Grogan's heroes

LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Flanker James Grogan scores a try against Hawke’s Bay Saracens in a warm-up game for the Heartland Championship season, which starts on Saturday. Grogan has been in excellent form for club and province and has been confirmed as the Bay captain for the season, replacing Hawke’s Bay-based Everard Reid. Picture by Paul Rickard

JAMES Grogan has replaced Everard Reid as captain of the Poverty Bay team for their 2017 Heartland Championship campaign.

But Bay coach Mana Otai is quick to point out that Grogan, who has battled back from a knee reconstruction, will have the full support of Hawke’s Bay-based Reid, who will start in Saturday’s opening game against Mid Canterbury in Ashburton.

“Everard’s family commitments meant he was struggling to get to Tuesday night’s training sessions and it was a management decision that we would go with James as captain,” said former Tonga national team coach Otai.

“It was a case of team ahead of the individual. And such is the mana of Everard that he fully backed James appointment.

“It’s huge ups for Everard, who, with his experience, will obviously be a key player on and off the field.”

Otai said the captain had to command his position and Grogan had shown with his skills, commitment and character that he would make a good leader.

“James is an astute young man, who has a good understanding of the game.

“He coached the OBM forwards during his recovery from a knee injury and that will stand him in good stead.

“He showed a lot of character and a professional approach to get his body back in shape after his knee injury.

“One of the things that impressed me was that despite missing most of the club season he continued to turn up to our training sessions. He was always asking questions, looking to improve his game and his understanding of the game.

“He’s also got the respect of his peers and that’s always a good sign for a captain.”

Grogan, who led the Bay on a couple of occasions last season, said he was honoured to be asked by Otai to lead the side.

“Mana has brought all his experience as an international coach and there’s a real professional approach this season,” said 21-year-old Grogan.

“I’m also lucky to have a lot of senior players, including Everard, Sione (Ngatu), Siosiua (Moala) and Willis (Tamatea) to turn to for advice and support. We’ve had a good start, a couple of wins in our pre-season games, which is always good although we’re not getting carried away.

“We’ll get a better idea of where we’re at this weekend. Mid Canterbury is going to be a hard first-up game.”

Former Heartland under-19 representative team member Grogan said the goal of playing for the Heartland 15 side at the end of the season side was a driving factor in his bid to make the Bay squad.

“But the only way that’s going to happen is if I play well for the Bay, and that’s all I’m focused on at the moment.

“I have to thank Morgan Mills from Physio-4-Life for all his work during my rehab.”

Otai said the wins against Wairarapa Bush and Hawke’s Bay Sacarens were good for morale but “that’s all”.

“Those games and the work we have been doing was all about building for this weekend.

“It’s important we keep the feet on the ground.”

JAMES Grogan has replaced Everard Reid as captain of the Poverty Bay team for their 2017 Heartland Championship campaign.

But Bay coach Mana Otai is quick to point out that Grogan, who has battled back from a knee reconstruction, will have the full support of Hawke’s Bay-based Reid, who will start in Saturday’s opening game against Mid Canterbury in Ashburton.

“Everard’s family commitments meant he was struggling to get to Tuesday night’s training sessions and it was a management decision that we would go with James as captain,” said former Tonga national team coach Otai.

“It was a case of team ahead of the individual. And such is the mana of Everard that he fully backed James appointment.

“It’s huge ups for Everard, who, with his experience, will obviously be a key player on and off the field.”

Otai said the captain had to command his position and Grogan had shown with his skills, commitment and character that he would make a good leader.

“James is an astute young man, who has a good understanding of the game.

“He coached the OBM forwards during his recovery from a knee injury and that will stand him in good stead.

“He showed a lot of character and a professional approach to get his body back in shape after his knee injury.

“One of the things that impressed me was that despite missing most of the club season he continued to turn up to our training sessions. He was always asking questions, looking to improve his game and his understanding of the game.

“He’s also got the respect of his peers and that’s always a good sign for a captain.”

Grogan, who led the Bay on a couple of occasions last season, said he was honoured to be asked by Otai to lead the side.

“Mana has brought all his experience as an international coach and there’s a real professional approach this season,” said 21-year-old Grogan.

“I’m also lucky to have a lot of senior players, including Everard, Sione (Ngatu), Siosiua (Moala) and Willis (Tamatea) to turn to for advice and support. We’ve had a good start, a couple of wins in our pre-season games, which is always good although we’re not getting carried away.

“We’ll get a better idea of where we’re at this weekend. Mid Canterbury is going to be a hard first-up game.”

Former Heartland under-19 representative team member Grogan said the goal of playing for the Heartland 15 side at the end of the season side was a driving factor in his bid to make the Bay squad.

“But the only way that’s going to happen is if I play well for the Bay, and that’s all I’m focused on at the moment.

“I have to thank Morgan Mills from Physio-4-Life for all his work during my rehab.”

Otai said the wins against Wairarapa Bush and Hawke’s Bay Sacarens were good for morale but “that’s all”.

“Those games and the work we have been doing was all about building for this weekend.

“It’s important we keep the feet on the ground.”

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