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Allen to lead Coast in Te Tini a Maui tourney

NPEC chairman Campbell Dewes is right behind the growth of Maori rugby in New Zealand.

RUATORIA City players form the core of the East Coast representative team playing in the central region Maori tournament, Te Tini a Maui, in Masterton tomorrow.

City players are available as the club has this week’s bye in the senior competition.

Ngati Porou East Coast Rugby Union has the highest percentage of Maori players of any rugby union in the country. Maori make up more than 90 percent of NPEC’s senior players and 95 percent of senior coaches.

NPEC chairman Campbell Dewes is right behind the growth of Maori rugby in New Zealand, and a strong supporter of Te Tini a Maui.

“East Coast rugby is Maori rugby,” Dewes said.

“The clubs in our union are whanau and hapu based.”

The NPEC team will be captained by City open-side flanker Paddy Allen, who played for Ngatapa last year. Parekura Lalaga, who was a loan player in Heartland last year, will play No.8, and Rod Ririnui is in the front row.

Neihana Ratahi-Brown will be halfback and Corey Walker will play in the midfield. NPEC coaches Wayne Ensor and Troy Para will be at Te Tini a Maui.

The next NPEC game they face is the annual fixture against Poverty Bay on Queen’s Birthday.

Ensor is now free of commitments to HSOB in Poverty Bay, and said he would try to get to as many NPEC club games as possible.

Ensor said he and the coaches are keen to change the representative team culture this year.

“We’re not sure where we want the culture to be, but we certainly want the players to be fit. The majority are working on the latter with our fitness coach, Regan Horsfall,” Ensor said.

“As for Heartland, we lost a couple of games by close margins. We want to turn losses into wins.”

Published: March 10, 2017 10:35AM