Manawatu¯ men target national title
Manawatu¯ will have two teams having a crack at capturing the national touch crown in Christchurch this weekend.
The national championships were postponed from early last month to this weekend because of Covid-19, and Manawatu¯ has two strong teams entered.
Manawatu¯ White is in the pool of death, which has about six teams capable of qualifying. The two top teams in each pool qualify for the playoffs.
Manawatu¯ Black is probably the stronger team, having gone through two recent tournaments – one in Palmerston North and one in Paraparaumu – unbeaten.
A few other teams are likely to be wary of Manawatu¯ Black, which has a few top age-grade players who are now on the men’s scene.
The Black team is coached by former Touch Blacks Eugene Hepi and player-coach Garry Reilly, while the White team is coached by Potene Paewai and Delaney Hallett.
Manawatu¯ Black is captained by former New Zealand under-20 players Jahlon Governor and Potene Rolls-paewai.
The experienced Corey Governor will captain Manawatu¯ White.
Players to watch from the Black side are Tamatoa Ropati, Jahlon Governor, Potene Rolls-paewai, Sonny Tuala, Carson Hepi, Hamiora Thomas and Varcon King.
The dangermen in the White team are Corey Governor, Tipene Norman, Ryleigh Hadfield, Wharewaiata Rolls and Mana Timoti.
Manawatu¯ Black has two players transferred from Waikato, brothers Dillon and Ryleymartin, who played in the New Zealand under-20s and under-18s, respectively.
Manawatu¯ White drafted four players from Canterbury because of late withdrawals.
Three players travel from Dannevirke to play: Te Turanga Reweti, Hemi Fraser and Quaid Turipa. Two Manawatu¯ players attend University of Waikato and have been travelling back to train: Tai Rolls-paewai and Neihana Takitimu-cook.
Manawatu¯ is hosting the national championships next season and hopes to enter more teams, including an open women’s and a masters mixed open team featuring legends of the past like Sharlene BannisterPlumridge, George Jahnke and Wade Sharp.