonard Van der Velde and Hadrian Jack­son, both con­verted by Re­tal­lick, but the come back fell short.

‘‘We put it all to­gether when we re­ally needed.

‘‘We slacked off a bit to­wards the end but held it to­gether enough to get the re­sult’’

The win earns Waitaha a place in the Pre­mier­ship next sea­son along side Tas­man Griffins –win­ners of their sec­ond pre­mier­ship ti­tle in three years–, Can­ter­bury Metro and Otago B. Coun­try drops down to the Cham­pi­onship with South­land B and the Tas­man Red Devils.

There is still taonga at stake with two games left in their sea­son. Waitaha will meet Te Upoko o Te Ika Welling­ton Ma¯ori for the Tirikatene Shield at Lin­field Park on Septem­ber 23.

They then face South­land Ma¯ori a week later.

Ear­lier this year, Waitaha de­fended the taonga at the Te Wai­pounamu South Is­land Maori rugby tour­na­ment in Ti­maru.

SUPPLIED

Ethan Plas­kett (top right) and the Can­ter­bury-Waitaha Ma¯ori cel­e­brates their win over Can­ter­bury Coun­try.

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