Bay of Plenty Ngāwhā head coach Culum Retallick has selected a well-rounded team for this season’s competition.
His side has a lot of similarities to the All Blacks of the late 80s and early 90s, blessed with plenty of speed and agility, but possibly lacking in size compared to their opponents.
Despite his side’s annihilation of his Waikato counterparts at the weekend, Retallick isn’t getting carried away with the win.
“We were pretty rapt but it’s only a preseason game. There is no need to get too excited, we were happy to give it a crack, because we have only had five trainings together. So overall, we are happy with where we are tracking at this stage in the season.
“There is room for improvement, but we’ve got a team with great skills and a great profile of playing attacking rugby, but we’re not the biggest team going around.
“What we have to do as coaches is be mindful of that. We play a fast attacking game that doesn’t give a team a chance to rest.
“One of the things Bay rugby stands for is that we have always played an expansive game, not scared to have a crack. That is one of the things we want to represent and we’re making sure that we’ve got a game plan that suits that identity.”
The side goes into this weekend’s match knowing very little of their opponent.
“In all honesty, we haven’t had this competition for four years. So, to be fair, I’m not too sure what they’re like. But I know all the teams that are in the competition are in the same boat.”
Retallick says the competition will give his players an opportunity to impress Steamers coach Clayton McMillan.
“Normally, there are a big group of guys sitting around doing nothing at this time of year after club rugby finishes. From the players point of view, it’s going to be exciting. In our team there are some very good players.
“Guys that can definitely step up to the next level. What we want is them playing well week-in and week-out. Clayton has made a commitment to our team that if there are any injuries or anything like that, then they are going to pick within our group. There is going to be injuries so, there is going to be opportunities.”
McMillan has been a man of his word, already calling on two of Retallick’s players so far this season.
The side sees a number of players who have been rewarded for their impressive showing during the club season, and Retallick says there are a number of players rugby enthusiasts will want to see excel.
“I definitely think our loose forwards, all of them are good enough players. There are already playing up at Mitre 10 Cup level. There is no denying that. Two of them are New Zealand 20s players. Mungo Mason was a Tauranga Boys’ College captain who has been overseas. He’s come back and trying to make his mark.
“In the backs we’ve got some really young talent in the midfield and on the wings with a lot of promise, like Seamus Bardoul. He can make the move up.”
Retallick says he, along with his assistant coaches Pingi Taalapitanga and Phil Falamoe, are determined to prepare his players for the move to the Mitre 10 Cup environment.
“We, as coaches, are making sure we are highly organised. Every week we are having dialog with the Steamers coaches around players. We have our own video analyst, and the boys get the opportunity to view the game and do their homework. So, if they do get the opportunity to move up, they are not out of their depth.”
2019 Bay of Plenty Ngāwhā squad:
Seamus Bardoul (Tauranga Sports)
Declan Barnett (Te Puke Sports)
Kaydin Budd (Te Puna)
Taniela Filimone (Rangataua)
Kohan Herbert (Mount Maunganui Sports) - Vice Captain
Tyrone Keith (Tauranga Sports)
Brody Lam (Greerton Marist)
Gordie Lloyd (Te Puna)
Iosefa Maloney (Greerton Marist)
Mungo Mason (Overseas)
Jesse Mason-Grant (Whakarewarewa)
Reece Macdonald (Te Puna)
Kody McGovern (Greerton Marist)
Jaya More (Whakarewarewa)
Liam Morrison (Te Puna)
Jeriah Mua (Tauranga Sports) - Vice Captain
Carl Perry (Mount Maunganui Sports)
Jonas Petrakopoulos (Greerton Marist)
Pierre Pili (Greerton Marist)
Jonas Pomare (Mount Maunganui Sports)
Dennon Robinson-Bartlett (Whakarewarewa)
Justin Sangster (Te Puna)
Toni Toia (Tauranga Sports)
Te Aihe Toma (Te Puna) - Captain
Etonia Waqa (Te Puna)
2019 Bay of Plenty Ngāwhā Management:
Head Coach: Culum Retallick
Assistant Coaches: Pingi Taalapitaga & Phil Falamoe
Manager: David Gorrie
Campaign Manager: Regan Innis
Physio: Victor Malbon
Bay of Plenty Ngāwhā 2019 Schedule:
Saturday 24 August vs North Harbour, Windsor Park, Albany, 2.30pm
Saturday 31 August vs Auckland, Tauranga Domain, 2.30pm
Saturday 7 September, vs Counties Manakau, Karaka Sports Park, 2.30pm
Saturday 14 September, vs Auckland, Rugby Park Whakatane, 12.30pm
Saturday 21 September, vs Northland, Dargaville, 2.30pm
Saturday 28 September, vs Taranaki, Tauranga Domain, 12.00pm