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Bush ready to fire at Maori tourney

Wairarapa-Bush Maori prop Nick Hohepa on the charge for Greytown. PHOTO/FILE

GARY CAFFELL

Expect fireworks from Wairarapa-Bush at the annual Te Tini a Maui central regional Maori rugby tournament to be held in Levin over the weekend.

At least that’s the hope of head coach Joe Harwood who wants what he labels a “pretty exciting” squad to fully express themselves in an attacking sense.

“Obviously, we have to have some structure around the set pieces and other ball-winning areas but when we do have possession we’ll be looking to spread it wide and have a decent crack,” Harwood said.

“It’s what this sort of tourney is all about, you’re always looking to score more tries than the other side.”

With star Heartland player James Goodger helping Harwood out with the forwards and Eli Telford, who has taken Greytown to success in the Tui Cup premier inter-club competition and coached the Wairarapa-Bush sevens, doing likewise with the backs, Wairarapa-Bush are well-served in the management area.

And Harwood has also been delighted with the commitment of the players who had attended the three pre-tourney training sessions in good numbers and worked hard on enhancing both their conditioning and combinations.

“You can’t fault their enthusiasm, they’ve really got stuck in.”

Up front, Wairarapa-Bush will lack nothing on the score of ruggedness in the front row where Heartland reps Nick Hohepa, James Pakoti and Hone Vella will lead the way and others contesting for places in the tight five include promising duo Alec Henricksen and Lewis Bush.

There is a good mix of experience and youth in the loose forward combination too where evergreen Joe Feast and the up-and-coming Cody Cunningham are sure to make their presence felt.

In the backs, Wairarapa-Bush have a couple of halfbacks in Brian Arnold and Isaac Bracewell who seem certain to challenge strongly for higher honours soon while first-five Tipene Haira was a regular performer for the Heartland side last season.

His playmaking skills should ensure that the likes of Nikora Ewe, William Haira and Reece Calkin in the outside backs are given plenty of opportunities to stretch their legs.

Ewe could be a key player for Wairarapa-Bush as he has both the strength and the speed to test even the tightest of defences.

Wairarapa have been drawn in the same pool as Wanganui and Horowhenua-Kapiti and there will be a relatively short break between their games on Saturday, the Wanganui match kicking off at 10am and the Horowhenua-Kapiti game at 1pm.

Both will be played at Plyford Park over two spells of 30 minutes.

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