Simanu Simanu … can cover fullback, wing, and centre and brings the impact from the bench. PHOTO/FILE

Eighties’ players set to fill Wai-Bush virtual team

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Interest in tomorrow’s 1985 NPC virtual semifinal has been high on the Wairarapa-Bush Facebook page and website.

The match is the brainchild of Wai-Bush chief executive officer Tony Hargood, who is keen to correct an injustice from the 1985 NPC First Division Championship, won by Auckland, with the green and reds in fourth place.

But with top four playoffs not in place until the 1990s,

Wai-Bush were denied the chance to play a semifinal so Hargood has arranged a virtual match to be played on the Wai-Bush Facebook tomorrow at 2.30pm.

Over the past week, the Times-Age has been listing players from the various positions and encouraging readers to pick their own team to compare with the “official” team.

The lists have subsequently been uploaded on the Wai-Bush Facebook page, and have attracted plenty of interest.

The most popular day was Tuesday with the lock selections, which had a reach of 6300 and attracted 797 engagements.

So with the team to be named tomorrow, it’s time to put my selection on paper.

The 1980s are likely to dominate the final team.

That was the era that Wai-Bush were at their peak and several players went on to earn higher honours, with several All Blacks, Maori All Blacks, Junior All Blacks and NZ Colts.

For me, Mark Benton looks a shoo-in at fullback. With the ability to cover first-five, ‘Bucket’ is a must-include.

The wings almost pick themselves – Greg Karaitiana and Mike Foster.

Along with Benton, they forged a devastating back three. Unlucky would be All Black Neil Purvis, but the combination gets my nod.

Simanu Simanu who can cover fullback, wing, and centre brings the impact from the bench.

The midfield combination looks the toughest to decide. with Marty Berry getting the nod at second five and Jimmy Cotter slotting in at number 13. Charlie Kaka adds much needed punch off the substitute’s bench.

The cool head of Phil Rutene has him take the pivotal first-five role.

The halfback is a toss-up between Bernie Lett and Bunter Anderson. Lett gets my vote, with Anderson providing vital impact off the bench with his sniping runs around the fringe to test the Auckland defence.

With Sir Brian Lochore as coach, that leaves the No 8 position open for Carlos Baker. He is joined in the loose forward trio by fellow Maori All Black Germaine Anaha and one-test All Black Brett Harvey. The abrasive Mike Fleming comes off the bench.

Brent Anderson and Ian Turley form my locking partnership.

Andrew McLean, who in my opinion would’ve walked into that 1980s’ side, provides the power as an impact player against the tiring city slickers.

I’ve picked Bill Rowlands and Chris Kapene as starting props, with Nigel Sargent and Robbie McLean as substitutes.

The hookers are probably the toughest call. A record 132 appearances has Gary ‘Jack’ McGlashan take the starting role and captaincy.

Glen Fraser gets the back-up role, while Joe Harwood is the unlucky player to miss out.

The official team will be announced tomorrow morning on the Wai-Bush Facebook page and website.

Coggie’s picks for Wai-Bush to play Auckland in a 1985 NPC virtual semifinal

Mark Benton, Mike Foster, Jimmy Cotter, Marty Berry, Greg Karaitiana, Phil Rutene, Bernie Lett, Carlos Baker, Germaine Anaha, Brett Harvey, Ian Turley Brent Anderson, Bill Rowlands, Jack McGlashan [capt], Chris Kapene.

Reserves: Glen Fraser, Robbie McLean, Nigel Sargent, Andrew McLean, Bunter Anderson, Charlie Kaka, Simanu Simanu.

Coach: Sir Brian Lochore.

Referee: Bob Francis; Assistant Referees: Rebecca Mahoney, Alistair Payne; TMO: Steve Hannam.



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