SBS Bank Hawkins

Hawkins Division 1 - Kicks off this Weekend!

27 Mar 2015

Christchurch Div 1The Hawkins Cup kicks-off this weekend with a gala day hosted by the Christchurch club. While much of the interest will centre on a repeat of last season’s Hawkins Trophy final between High School Old Boys and Sydenham, attending fans will be able to enjoy six round one matches in close physical proximity.

Unsurprisingly, no team is prepared to declare themselves the favourite this season, but all the signs point to closely fought Hawkins Cup and Trophy competitions.

After only having six out of 26 players returning in 2014, Belfast have much more consistency in their playing roster this season. Narrowly losing to Burnside in their pre-season, Belfast will look to powerful number eight Matt Naibuka for go-forward. Another useful addition to this year’s squad is lock Tom Houghton, from the North Island. Belfast will also field three backs from the talented Canterbury Sevens squad this season.

The focus at Burnside is on team rather than individual star performers, according to one of their coaches, Peter Manson. Captained this year by Tom Lindsay, Burnside has a relatively youthful squad. Missing this season will be club great Mikaele Tu’u (who is playing for Rolleston, where he is now living) and possibly, but not necessarily, club stalwarts Phil Gibson and Pete Stanley.

Christchurch report stability this season. Co-coach Daniel O’Brien says that their squad recently spent a week in Australia, where they played, and won, two matches. He says that a few colts from last season, including Oklay Johnson and Jordan Jackett, will make the step-up to seniors this year. Christchurch play Marist Albion this Saturday.

Last season’s Hawkins Trophy winner High School Old Boys also report stability in their playing ranks. “Brad Hemopo has moved to Tasman, but we are pretty similar playing-wise to last season,” co-coach Joe Gee says. Adam Whitelock has of course moved overseas though. A couple of colts have also moved up, with others likely to be elevated during the season.

Gee says that while High School Old Boys tasted success last season, there is always pressure on their club to produce winning teams. He says the club’s strong Division 2 and Colts line-ups will ensure plenty of depth throughout their senior club.

Lincoln University has been one of the strongest teams in both competitions in recent seasons and this year looks no different. The country university played well in a pre-season match with High School Old Boys and has a squad chock full of talented former school and junior representative players. A loss, however, is last season’s captain, midfielder James Schrader, who is now working in Southland.

New Linwood head coach Andy Gibson says his squad has had a decent pre-season and is raring to begin its competition season outright. The squad is made up of roughly half of last season’s squad and half new players. Prominent this season will undoubtedly be Crusaders and wider-training-group players Alex Hodgman, Nathaniel Apa and Richie Mo’unga. Pita Anae-Ah-Sue will captain Linwood this season.

The key to Marist Albion’s prospects this season are “consistency and hard work” their co-coach Adrian Kennedy says. As part of their pre-season, Marist Albion have participated in the South Island Marist Tournament. They begin their Hawkins Cup campaign with a match against Christchurch this weekend.

Marist Albion stalwart Rowan O’Gorman is now the club’s RDO and he will be focusing on coaching (the club’s under-21s) this season. The club welcomes back hooker Filo Malinga from Invercargill and new rake Matt Morrison from Auckland.

New Brighton co-coach Steve Ellis says that after the high of 2013 and the low of 2014, his side are determined to do well this season. The good news is that American lock Ben Nelson is only a few weeks away from returning from injury, while young prop Oliver Jager may be one to watch. Canterbury ITM Cup player Brett Mather (who has been playing in France) and Tyson Keats should also be wearing New Brighton gold early this season. Steve says that as it’s likely to be his and club stalwart Aaron McCoy’s last season, they have shaken hands and agreed that they would both do everything they could to collectively finish on a high note.

Shirley co-coach John McCaw says their pre-season has gone well and that their new players have been introduced seamlessly into the squad. Shirley welcomes back Dave Tompkinson into their backline after a three-year absence. McCaw says that Tompkinson will bring experience and direction that younger squad members will be able to feed off.

Shirley, which begins its Hawkins Cup campaign with a derby match against Linwood, has had a quality pre-season. McCaw says they will have no excuses if they don’t start well.

Sumner Div 1Pre-season injuries have been an issue for Sumner. While Sumner has also had a decent pre-season - including an away game against Glenmark last weekend - injuries have taken their toll. “While we have had good numbers in our (newly-formed) Colts team and our Division 1 side, the hard grounds and injuries in general have had an impact on availabilities,” club vice-president Barry McLaughlan says. Sumner meet New Brighton in round one this Saturday.

New Sydenham coach Brendon Nolan says he has a youthful squad this season and, while there is always pressure on a traditionally-successful club like Sydenham, they will be, as the cliché goes, taking it “one game at a time”.

Brendon says he has been reasonably happy with his squad’s pre-season. “We took part in a 15-aside, 15-minute-a-half competition against the universities, Burnside and High School Old Boys and it went pretty well for us.”

University has also faced a large number of pre-season injuries, although, as usual, they have a reasonably young and enthusiastic squad. Club liaison Mark Ranby says that while the unavailability of co-coach from last season Glenn Fyall (due to work commitments) is a blow, the students will look to build on some of the promise that they showed at times last year. While Canterbury under-19 wing Nigel Gibb is injured, University will undoubtedly be guided by the experience and ability of former Northland half-back/first five-eight Kurt Davies.


Related Pages

Site by Orbital Ltd