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New blood in Poverty Bay squad

Poverty Bay Squad vs East Coast – June 2nd {Queens Birthday}

Props: Sandy Hohipa Campbell (Waikohu), Jody Tuhaka (HSOB), Semisi Akana (Ngatapa), Sione Ngatu (Nga).

Hookers: Tamanui Hill (HSOB), Shayde Skudder (YMP), Rikki Terekia (OBM).

Locks: Jacob Cook (OBM), Eru Wharerau (YMP), Sam McDell (Nga), Juston Allen (OBM).

Blindside flankers: Willis Tamatea (YMP), Jess Kapene (Athletic), Mekeopio Brown (YMP).

Openside flankers: Stefan Destounis (HSOB), Fawn White (YMP), Kurt Taylor (Ath).

No.8s: Ken Houkamau (Waik), Siosiua Moala (HSOB).

Halfbacks: Mario Counsell (Waik), Willy Grogan (OBM), Hamuera Baker (Waik).

First five-eighths: Kelvin Smith (Waik), Jake Holmes (OBM).

Midfield backs: Jesse Fleming (Waik), Tawhao Stewart (Waik), Anthony Karauria (Nga).

Outside backs: Te Peehi Fairlie (YMP), Oka Sanerivi (Nga), Andrew Tauatevalu (HSOB), Ethine Reeves (Waik), Cameron Rowden (Nga), Karl Macpherson (Nga).


POVERTY Bay coach Mana Otai has named a 33-man squad to prepare for this season’s Heartland Championship, which starts with a home game against Wairarapa Bush on August 25.

“We’ve introduced a lot of new blood into the squad with everything, including Saturday’s match against East Coast geared towards a successful Heartland Championship,” said Otai, whose team lost to King Country in the Lochore Cup (fifth to eighth placings) semifinals last season.”

Waikohu have been rewarded for their seven-match perfect run in the Poverty Bay premier club competition with eight players in Otai’s squad.

Ethine Reeves (fullback), Jesse Fleming (midfield), Tawhao Stewart (midfield), Kelvin Smith (first five-eighth), Ken Houkamau (No.8) Mario Counsell (halfback) and Sandy Hohipa-Campbell (prop) were all members of last season’s Bay squad.

They have been joined by halfback and former Manawatu Maori representative Hamuera Baker, who will put pressure on incumbents Counsell and Willy Grogan of OBM.

Otai said the squad would be reduced to 22 for Saturday’s Queen’s Birthday Weekend clash at Tolaga Bay.

Ngatapa, with seven players chosen, have the next biggest representation.

Props Semisi Akana and Sione Ngatu, winger Karl Macpherson and midfield back Anthony Karauria and Oka Sanerivi were always going to be in with a strong shout, while lock Sam McDell and Cameron Rowden forced their way in with consistent performances.

Rowden is one of the smallest players in the premier competition but has one of the biggest hearts when it comes to putting his body on the line.

The 20-year-old, who took over as captain from injured halfback Chris Richardson for Saturday’s 16-15 win over HSOB, has been a revelation this season.

“He’s a guy you know won’t let you down,” said Ngatapa backs coach David McDonald.

“You just have to look at his commitment to the game. He travels from 20 minutes inland from Tolaga twice a week to train at Patutahi.

“Sam’s also shown a lot of potential this season. We’re delighted for them both to be involved in the rep squad.”

Athletic’s Jesse Kapene and skipper Kurt Taylor have also been rewarded for consistently strong performances in a side battling near the bottom of the table.

Kapene, who can play six, seven or eight, has put his hand up for a run-on spot against the Coast with man-of-the-match performances week-in, week out.

Taylor has been chosen as one of three openside flankers — a surprise given all his games, bar last week’s clash with YMP, have been at first five-eighth or fullback.

“Kurt is a good openside flanker but I’ve had to use him in the No.10 jersey for most of the season,” said Athletic coach Jimmy Whaitiri.

“I have no doubt that if he is selected he won’t let the team down. He has had to do a lot of tackling this season, him and Jesse. It’s great for the club to get two players in the Bay squad. They deserve their places.”

Siosiua Moala, who arrived back on Saturday after playing in Spain, has been included in the squad.

Moala has been the Bay’s player of the year for the past two seasons and was a member of the NZ Heartland 15 in 2016 and 2017.

Published: May 29, 2018 2:43PM

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