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CEO Chat with Tony Lewis


Marist will defend their 2019 Tasman Trophy title

The 2020 Tasman Trophy is here, the best senior rugby competition in the South Island and even Wellington. This March we have had a number of our premier teams travel to Wellington or Wellington teams come to the region and we have seen dominant displays by our sides. This competition every year produces new Mako players. 

An interesting stat from the 2019 Mitre 10 Final was that there were 6 players came out of club rugby in the playing 23. The million-dollar question in 2020 is who is that player who will dominate the club scene and secure a contract and hopefully impress enough to gain a Super contract. In 2019 we had Sione Havili and Fetuli Paea, both playing leading roles in the Mako success and gaining contracts with the Crusaders. 

In 2020 we have developed a new concept in Marlborough with the Tasman Rugby Union – Marlborough Academy. The objective here is to ensure those players not selected in the Crusader Academy or new players recruited by clubs in Blenheim have the opportunity to train under the Mako Strength & Conditioning programme and coaches. 

I’m positive the quality of the rugby will enthral the spectators and introduce us to the stars of the future.

I am excited what the rugby will deliver in 2020. We have a raft of new players in the Crusader Academy and our new Marlborough Academy this year. I encourage you to watch these young players.

  • Anton Segner - Nelson
  • Tom Thornalley - Marist
  • Taya Brown – Waimea Old Boys (WOB)
  • Isaiah Malaulau - Nelson
  • Riaihe Jacobs - Nelson
  • Matt Graham Williams - Stoke
  • Taine Robinson - Stoke
  • Liam Duncan - Central
  • Ollie Lawson - Central
  • Tino Vakaloa - Central

We also have Monu Moli and Te Ariki Peipi joining into our Marlborough based programme once a week. Both boys are still at Marlborough Boys College and showing some real potential. 

In 2019 we had a group of new players in the Crusader Academy and a number have remained in the area for their second season. This is the moving year for these players, or the reality of life will take over.

  • Chris Halaufia (Flanker) – Wanderers
  • Apetone Vaka (Centre) – Wanderers
  • Campbell Parata (1st 5) – WOB
  • Max Fraine (Hooker) – WOB
  • Max Nalder (Half Back) - Stoke
  • Mitch Barry – (Half Back) Nelson
  • Saul Lewis (Full Back/ Wing) – Nelson

The players who impressed on the USA tour and to watch out for are Max Hicks (Marist), Antonio Shalfoon (Stoke), Sam Matenga (Kahurangi), Isaac Salmon and Isaiah Miller (Nelson), Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta and  Sam Lane(Stoke), Jacob Norris, Rahiri Witehira and Jamie Spowart (Marist). 

Those who are contracted or in our wider training group but were unavailable include Sam Moli and Taina Fox-Matamua (Marist) Blair Princep and Jack Grooby (Stoke), Jimmy Tavatavanawai (Central), Taine Craig-Love (Waitohi) and Mike Vaeno (Renwick).  

On a personal note I will be watching with interest the performances of Sam Briggs (Marist), Braden Stewart (Central) and Michael Stringer (WOB) as they have everything to play for in 2020.

I wish every club, player and coach the best for 2020 Tasman Trophy season. 

Please, don’t sit at home but get down to the local park and watch some brilliant Tasman Trophy rugby this Saturday and have a beverage in the club house after the game to support your local rugby club. I have watched most pre-season matches and have been really impressed across the board with the fitness, standard of play and the quality of young referees over the last three weeks.

Finally, on behalf of the staff at the TRU thank you to all the volunteers who run their local rugby clubs, without you we don’t have a rugby club or this great game to watch, consume and make comment on. We salute your fantastic efforts.

#FinzUp
Tony Lewis