QBE North Harbour Mitre 10 Cup team coach is Tom Coventry. 2018 will be his second season in charge of Harbour, before he takes on the job of forward coach at the Blues Super Rugby franchise. Tom will be hoping to build on what have been two pretty good seasons in 2016 and 2017 for the QBE Harbour team. After a few years under-performing the team has come good and it is fair to say that local rugby followers are excited. Aidan Bennett talked to him about the season ahead.
AIDAN BENNETT: What excites you about the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season?
TOM COVENTRY: We have a strong core of the 2017 squad that have been retained with some exciting new players contracted.
2018 provides an opportunity for Harbour to reinforce to the community that our results over the last two years were not an aberration, that we are the real deal and that we will again be competitive in the premier competition.
AB: Any there any new players that Harbour fans should be particularly excited about?
TC: There are a number of home grown players, including Danny Drake, Luteru Tolai, Jack Bergin and James Fiebig, who have been part of the Pathways Program and have been contracted on the back of an outstanding club season.
Lua Li will cover Harbour’s latest All Black Karl Tuinukuafe, providing the opportunity for him to get some game time with brother Tevita.New signings Jacob Pierce and Ben Nee both gained promotion to the Blues after impressing in Wider Training Group pre-season matches and with the Blues development side.
2017 All Black Dillon Hunt returns to North Harbour after an outstanding season with the Highlanders, having the third highest tackle count in Super Rugby.
AB: Quite a few of the 2017 squad have gained a lot of experience during that campaign and with Super Rugby, will that pay dividends for Harbour in 2018?
TC: Super Rugby is important in that it allows players to work in a professional environment throughout the year. However, it does present some challenges in that these players have limited prep time wth our team. We have players in all five Super Rugby franchises all coming back having played under different systems and then having to adapt to our game plans. This is challenging, however the boys are professional, have a marvellous work ethic and are all looking forward, and are extremely proud, to play for North Harbour.
AB: Why should people come and watch the QBE North Harbour Mitre 10 Cup team play in 2018?
TC: A lot of the team have grown up in the region, supporting and aspiring to play for the Mitre 10 Cup side. They now represent our schools, clubs and the community with pride whilst playing an attractive, never say die, style of footie.
QBE North Harbour Mitre 10 Cup home matches at QBE Stadium in 2018 are:- Thursday August 16th v Northland 7.35pm; Saturday September 1st v Tasman 7.35pm; Wednesday September 12th v Canterbury 7.35pm; Sunday September 16th v Bay of Plenty 2.05pm; Saturday October 6th v Counties-Manukau 5.05pm.
For more information visit: www.harbourrugby.co.nz