Season openers promise plenty

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TAKING OFF: Club rugby begins tomorrow. Pictured is Paroa’s Ariki Henry last season. Paroa play Whakatane Marist in round one tomorrow. File photo D3792-91

BAYWIDE premier club rugby begins tomorrow as teams kickoff an 18-week journey to make the play-offs.

Three Eastern Bay teams will compete in the top flight this year, hoping to be in the top eight at the end of the 11-week round robin. The 24 teams, the first division begins next week, will then split into three divisions to contest the Baywide titles.

And for Eastern Bay fans, it couldn’t begin in better fashion as 2016 premier two champions Paroa host Whakatane Marist at Lawson Park tomorrow. Paroa have former Eastern Bay rep coach Mike Smith at the helm this season and he said they have a positive mind-set ahead of the season opener.

“The team finished on a high last year and we want to carry that on and Whakatane Marist is our first target. We want to finish as high as we can, making the top eight in this round and then building on that in the second to push for top four.”

Marist coach Craig Edwards said his side had changed in the off-season.

“We have lost quite a few players from last year but have picked up some young guys around the 18-19-year-old age bracket. In the first round our goal will be targeting to make the top eight and then we will go from there.”

Poroporo have risen through the ranks in recent years and have a tough assignment at Rotoiti to open their campaign.

“We can only prepare for the unknown really as we have never been in the premier competition, so we can only prepare as well as we can and leave no stone unturned.

“We will be going out there to play as hard as we can and try and implement our systems correctly and we will see what happens from there really.

“We have never played Rotoiti under these circumstances but they are a pretty established team up in the premier division and they are not up there by chance.

“We will treat it like any other game, it is going to be tough but we have to prepare as best we can and see where that takes us.”

Both games kick off at 2.45pm.


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