Around the Grounds - Week 1

Around the Grounds - Week 1

Club players playing for Steelers contracts
Club players have everything to play for as the season kicks off this week. We are hearing new Counties Manukau Steelers coach Tai Lavea is definitely going to be out and about on Saturday catching all the action.
Talk is there could be at least eight of the remaining contracts will be coming to club players this year and Lavea will be paying close attention to the club scene each week.

Steelers to sign Super Rugby player
Sticking with the Steelers – while no official announcement has yet been made we’re hearing Counties Manukau is poised to sign a Super Rugby player for the Mitre 10 Cup season.
While Lavea and the union are focusing on selecting club players first and foremost this signing might be the exception to the rule.
The player in question is highly regarded and will give the Steelers a big boost come provincial season.
Watch this space.

Secret haircut
Who was the long-serving club hero that chopped a young teammate’s topknot off during a stag night recently?
Sounds like both lads were having a good time before one fell asleep and the other brought out his DIY hair trimmer?
There are two schools of thought here – the first is that the wannbee barber committed a crime against the bloke code while the other thought is that he actually did the younger player a favour.

Tuakau back in 2020
One of the best pieces of off-season news was the confirmation that Tuakau will field a team in the Premier 3 competition in 2020.
The small, rural club has not entered a team in the senior grades since 2018, when they had a presidents side, and not since 2010 have they had a premier 3 side.
The news was welcomed around the grounds.

Two legends pass on
A couple of iconic figures in Counties Manukau Rugby have passed away in recent weeks.
Original Steelers player and Maramarua stalwart Bill Hale, who played in the first Counties Manukau side against Thames Valley in 1955 passed away last month.
Long-time Te Kauwhata player and administrator John Green also passed away in February. He had been heavily involved with the club since the 1970s.
Counties Manukau Rugby expresses its sincere condolences to both families and would like to acknowledge the huge contribution they made to the sport in our region.

Changes to Council of Delegates
Karaka’s Andy Baker has taken over as chairman of the Council of Delegates, replacing Owen Paul.
Paul, a stalwart of the Bombay club, has stepped down from the role having spent 20 years on the council and the past seven as chairman.
Glenn Flavell from Ardmore Marist will serve as Baker’s new deputy chairman. Both Baker and Flavell will sit on the Counties Manukau board.

New Referees boss too
Brandon Roberts has been confirmed as the new Referees Education Officer replacing Antony Petrie, who has moved to Auckland.
Roberts will be responsible for all refereeing appointments for the 2020 season.

Referee returns
Speaking of referees, Counties Manukau Rugby welcomes back referee Blair Tribe, who has spent the past few seasons plying his trade in Canterbury.
He had a cameo appearance last year but has made the full-time move back to the region and will help bolster the refereeing stocks this season.

Penney makes a comeback
There will be plenty of eyes on the Karaka v Pukekohe premier 1 clash at Karaka Sports Complex on Saturday. But a few keen eyes will be watching the annual Golden Oldies contest against Southland club Colac that will run as the curtain-raiser.
Counties Manukau Commercial Manager Scott Penney will make a comeback of sorts. If you’re out there watching, we suggest you check out the nickname he’ll wear on the back of his jersey.

Switching sides
Which player has drawn the ire of his former teammates by shifting clubs in 2020?
It is fair to say there will be some players with a point to prove when his old side meets his new one in a few weeks.

Bombay seeking Prem 2 coach
The Bombay Rugby Club is on the look-out for a coach for their Premier 2 side after the previously appointed coach was forced to pull out due to work commitments.
The club is also searching for potential physios for the season.
Interested parties should contact Jeff Marr on 021 774 405 or

Change on the horizon for Prem 1?
The drums are beating for a new structure to club rugby after it was confirmed that Waiuku will be joining Onewhero in not fielding a Premier 2 side this season.
While both clubs have been given exemption to compete in Prem 1 (current by-laws state a club must field teams in both grades to be Prem 1 eligible) there is a push to see a reduction in clubs in Prem 1 moving forward to allow for a later start to the season and for bye weeks at Easter and Queens Birthday.
More discussion will take place at the April Council of Delegates meeting.

New captain for Patumahoe
Veteran loose forward Tamati Fromm will captain Patumahoe in the 2020 McNamara Cup.
Fromm is a natural leader and has been chosen by incoming head coach Siua Pole as the man to lead the side as they look to get back to finals football in 2020.

Keep an eye out for…
Some new social media content that will be wheeled out over the coming weeks.
Representatives from the nine premier clubs attended the official McNamara Cup season launch on Monday night and created some entertaining gifs that will be used on social media this season.
It is fair to say the players expressed themselves well.

A new feature to club rugby coverage this season will be the Around the Grounds news story published each Thursday. We will give you the latest from the rumour mill as well as breaking stories and things that may be missed by traditional news outlets.
The column is supported by Counties Manukau Rugby but the individual stories are not official communication from the union and remain the responsibility of the author.
If you have a story to contribute or a hot tip – send a brief email to the editor via