TOM Miki collected his eighth Lee Brothers Shield winner’s medal on Saturday when Kevin Hollis Glass Pirates beat YMP 20-8 in the final. He now shares the record for shield victories with YMP’s Ron Tamatea.
Although both are coming to the end of their great careers, neither plans to retire and so the battle will resume next year to see who will be the first to reach nine.
Tamatea (51) was a second-half replacement for Steven Busher at the weekend but, despite injecting fire into the Magpies, he could not stop Miki and Pirates making it two titles in succession.
“They deserved to win; they were the better team on the day,” Tamatea said.
“But we have a lot of good young players coming through and if we can keep them together for next year there’s no reason we can’t be in the final again.
“I’ve always said I would keep playing as long as the body holds out and I’m still enjoying training and playing with the boys.
“So at this stage, yeah, I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Tamatea won his first championship medal in 1986 when YMP beat Old Boys and his last in the club’s 100th anniversary in 2010 when YMP beat Pirates.
“This year was the third year in a row we’ve played each other, which is awesome for both clubs.”
Miki, who won four rugby league championships with Kaiti Devils and Uawa before switching to union, collected his first winner’s gong in 1997 with OBM. He won five straight championships with OBM from 2000-2004.
The soon-to-be 48-year-old prop joined Pirates in 2010 and helped them win their first final.
“I never thought of it (how many championships) until someone asked me,” Miki said.
“But I’m sure Ronnie would say the same. It’s not about the medals, or who has the most.
“It’s playing for the love of the game and the camaraderie, and playing it as long as we can. You’re a long time retired.”
Although Pirates and YMP have been the benchmark in the past two seasons, OBM beat both twice in round-robin play.
“Stu Blair did a great job with OBM this year and I called him to congratulate him,” Miki said.
“At times he struggled for numbers but managed to bring back some of the old guard, players like Sammy Cairns, and I actually thought they would make the final.”
OBM lost to YMP after two periods of extra time in the sudden-death semifinal.