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Waikohu on a roll

RUGBY

They do it all well out at Te Karaka.

GT Shearing Waikohu as a premier side play hard rugby. They are the flagship team for a club whose fans turn out in numbers and with voice to match any band of supporters, and whose aftermatch hospitality is second to none.

The last four years have been memorable for Waikohu — grand finalists for the first time in 2017, Lee Brothers Shield champions a year later, knocked out by YMP in the sudden-death semifinal last July and holders of the Barry Cup, symbol of sub-union supremacy. Having defended the Cup five times last year and still holding it at the end of the season, Waikohu earned the right to have their name engraved on it.

Guiding Waikohu in the Civil Project Solutions Premier Grade this year will be first-year head coach Ra Broughton, who has family ties to Whatatutu.

The 32-year-old former Gisborne Boys’ High School first 15 member played halfback for Horowhenua-Kapiti (20 caps) and played nine games for the New Zealand Defence Force.

“Waikohu is community-driven: the club’s a hub,” said Broughton, who was encouraged to take on his new role by captain and hooker Geoff Pari, who heads up a senior leadership group with a two-three split between forwards and backs.

“Geoff takes the forwards for us and he’s got many good qualities,” Broughton said.

“He’s approachable and positive, and is a down-to-earth, calming influence . . .

with his experience and background in the club, players respond to that.”

There is great enthusiasm for rugby at Waikohu. Forty players turned out to train before the Ngatapa 10s tournament and the lockdown.

Strongman Jarryd Broughton will return to Waikohu’s ranks at tighthead prop. Adrian Wyrill — who scored for OBM in the 2019 grand final — and Kupu Lloyd, formerly of High School Old Boys, will bolster the back row.

First five-eighth Tione Hubbard was part of a very good Hawke’s Bay Maori side last year, and the superbly skilful Kelvin Smith, Tane McGuire and Ethine Reeves have the versatility to cover all positions from 10 to 15.

Jesse Fleming will coach the Waikohu backs and play himself, having missed the majority of 2019 with first a broken finger and then a broken collarbone.

Ra Broughton spoke of the special value he and his squad place on the expertise of Poverty Bay Heartland head coach Tom Cairns.

“The boys feel as if we’re being recognised by the union, with the head coach coming out to team training,” Broughton said.

“The guys are like sponges; they lap up his knowledge. He’s also helped me to profile players’ strengths, to plan and build a foundation for them.”

Keen coaches are like gold; hard-working players also have a major impact on those around them. Adrian Wyrill, winner of the Paul Sceats Memorial Cup as Poverty Bay’s Player of the Year in 2019, was outstanding for OBM and is now ready for a big season with Waikohu.

“From what I’ve experienced, Waikohu is a family-oriented, welcoming and humble club,” Wyrill said.

“These people show respect where respect is due, no matter who you are.”

BREAKING AWAY: Jesse Fleming, of Waikohu, tries to step out of a tackle by High School Old Boys midfield back Hayden Stuart on Tiny White Day last year. Fleming missed much of last season through injury but returns to the field this year and will coach the Waikohu backs. Picture by Paul Rickard