OVER­VIEW

NZ Rugby World - First XV - - AUCKLAND 1A -

As ever, it is hard to look past the ‘big three’ of West­lake, Ros­mini and West­lake when con­tem­plat­ing the pos­si­ble North Har­bour 1A cham­pion.

But the com­pe­ti­tion it­self has in­creased to eight teams, up one from 2014, which means there will be no byes, a welcome change. Long Bay and Mahu­rangi, alma mater of the Brooke broth­ers, are up with the big boys, but the peren­nial ques­tion re­mains: who will join the vaunted trio in the semi­fi­nals? Orewa made good strides in 2014, but Ran­gi­toto and Taka­puna Gram­mar will have some­thing to say about that.

West­lake are the three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and have the cov­eted Wood­house Shield. This top rugby school is am­bi­tious and has a new coach in di­rec­tor of rugby and for­mer Ki­wis league cap­tain Hugh McGa­han, as­sisted by Aaran Katipa.

“We’re not only chang­ing per­son­nel but also the way we are try­ing to play the game. We’re look­ing to be a bit more ex­pan­sive, so it’s about get­ting their heads around that,” says McGa­han.

Ros­mini, too, have a new coach – for­mer Manawatu and NZU wing Mark Free – and a new team, with just two back from the 2014 fi­nal­ists. But the Catholic First XV will be fit, well drilled and well pre­pared, if not big and sea­soned.

Massey will be big and sea­soned, and des­per­ate to clinch their first 1A ti­tle since 2011. Coach Jono Taura can call on no less than 14 of the class of 2014.

All 1A kick­offs are again at 12 mid­day, so hard-core rugby fans can get to club footy or 1A games across the bridge.

Massey wing Do­rian Vil­iamu on the at­tack against West­lake.

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