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Hawkins Division 1 Kicks Off
The Division 1 sides in the Hawkins Cup largely report consistency in their coaching and playing-ranks this season. No club is prepared to put their cards on the table as the season begins this weekend and as a result it is difficult to ascertain the strength of each side before the competition kicks-off.
A major focus this season will be on the procedures around players who are possibly concussed being diagnosed on the field. Recently, as part of the Rugbysmart programme, Division 1 coaches received tuition on the procedures around concussion and defining when players might be concussed.
Belfast (Pictured right, attacking against Shirley), who hosts each of the teams on the opening day, has Denley Jones back in charge this season. Denley will be assisted by Amini Gudrunavanua and Darren Lord. Neil Jackways is managing their side. Denley says that the bulk of his squad from last season is back. Denley says that it is a big season for the club: hosting all the Division 1 teams on Saturday and then holding its centennial in June.
Burnside reports that Mark Robinson will be coaching them this season. Mark coached with Pete Manson last season but this year he is in charge. Burnside says that their pre-season has gone extremely well and that its side is relatively youthful. Players to watch include first-five James Logan (from Lincoln University) and outside back Roland Kotobalavu (from Sydney and a cousin of Crusader Ben Volavola).
Christchurch also reports a change in coaches. Outside commitments mean that Daniel O'Brien will be standing down in the new few weeks, to be replaced by Dwayne Prendergast. Having reached the Hawkins Trophy final last season, the red and blacks report that the mood in their side is very good.
There are familiar names coaching High School Old Boys this season. Paddy Blanchfield is in charge again along with another club stalwart, Peter Chaplin. Their club president Alan Direen says their pre-season games have gone well but that it is difficult to know their relative strength ahead of this weekend.
The Hawkins Cup and Trophy winners from last season Lincoln University also have consistency in their coaching ranks with John
Linwood has Brian Matenga in charge this season, assisted by Aaron Smith and Sam Jack. Reports coming out of Linfield Park suggest that there were huge numbers at the club's senior trials this season. Linwood hopes that they may see outstanding Crusader Richie Mo'unga at some stage during the season, although they accept that it won't be for a few weeks.
Marist Albion (pictured right) has club stalwarts Adrian Kennedy and Kelly Hansen back coaching them again this season. The club reports that plenty of preparation has gone into this season. It is likely that club legend Rowan O'Gorman who, by his own admission, will "never retire" will play Division 1 again this season as well as coaching the Marist Albion Colts squad.
New Brighton has Scott Pawson and Troy Maneana coaching them this season. Scott has coached at the club for several seasons in Division 1 and 2, while Troy most recently coached the Lincoln University Division 2 squad. Marcel Cummings-Toone and Alisi Tupuailei are technical advisors, while Wayne Turner and Ron Vette will manage the seasiders.
Shirley reports that Jimmy Hema and Mike Kelly are coaching the club's Division 1 side. Shirley has met Saracens and Southbridge in its pre-season. Club board member Howard Morel says the pre-season games have gone well for Shirley and that the club is looking forward to the start of the season.
Sumner (profiled on the facing page) has Josh Hately, a former professional player with the Melbourne Rebels in charge, along with outstanding Canterbury winger Marshall Suckling, who not surprisingly will be in charge of the backs. Reece Allen will also provide technical assistance at the club.
There is also no change in coaches at Sydenham this season. Blair Baxter and Brendan Nolan will be in charge again. Sydenham report that a number of their colts from recent seasons are now part of this season's Division 1 squad.
Meanwhile University also have the same Division 1 coaches this season with Sid Tauamiti and Stephan van Gruting in charge. University prepared for its season by spending a few days in Melbourne this month where it met the University of Melbourne. It is hoped that the Victorian university will visit Christchurch next year and the relationship will build.
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