Kī-o-rahi heavyweights prepare to make history

updated By James Perry

Defending champions Ngā Tapuwae weren't feeling any added pressure as they began their quest for a third national kī-o-rahi title today.

Co-captain Jean-Luc Honetana says the team's main objective is to play a strong game on the field.  Do that, he says and it'll be job done.

While he says they don't feel any added pressure in their quest to be the first school to win three national titles, he does admit they feel like other teams have them in their sights.

However, Honetana says his team is maintaining focus on the games ahead of them rather than worrying about how other teams are plotting to take them down. 

Te Wharekura o Raakaumanga is one such team.

Two-time nationals champions themselves, they have been runners up to Ngā Tapuwae in each of the last two years, and they are desperate to put a stop to that run this year. 

Raakaumanga player Hawaikii Maipi says Ngā Tapuwae have a different style of play to most other schools and they have been planning and practising a style of play they hope can see them go one better should Ngā Tapuwae stand between them and national glory once again.

Teammate, Te Ohomauri Rapana says the Huntly team have practiced every lunchtime and as often as possible to develop their skills and to make sure they arrive in Huntly as a united force.

Jean-Luc Honetana, however, says Ngā Tapuwae has also been training harder this year than they have previously.  Just like their Waikato rivals, they have had an increase in training, and have spent time working on conditioning in the gym.

The finals day of the kī-o-rahi nationals gets underway tomorrow morning at Hawke's Bay Sports Park, Hastings. 

The Top eight teams will be announced on Monday night.