Around the grounds - Round 7

Promising signs for Counties Manukau
Changes are happening at Counties Manukau Rugby on and off the field and was the bumper crowd at Wednesday’s pre-season clash with North Harbour at Massey Park a sign things are on the up?
On a cold and wet school night, the grandstand was nearly full with a parochial crowd cheering the local boys on.
The highlight of the game of thirds, won 40-24, to the Bayleys Counties Manukau Cavaliers was the performance in the last third, with Ume Fosita and Luteru Laulala combining beautifully to help pile on the points.

It was good to see the Union’s apparel partner, Ed Harmin of Paladin, and Cavaliers sponsor, Ray Mountfort enjoying the grassroots atmosphere in the grandstands on Wednesday night. Also pleasing to see was a massive turnout from across the club network with local identities from Manurewa all the way to Onewhero keeping an eye on proceedings.

Which premier coach is battling with a sore back and needed help to leave Massey Park on Wednesday night? The rumour is he tweaked it while leaping for joy at the performance of some of his troops for the Cavaliers and ended up having to go to hospital. The Union wishes him a speedy recovery.

Big names playing lower divisions
With the club struggling a little for numbers in the Covid-hit season Patumahoe will run PIC Steelers first-five Riley Hohepa in Premier 2 this week against Weymouth while winger Jimmy Brady will turn out for the club’s Premier 3 side against Drury.
The Premier side has a bye thankfully and the club has been forced to plug holes with injuries and player unavailability becoming an issue the longer the season runs.
Things could be desperate enough for this columnist to make an appearance next week.

Puni success continues
We mentioned it last week but Puni now sits in top spot in Premier 3 standings – the first time since the mid-1990s that they have been in such a position.
It is great reward for a club that has made huge strides on and off the field this season despite the challenging  situation around Covid-19.
It would prove a popular win should they go on and lift the Sid Marshall Shield in 2020.

Courses prove popular

It was nice to receive some wonderful feedback from NZR staffer and local resident Mike Hester on recent courses run by the Union. 

Hester coaches his son’s U8s team at Karaka and took time out of his busy schedule earlier this week to praise Counties Manukau’s Jeremy Wara and Brandon Roberts for the Small Blacks and Associate Referees’ courses they recently ran.
“They were a great reflection on Counties Manukau’s approach to the community game,” Hester said in an email to the Union.

Need to house players
With the PIC Steelers assembling soon the squad will begin practising for the start of the Mitre 10 Cup season.

The union is on the look out for some accommodation for a handful of Super Rugby players that will be based in the region for the next 4-5 months.
If anyone has a short-term rental available, contact PIC Steelers manager Dale Tucker on 021 388 157.