Bay Of Plenty look to go one better in 2018

Tuesday, August 7, 2018    

Coached again by Clayton McMillan, the side has a solid base of experience and a healthy infusion of local talent that has come through the Bay of Plenty Academy and club system.

Twelve players have been involved in Investec Super Rugby, four have been All Blacks, three have been All Blacks Sevens players, while there is one Maori All Black and two New Zealand Under-20s players.

Tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys is one of the more peripatetic players in rugby and having been part of the Sharks Super Rugby side this year, he holds the record of playing for most provinces in South Africa with eight of the 14 available sides, and has previously played for Tasman and the Highlanders in New Zealand. 

Tom McHugh has joined the side from Auckland where he debuted in 2015 and has 14 appearances for the side while Tevita Mafileo joins the side after being part of the New Zealand Under-20 World Cup winning side from this year.

Although Sam Cane has been named among the loose forwards he is unlikely to feature due to All Blacks commitments. But in Hugh Blake they have an experienced international campaigner having played for Scotland in a Test and at Sevens level during stints with Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriers. Before his Scottish sojourn he had played 16 games for Otago while the former NZ Under-20 player featured in all 12 games last year for Bay of Plenty to complete 20 appearances for the side.

With Mitchell Karpik and Tanerau Latimer also available the side should be well served in the loose. Missing from last year's side is No.8 Jesse Parete.

In the backs, NZ Under-20 first five-eighths Kaleb Trask has been included along with veteran and Super Rugby-winning Crusader Mike Delany and former Waikato player Jason Robertson, who has returned to Mt Maunganui after a stint in Japan. Trask also has the ability to play fullback.

Back at halfback for a second season will be Richard Judd. Formerly a Thames Valley and Counties Manukau representative, he played 10 games for the side last year and featured for the Hurricanes earlier this season. He will be joined by Luke Campbell, who had a fine club combination with Robertson for Te Puke Sports this year.

Making an appearance in the backline will be New Zealand Sevens representative and former Tasman star Trael Joass while Lalakai Foketi and Terrence Hepetema offer some emerging experience in the midfield where Liam Steel will also be available.

Dominating the experience among the outside backs will be Chase Tiatia with Matthew Garland, Fa'asui Fuatai and Bailey Simonsson all relative newcomers.

The side opens its campaign in Rotorua on Saturday, August 18.

The Bay of Plenty squad is: Nathan Harris (29 games), Liam Polwart (14), Sabastian Siataga (13), Ross Geldenhuys (0), James Lay (10), Tevita Mafileo (0), Tom McHugh (0), Aidan Ross (24), Solomona Sakalia (33), Jeff Thwaites (21), Tyler Ardron (7), Kane Le'aupepe (0), Baden Wardlaw (1), Hugh Blake (20), Sam Cane (19), Mitchell Karpik (6), Tanerau Latimer (79), Aileone Junior Lafaele-Mua (1), Hoani Matenga (0), Luke Campbell (16), Richard Judd (10), Mike Delany (72), Jason Robertson (0), Lalakai Foketi (30), Terrence Hepetema (19), Liam Steel (4), Trael Joass (0), Matthew Garland (3), Fa'asui Fuatai (0), Kaleb Trask (0), Bailey Simonsson (0), Chase Tiatia (26