Rugby: Tim's turn to cut teeth

By Anendra Singh

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Mike Coman
Mike Coman

With all the hype surrounding the release of made-for-TV Sharknado this week on Prime one can certainly be forgiven for losing a degree of perspective on reality.

How plausible is it that waterspouts - that is, funnel-shaped clouds - can lift sharks out of the ocean before depositing them in Los Angeles to cause mayhem?

It seems only in America and, of course, in the scripts of Follywood.

What cannot be disputed, though, is that all sharks have multiple rows of teeth and while they have a tendency of losing them regularly, new ones sprout as replacements.

Now that analogy rings true of the Tasman Makos as they prepare to host the Hawke's Bay Magpies at Trafalgar Park, Nelson, from 2.35pm on Sunday in their ITM Cup rugby match.

The Makos lost Mike Coman to other regions before the loosie from Marlborough ended up becoming the Magpies skipper.

Enter brother Ben Coman who played for Tasman and is in the Buller matrix these days.

Now Makos coach Kieran Keane reveals another Coman, schoolboy Tim, was training with the Tasman squad last night.

"He's with the Waimea Old Boys XV training with us today so, hopefully, he hasn't been passing on too much information his brother in Hawke's Bay," says former Magpies coach Keane who was at the helm here from 2002-04.

Founder president of Tasman and life member John Goodman, whose son Andrew was Tasman captain last season, says Mike Coman drifted south to Canterbury to study before mapping a career path from there.

"The Coman boys have all played or are playing for Waimea and are a well-known rugby family here," says Goodman of the Comans who live in Richmond, about 10km south of Nelson.

"We were disappointed to lose Mike but good on him because those days are gone. People have to go away to build a career these days."

Goodman played against Coman's grandfather, Bill, 80, who was in Napier last Sunday to watch the Magpies perform a Houdini act in a come-from-behind 31-26 win over Northland.

He also coached Mike's father, Gordon, who was No8 and captain for Nelson Bays before a merger with sub-union Marlborough to form Tasman in 2006.

Sunday's game should be another nail-biter after the Magpies leapfrogged the Tasman to the top of the second-tier Championship table in a bid to regain promotion to the Premiership in the NPC competition.

The TAB has Tasman as the $1.65 favourites over the visitors ($2.15) but Keane reckons he and fellow former All Black Leon MacDonald, his assistant, and the players aren't buying into any of that.

"We don't seem to be doing well when we're favourites. We do better when we're rank outsiders but it's something we just have to live with."

Goodman, a retired school principal, laughs when asked about the coaching combination, especially wily old campaigner Keane.

"KK [Keane] is one of the top coaches in the country and is probably underrated by many. He and Leon are very good and the boys respond to them so they have built up a good culture.

"He [Keane] knows his rugby inside, out so he'll have something up his sleeve for Sunday except we don't what it is," he says, adding MacDonald is more adept in coaching under Keane.

The hosts have the services of linchpin Marty Banks who has amassed 51 points to date this season in the Championship.

Magpies counterpart Ihaia West has mustered 75 points.

Tasman winger James Lowe also knows how to finish, scoring five tries this winter.

The Makos sit a point below the Magpies on 15 points although the latter have played six games to the former's five.

In their past two outings, Tasman Makos have prevailed over Hawke's Bay - 21-19 in Napier in 2011 and 21-7 in Blenheim in 2010.

It was a Black Friday last week for Tasman at Albany Stadium where they lost 23-12 to North Harbour, gifting the northerners their first win of the season.

Failing to "turn up at the park", the Makos paid the price.

"We're still trying to find our feet," Keane says. "We had two good wins and a couple of losses and our last game was an average performance."

Fundamentally, he likes to believe it's about "getting back on the horse again".

While the intensity of the game is hard to overlook, it's early days to be looking nervously at the points table.

"We want to be back on an even keel, to use the old cliche.

"Hawke's Bay are a very good and very passionate team. I have some good connections there and have had some great moments so it's always a challenge to play them."

Keane says having beaten the Magpies in two previous encounters, perhaps his troops will view Sunday's game as a three-peat effort.

"But if we don't turn up [at Shark Park] we're going to come up second."

Keane says the Tasman, who have never played in the Premiership, have niggly injuries like every other team but coping, after losing to Otago in last year's Championship semifinals in another agonising failed bid to gain promotion.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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