Mitre 10 Cup Preview: Hawke’s Bay 2020

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Coach: Mark Ozich

Home ground: McLean Park, Napier

2019: Second in Championship (beaten finalist)

 

Talking points

Stacked full of game-breaking talent out wide, Hawke’s Bay have added some firepower upfront with the return of cult hero prop Sona Taumalolo and former All Blacks lock Bryn Evans to the pack. While the return of Evans and Taumololo will solidify the Magpies tight five, it is the potential of the loose forward trio that will get Hawke’s Bay fans really licking their lips. In Gareth Evans, Devan Flanders and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, the Magpies have the makings of one of the most powerful loose forward trios in the competition. To complete the Magpies smart recruiting in 2020, sevens star Kurt Baker and former Auckland wing Lolagi Visinia will add proven class to the outside back division.

 

Player to watch

Stuck behind Aaron Smith in the pecking order at the Highlanders, livewire halfback Folau Fakatava has not quite had the opportunity many would have hoped to showcase his undoubted talent. Aged just 20 and with two years’ experience in the Highlanders environment behind him, Fakatava is poised to make his mark on the national stage this year. With laser-like service and rapid speed off the mark, Fakatava has all the attributes a modern-day halfback requires. A slippery runner with ball in hand, the former Hastings Boys High School First XV standout will need to be watched closely by all opposing teams.  

 

Incoming players

Sona Taumalolo, Bryn Evans, Kurt Baker, Lolagi Visinia

 

Outgoing players

Ben May, Michael Allardice, Tiaan Falcon

 

Hawke’s Bay squad

Joe Apikotoa, Kurt Baker, Geoff Cridge, Jacob Devery, Ash Dixon, Mason Emerson, Gareth Evans, Bryn Evans, Folau Fakatava, Devan Flanders, Neria Fomai, Solomone Funaki, Joel Hintz, Stacey Ili, Josh Kaifa, Kianu Kereu-Symes, Jason Long, Jonah Lowe, Caleb Makene, Iakopo Mapu, Elijah Martin, Lincoln McClutchie, Connor McLeod, Sam McNicol, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Brendon O’Connor, Tom Parsons, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Ollie Sapsford, Sona Taumalolo, Danny Toala, Will Tremain, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Lolagi Visinia, Sebastian Visinia, Namatahi Waa, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brad Weber

 

Hawke’s Bay fixtures

 

Southland v Hawke’s Bay

Sunday 13 September

4.35pm, Rugby Park, Invercargill

 

Hawke’s Bay v Counties Manukau

Sunday 20 September

2.05pm, McLean Park

 

Hawke’s Bay v Canterbury

Saturday 26 September

7.05pm, McLean Park

 

Otago v Hawke’s Bay

Sunday 4 November

4.35pm, Forsyth Barr Stadium

 

North Harbour v Hawke’s Bay

Sunday 11 November

2.05pm, North Harbour Stadium

 

Hawke’s Bay v Northland

Friday 16 October

7.05pm, McLean Park

 

Hawke’s Bay v Manawatu

Saturday 24 October

4.35pm, McLean Park

 

Bay of Plenty v Hawke’s Bay

Sunday 1 November

2.05pm, Tauranga Domain

 

Hawke’s Bay v Wellington

Sunday 8 November

2.05pm, McLean Park

 

Taranaki v Hawke’s Bay

Sunday 15 November

2.05pm, TET Stadium, Inglewood