Our Premier Men have completed their preseason preparations and will commence their Swindale Shield defence this weekend when they host Hutt Old Boys Marist at Evans Bay Park.
Zak Feaunati returns as head coach to build on a strong 2020 season that saw his side hoist the Swindale Shield. He will be joined in the coaching box by former internationals Fa'atonu Fili and Lua Lokotui.
The coaching team will enjoy a settled Premier squad that has seen little in the way of player movement from the team that won 11 of 14 games last season. This continuity will be a strength for the side going into the new season.
The Premiers enjoyed a preseason where they did the hard yards behind the scenes. The coaches have put an emphasis on building skills and conditioning and enter the season comfortable they have got what they wanted from the preseason programme. On the field the side has turned in convincing performances against Marist St Michael's from Rotorua at Spillane Cup and over Nelson Marist at Evans Bay just under two weeks ago.
The coaching team have named co-captains for the 2021 season, with Tom Martin being joined by veteran loose forward James Tuiatua. Tom and James have the respect of their peers and together bring complimentary leadership styles that will serve the team well.
In terms of personnel, the Premier side will start the season without exciting young pivot Aidan Morgan as he joins the Hurricanes Under 20s side in Taupo for the next two weeks. With James Proctor carrying an injury, the Evans Bay faithful can expect to see new options at first five over the first few rounds.
Keep an eye out for younger players such as Ofa Siale and Ryan Dafel who showed great promise in their first season at Marist St Pats last year. Prop Meinrad Fitisemanu is returning after an injury that derailed his 2020 campaign and looked strong around the park against Nelson Marist.
Ben Tuiatua joins his brother James in the Premier squad having returned from Melbourne. Playing in the midfield Ben scored two tries against Nelson Marist in their preseason match and will be another to watch out for.
The weather forecast for Saturday may be patchy, but supporters will no doubt be treated to an exciting opening match as our Premiers host Hutt Old Boys Marist for the Father Cleary Shield at Evans Bay Park.
||Did not play in 2019 or 2020
||Palmerston North Boys High
(Injured for the season)