Greytown co-captain Tana Isaac heading for the tryline against Carterton on Saturday. PHOTOS/KYLIE EVANS

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

A strict army fitness regime is paying early dividends for Moose Kapene Cup leaders, Greytown.

Greytown are the only unbeaten team in the Wairarapa-Bush premier club rugby championship after four rounds.

Coach Eli Telford is crediting much of that to the discipline brought to the team by an ex-army officer Scott Cottier, who has moved to Wairarapa from Auckland and is working part-time as the Wairarapa recruitment officer for the Territorials.

“I knew him from when I played rugby league in Manawatu, and I knew what he brought in terms of discipline and standards and a good level of fitness,” Telford said on Monday.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s only early days, but it’s working well.”

Telford said Cottier has changed the culture around the team.

“There’s nothing glamorous about what he does. There’s a lot of hard graft and he doesn’t go easy on us, but we’ve all bought into it.”

Although happy with bagging the five points for a bonus point 35-7 victory over fierce rivals Carterton on Saturday, Telford was disappointed his team didn’t kick-on in the second half.

“We only scored three points and we gave away too much possession.

“We would’ve liked to have cracked on in the second-half but poor discipline around the rucks cost us. We gave away too many penalties.”

Moo Moo Falaniko, right, has been in fine form for Greytown.

Telford was full of praise for winger Moo Moo Falaniko, who has stood out with his punishing running and bruising defence, in the first four rounds.

“He only arrived from Samoa last year and the language barrier was a real problem, but now he’s come out of his shell, is communicating better, and is showing what he is capable of.

“He’s backing himself on attack, his tackling is tough and he’s competent kicker.”

Telford is also rapt with the team’s new midfield pairing.

“We’ve got Moo Moo’s cousin Usoalii [Samuel] and Shane Harmon and they’re forming quite a formidable combination. They’ve been great on attack and really solid on defence.”

Co-captains Chaz Matthews [lock] and Tana Isaac [loose forward] are others who had really shown their worth in the early games, as well as young prop Lewis Bush, who is delivering on his promise and could well be destined for higher honours.

“Bush is quite a big man and has great ball-playing ability. It’s hard to believe he’s a prop at times. He’s very good but he’s had a couple of yellow cards already, so he has to watch his discipline around the ruck.”

Despite being the only unbeaten team, Telford is not taking anything for granted.

“It’s still game by game. There are seven teams who could win this competition. We won’t be taking any of those teams easily – they’re all very good on their day.”

Greytown will look to extend their unbeaten run when they play the inconsistent Marist at Memorial Park this Saturday.