The McNamara Cup kicks off on Saturday with defending premiers Bombay hosting Waiuku in the Counties Power Game of the Week.
Having lifted the biggest prize in Counties Manukau club rugby five times in the past six years, Bombay doesn’t have too much left to prove.
They enter the 2020 season with a slight change to their coaching staff – head coach Jeff Marr has stepped aside and long-time assistant coach Paul Wheeler has taken the reins. Wheeler has been a big part of those championship-winning seasons and the transition is expected to be smooth.
Waiuku had a disappointing campaign in 2019 and were out of playoff calculations a number of weeks before the end of pool play. They did enjoy a much better second round however and were matching it with the leading sides in the competition during the latter part of the season, which will give them some confidence heading into the new season.
They have a new coaching combination with Vuga Tagicakibau and Buck Manning appointed as coaches.
Waiuku will rely a core of seasoned veterans this season while they will look to grow some younger local talent as well. A win over the reigning premiers would be a massive confidence boost in week one.
Pukekohe travels to Karaka for a mouth-watering contest between two sides that should find themselves in playoff contention this season.
The two clubs have enjoyed a fierce rivalry in recent seasons with some epic encounters going down to the wire.
Former Pukekohe coach Waka Setitaia has moved to Karaka this year, adding to that rivalry.
Manurewa Kidd Contracting open their campaign with a battle against near neighbours Papakura at Mountfort Park. The hosts played semi-final football the past couple of seasons and will be eager to add to their tally of 25 McNamara Cup wins but their first in 22 years.
Papakura are expected to make another step forward this season and will feel the semi-finals are a realistic goal. While they finished at the bottom of the standings last year, their performances were much improved, and they have a deeper roster this season.
Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel will host Onewhero in the final game of the round. Patumahoe is another club with a new coaching set-up – former club centurion Siua Pole has replaced Reon Graham as coach for 2020.
Patumahoe will rely on its youth pathways once again as they promote from within, having placed emphasis on its Under 21 program in recent years.
Onewhero will be primed for a big season as the club celebrates its centenary at Easter and will want to make a fast start to the competition.
Counties Power Cup holds Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors have a first up bye.
Full weekend draw available here: https://www.sporty.co.nz/cmrugbydraws