Unfinished business

Rico Gear and Jake Paringatai available for Heartland

Rico Gear and Jake Paringatai available for Heartland

Rico Gear. File picture.
Jake Paringatai. File photo.

POVERTY Bay coach Mutu Ngarimu is delighted former All Black Rico Gear and former Maori All Black Jake Paringatai have made themselves available for this season’s Heartland Championship.

“To have players of this calibre put their hands up to play for the Bay is fantastic,” Ngarimu said. “Their experience would be invaluable and not just from a playing point of view. They’ve both played at the highest level here and overseas, and know what’s required to succeed. What they can teach the players on the training paddock will make better players of those who listen and learn.”

Gear, Ngarimu’s assistant coach last year, stepped down this season to focus on setting up a new business.

“We (Gear and fiancée Rebecca Miles) help people achieve their health and wellness goals,” said the 38-year-old, who had a season for the Bay in 2014. “It’s an online programme which we do from home and that gives us the flexibility regarding the hours we work.

“To be fair, I’m not sure how many games I will be available to play but, for sure, if I can help Mutu and the team, I’d love to be involved. The body is good. I’ve been working on my fitness.”

Gear and Paringatai came on as second-half substitutes for Waikohu in their 16-12 premier club competition loss to Ngatapa on Saturday.

“Tahi (Hiroki, Waikohu coach) is a cousin and a passionate coach. Mum (Annie), was schooled out there and I spent a lot of my early days playing with the cuzzies. It was great to play especially as it was Waikohu’s 100th celebrations. Unfortunately I won’t be available this weekend (against YMP). That means if Waikohu make the playoffs and I was needed, I’d have to play in the last two games (OBM and Pirates) before the semis.”

This will be Mount Maunganui-based Paringatai’s third season with the Bay. He was the player of the year in 2014 but that was overshadowed by Bay losing 29-22 to Mid Canterbury in the Meads Cup semifinals.

Paringatai was “gutted” and said after the match that the loss left a sour taste in his mouth and he wanted to return and win the Meads Cup. He came back but the Bay fell well short of that Meads Cup objective, finishing second bottom.

“Jake still has unfinished business and he didn’t hesitate to come back again this year when we asked him,” said Ngarimu, who will also have Everard Reid, another key member of the 2014 squad. Lock Reid transferred from Hawke’s Bay to play for Pirates.

Loan players needed to win cup

Like many Bay coaches before him, Ngarimu said he would love to field an all-local team. But to win the Meads Cup, coaches needed the best of the local talent combined with strong loan players.

Ngarimu fielded an all-local line-up against Ngati Porou East Coast in the Queen’s Birthday clash at Ruatoria and lost. Some showed they had what it takes to play to make the step to Heartland rugby while others fell by the wayside.

“The bulk of the squad will always be local players but the reality is we need loan players in key positions. But I want the loan boys to buy into our culture,” Ngarimu said. “I’ll name the Heartland squad after the club final (July 30). We’ll have a weekend camp and one of the things we’ll be introducing this season is our own haka, which Derek Lardelli will compose.

“I want the players to be proud of where they come from and who they are playing for. The haka will give us more identity and it will be a legacy that we can leave for future Bay teams from age-group to Heartland level.

“Team culture has been a big part of all the teams I’ve played for and you only have to look at the culture that Wayne Ensor has instilled at HSOB. They’ve set the benchmark for all the premier teams in this past few seasons. It wasn’t that long ago that HSOB were struggling for numbers. Now they’re one of the strongest clubs, if not the strongest, in the district.”

Local players 'backbone' of the team

Ngarimu said while loan players often grabbed the headlines, the importance of local players should never be underestimated.

“Local players are the backbone of the team. Without them you don’t have a team, especially guys like Sione Ngatu — the Bay's most capped player — Muzza (Murray Hewson) and others. I’m looking for a core group of senior players to take on a leadership role for the younger guys.

“Things are falling into place. I’m expecting some guys who have been injured to be back in action in the next couple of weeks.”

These include flanker James Grogan (OBM) and No.8 Siosiua Moala (HSOB).

“I’ve got a few more irons in the fire regarding players so it’s a case of watch this space.”

POVERTY Bay coach Mutu Ngarimu is delighted former All Black Rico Gear and former Maori All Black Jake Paringatai have made themselves available for this season’s Heartland Championship.

“To have players of this calibre put their hands up to play for the Bay is fantastic,” Ngarimu said. “Their experience would be invaluable and not just from a playing point of view. They’ve both played at the highest level here and overseas, and know what’s required to succeed. What they can teach the players on the training paddock will make better players of those who listen and learn.”

Gear, Ngarimu’s assistant coach last year, stepped down this season to focus on setting up a new business.

“We (Gear and fiancée Rebecca Miles) help people achieve their health and wellness goals,” said the 38-year-old, who had a season for the Bay in 2014. “It’s an online programme which we do from home and that gives us the flexibility regarding the hours we work.

“To be fair, I’m not sure how many games I will be available to play but, for sure, if I can help Mutu and the team, I’d love to be involved. The body is good. I’ve been working on my fitness.”

Gear and Paringatai came on as second-half substitutes for Waikohu in their 16-12 premier club competition loss to Ngatapa on Saturday.

“Tahi (Hiroki, Waikohu coach) is a cousin and a passionate coach. Mum (Annie), was schooled out there and I spent a lot of my early days playing with the cuzzies. It was great to play especially as it was Waikohu’s 100th celebrations. Unfortunately I won’t be available this weekend (against YMP). That means if Waikohu make the playoffs and I was needed, I’d have to play in the last two games (OBM and Pirates) before the semis.”

This will be Mount Maunganui-based Paringatai’s third season with the Bay. He was the player of the year in 2014 but that was overshadowed by Bay losing 29-22 to Mid Canterbury in the Meads Cup semifinals.

Paringatai was “gutted” and said after the match that the loss left a sour taste in his mouth and he wanted to return and win the Meads Cup. He came back but the Bay fell well short of that Meads Cup objective, finishing second bottom.

“Jake still has unfinished business and he didn’t hesitate to come back again this year when we asked him,” said Ngarimu, who will also have Everard Reid, another key member of the 2014 squad. Lock Reid transferred from Hawke’s Bay to play for Pirates.

Loan players needed to win cup

Like many Bay coaches before him, Ngarimu said he would love to field an all-local team. But to win the Meads Cup, coaches needed the best of the local talent combined with strong loan players.

Ngarimu fielded an all-local line-up against Ngati Porou East Coast in the Queen’s Birthday clash at Ruatoria and lost. Some showed they had what it takes to play to make the step to Heartland rugby while others fell by the wayside.

“The bulk of the squad will always be local players but the reality is we need loan players in key positions. But I want the loan boys to buy into our culture,” Ngarimu said. “I’ll name the Heartland squad after the club final (July 30). We’ll have a weekend camp and one of the things we’ll be introducing this season is our own haka, which Derek Lardelli will compose.

“I want the players to be proud of where they come from and who they are playing for. The haka will give us more identity and it will be a legacy that we can leave for future Bay teams from age-group to Heartland level.

“Team culture has been a big part of all the teams I’ve played for and you only have to look at the culture that Wayne Ensor has instilled at HSOB. They’ve set the benchmark for all the premier teams in this past few seasons. It wasn’t that long ago that HSOB were struggling for numbers. Now they’re one of the strongest clubs, if not the strongest, in the district.”

Local players 'backbone' of the team

Ngarimu said while loan players often grabbed the headlines, the importance of local players should never be underestimated.

“Local players are the backbone of the team. Without them you don’t have a team, especially guys like Sione Ngatu — the Bay's most capped player — Muzza (Murray Hewson) and others. I’m looking for a core group of senior players to take on a leadership role for the younger guys.

“Things are falling into place. I’m expecting some guys who have been injured to be back in action in the next couple of weeks.”

These include flanker James Grogan (OBM) and No.8 Siosiua Moala (HSOB).

“I’ve got a few more irons in the fire regarding players so it’s a case of watch this space.”

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