PIRATES had the motivation of ending a 58-year drought when they beat YMP in last year’s Lee Brothers Shield Poverty Bay premier club rugby final.
Tomorrow they want to cap their 60th anniversary as a club with back-to-back shield wins in their third consecutive final against the Magpies.
“Last year we were playing for our future. Tomorrow it’s not about retaining the shield but winning it and continuing what we started last year,” said Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates chairman, president and premier team manager Pat Makiri.
“Henry (coach Henry Maxwell) has always stressed that it is harder to retain a trophy than win it for the first time.
“As the playing-through champions, we’re the team everyone else wants to beat. We’ve noticed this year that all the other teams have raised their game whenever they played us.
“We have the utmost respect for YMP. They have a tremendous history but that won’t stop us from going to war . . . without the fighting.
“I know they won’t be holding anything back. It’s going to be a huge battle for 80 minutes.”
Maxwell has made some tough calls in naming his starting 15.
In recent weeks the former New Zealand Maori prop has left some “big forward guns”, including skipper and lock Willie Waitoa, Jason Tuapawa (lock) and loose forwards Juston Allen and Donny Mill, on the bench — bringing them on in the second half.
All four will start tomorrow with Allen at blindside flanker and Mill wearing the No.7 jersey. It is particularly hard on Temini Smiler and Willie Bollingford, who have been regular starters this season.
“I always feel for anyone who misses out but the boys know the club always comes before individuals,” said Maxwell. “The guys who are on the bench, as well as those who have not made the 22, are every much a part of this game as the rest. We wouldn’t be in the final without them.”
YMP coach Denzil Moeke said his team picked itself after last week’s epic semifinal, won after two periods of extra time against a desperately unlucky OBM.
“We’ll start with the same 15 who took the field last weekend,” Moeke said.
“We watched Pirates play before us and then I saw some of their players watch us, so there’s no point in mucking about with the team. We know each other too well.”
That means no room in the run-on side for first five Brad Turei, who kept his side’s title hopes alive with pressure penalty kicks in the last seconds of normal time and the first period of extra time.
“Brad will definitely play a part in the game,” said Moeke. “But we feel Willie Brown is better suited to starting this game.
“Willie has the experience and without taking anything away from Brad, is more structured.
“Brad is your typical YMP back. He loves to run the ball and is dangerous when he does. He showed that last week when he came on. He gave us a sharper edge to our attack.”