Super Rugby blemish 'not a worry'

By Anendra Singh

Auckland boast 14 Super Rugby players but assistant coach Paul Feeney says worry not ahead of tonight's match.

"We're on our own campaign from Super Rugby where we have our own coaching staff and management," Feeney said after an abysmal Blues franchise season that brought apathy to many fans in the major union.

The Hawke's Magpies have 10 in tonight's 7.35pm kick off at McLean Park, Napier.

"Some people might look at it that way and that's natural," said the former Bay of Plenty Steamers assistant coach last night.

"We've moved forward and all that's history."

He was happy with the blend of experience and youth in the Auckland equation with skipper Daniel Braid having 92 caps under his belt and former Hastings Boys' High School pupil and fellow ex-All Black Alby Mathewson in a pivotal role at halfback.

Centre Malakai Fekitoa, 20, is the only player not to have any Super Rugby experience and will make his debut tonight and winger Ben Lam will make his first provincial appearance.

Feeney was mindful the Magpies would be a tough proposition, akin to all other teams in the ITM Cup competition but not perturbed that in the sides' last outing the hosts humiliated the visitors.

"We're not worried about three years ago because they were different sides.

"They will be playing at home, though, in front of their crowd," he said, adding All Black winger Zac Guildford, Hurricanes flanker Karl Lowe, and Chiefs pair of Hika Elliot (on the bench) and Ben Tameifuna would be a handful.

He rubbished the TAB odds, marginally favouring Auckland to prevail.

"Look, the TAB chuck in the tight odds because they are not too sure themselves about what's happening at the start of the season," he said with a laugh.

A backline architect, Feeney said he had coached Daniel Waenga with the Steamers last season so he had a fair idea of what sort of magic the Magpies were capable of.

"We're raring to go."

He was hoping the rain would stay away and provide a firm underfoot so the backlines from sides would provide a dazzling display to leave spectators salivating for more this year.

And, no, wet weather favouring Aucklanders isn't an option.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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