FINS UP-TASMAN MAKO STALKING MORE PREY

Tasman Mako rugby co-head coaches Gray Cornelius and Dan Perrin along with assistant coaches James Marshall and Hoani MacDonald, have huge expectations heading into their first National Provincial Championship season in charge of what is now a New Zealand rugby powerhouse.

Established in 2006 after a rocky road leading up to the partnership between two previously bitter rivals in Marlborough and Nelson Bays, the Mako battled through their early years both on-field with inconsistent performances and off-field battling financial problems.

However having twice survived the axe threatened by the New Zealand Rugby Union, Tasman have gone from strength to strength and are now recognised as the team to beat in the NPC, alongside Canterbury in this competition. In 2013 they won the Championship title then in 2019 and 2020 went back to back taking out premiership titles and last year were narrowly pipped in the grand final by Taranaki.

Tasman Mako co-coach Gray Cornelius and he’s confident his team has the depth and ability to mount another very strong title challenge.

This year’s squad is stacked full of Super rugby talent and looks on paper anyway, likely to again be one of the main title-winning contenders.

Captaining the side are two seasoned campaigners at Super rugby level, lock Quentin Strange and first-five Mitch Hunt, both Nelson products. Veteran hooker Quentin MacDonald, a Mako centurion, is back along with two other Super rugby guns, Andrew Makalio and Sam Moli. 

Sam’s brother, former All Black prop Atu Moli is also in the side.

There’s a very strong mid-field led by Chiefs star Alex Nakivell alongside Highlanders gun Fetuli Paea and Moana Pasifika powerhouse Levi Aumua. New Zealand under 20 halfback Noah Hotham is a talented newcomer as is his New Zealand under 20 team-mate, winger Macca Springer.

Max Hicks made a big late season impression at the Highlanders, the lock/flanker being good enough to make there New Zealand Maori team against Ireland.

asman Mako rugby co-head coaches Gray Cornelius and Dan Perrin have huge expectations heading into their first National Provincial Championship season in charge of what is now a New Zealand rugby powerhouse.
Quinten Strange, right, seen in action with Quentin MacDonald last year, will co-captain the Tasman Mako this year with Mitch Hunt.

Tasman has not only become a Super Rugby development machine, they also have current All Blacks, unfortunately though they are not available for the NPC because of test duties. They are Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Findlay Christie, Leicester Fainga’anuku, David Havili, Shannon Frizell, Tyrel Lomax while another All Black Ethan Blackadder is out injured.

Joining us on AbsolutelyFamous is Tasman Mako co-coach Gray Cornelius and he’s confident his team has the depth and ability to mount another very strong title challenge.

Gray has done his apprenticeship being the Marlborough Boys College first 15 coach for several seasons during which time they won the coveted Press cup and he’s served as an assistant Mako coach under previous head coaches Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody.

Tasman Mako campaign kicks off on Sunday August 7 at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim against Southland.

Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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