Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Homecoming for Hepetema against Wellington

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TOP FORM: Terrence Hepetema celebrates after scoring for Bay of Plenty against Northland in Rotorua last Friday. Photo/File
TOP FORM: Terrence Hepetema celebrates after scoring for Bay of Plenty against Northland in Rotorua last Friday. Photo/File

When Terrence Hepetema was growing up in Wellington he used to drive past Westpac Stadium, dreaming of playing there one day in front of a big crowd.

After joining up with Bay of Plenty last year, Hepetema, 24, is finally set to get his opportunity when the Steamers take on the Wellington Lions tomorrow night (kick-off 7.35pm).

The creative midfielder had been a consistently good performer for the Steamers in the four games played in the Mitre 10 Cup so far.

But he was far from complacent about how things had gone for him personally and the team.

He had approached this week's training as he always did.

"I have been trying to go through my processes and just focusing on what I can do best for the team," Hepetema said.

"Obviously in the back of the mind it is really exciting to play there.

As a kid I always wanted to and that was the aspiration growing up in Wellington. It has always been something I wanted to do.

"When the time comes and I end up running out there and seeing the family in the stands it is going to be special. I guess I will wait until after the game to let it sink in."

Hepetema played in the same First XV at Mana College with All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara, who played a part in convincing Hepetema to sign for Bay of Plenty when he was with the Leicester Tigers in England.

"He is my best mate and I want to catch up with him on Sunday," Hepetema said.

"I am very proud of what he has achieved but I just want to focus on what I can do well. I am not TJ. All I can do is put my best foot forward."

Hepetema said the Steamers needed to be more consistent against Wellington.

"We have played well in patches. We played well against Taranaki, started well against Counties and had a lapse, and against Otago we couldn't quite get the job done.

"Northland was probably the first time we have strung together an 80-minute performance together but we are not quite there just yet.

"We don't think about being favourites or the underdogs. We always think we have a chance and every game is there for the taking."

Life in the Bay of Plenty certainly agreed with Hepetema, who loved playing for the Steamers and club side Te Puna.

"Obviously growing up in Wellington it is a big system with lots of clubs and people from different areas. But here it feels like a real family environment.

"I really love the environment at Te Puna. It is really close and they are really helpful when it comes to off-field stuff, whether that be personal matters or stuff in the community.

"I am really enjoying it."

Bay of Plenty Steamers team to play Wellington will be announced at 4pm today on bayofplentytimes.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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