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Player of the week: Blane Kete

Blane Kete. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Greytown blindside flanker Blane Kete has been making a massive impact, mainly coming off the bench for the runaway competition leaders. CHRIS COGDALE caught up with the self-employed Masterton builder.

It’s fair to say Blane Kete is a late bloomer. Although aged 33, Kete’s rugby experience has been sporadic.

The grandson of the late Toby Hawea, an outside back for Wairarapa from 1961-67, it’s surprising that Kete didn’t take up rugby until at Masterton Intermediate School.

Judo was Kete’s sport, and he excelled, finishing second at the 2004 national secondary school championships and winning two silvers at the New Zealand championships.

When he took up rugby, the skills and strength gained from judo was a big advantage. He played for the Wairarapa College 1st XV and represented Wairarapa-Bush in age groups along with Tavita Isaac, Ray Oakley, and Nick Olson – all current Greytown players.

After school, Kete trained as a builder’s apprentice in Wellington and joined Poneke, playing in the club’s colts and senior first sides.

He then spent six years in Australia but played only one season for Surfer’s Paradise.

Back home in 2017, Kete played for Greytown before he headed to London, and rugby went on the back burner.

The calling of Wairarapa was strong though, and Kete returned in 2020, just beating the covid-19 travel restrictions.

“There’s no place like home, it’s nice to be by family and old friends, and the rugby, the culture, and just the lifestyle – it’s much better over here,” Kete said.

Injury curtailed last season, but now injury-free Kete has been in outstanding form coming off the bench, but a groin injury to inspirational captain Isaac meant an early introduction
on Saturday.

“Gladdy came out firing and outmuscled us, and we were a bit shell-shocked, and there was a bit of bickering, but we put our heads down and muscled up against them, and once we did that, we could use our backs,” he said.

Kete is confident Greytown can win the championship, with the culture in the club playing a big part.

“It is hard to explain how well the boys have bought into looking after each other, not only at trainings, but also in fundraising, and making up our own haka – I’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

Away from the rugby field Kete is too busy with the new house he purchased with partner Nicole, and his recently established building business.

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