EVERARD REID considers it a privilege to be continuing his late Papa, Tori Reid's legacy, by playing rugby for East Coast.
In fact the MAC captain who will start at lock for East Coast in today's Heartland Championship Meads Cup final against Wanganui at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria is keen to move to Tokomaru Bay, the birth place of his grandfather who played 27 matches for the All Blacks and 81 for Hawke's Bay after beginning his first-class career for East Coast as a 16-year-old.
"My wife wasn't too keen. Along with our two children we're pretty settled in Bridge Pa," Reid explained while enjoying some more "East Coast hospitality" at his aunty's Tokomaru Bay home.
"Up here is my home away from home. Obviously the goal is always to make the Magpies but if I can't East Coast is a good back-up plan," Reid said.
"East Coast make all their loan players welcome and from the time I first linked up with them for a pre-season game and told them my whakapapa and link through Papa Tori they made me feel pretty special," Reid said.
The Karamu High School product claimed he was "East Coast's lucky omen."
"The one game I missed, an away trip to South Canterbury, was the only game they've lost. Every other game we've won."
Hawke's Bay raised Auckland-based referee Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri will referee today's final.
"I'm sure Sheldon will be our other lucky omen," Reid joked.
"East Coast are playing a pretty expansive game which falls into my hands. I've scored four or five tries as a result but at the same time I know the hard and dirty stuff has to be done first," Reid said.
"I don't want to elaborate on our game plan too much as the Wanganui boys might read it before kick off," Reid quipped.
"There's a lot of excitement in the countdown to the final ...I'm trying hard to keep it under the skin."
Although East Coast beat Wanganui 25-17 five weeks ago Reid pointed out there would be no complacency shown by the hosts today.
"While we have plenty of respect for Wanganui we're not focusing too much on any of their individuals. We know if we focus on our job we will do well. We also know the home advantage is an extra man for us," Reid said.
There was a chance his MAC clubmate and prop Luke Tihema might make the East Coast 22 for the final but star prop Ziggy Fisihoi has recovered from an injury and will start. Former Magpies captain and No 8 Mutu Ngarimu will be on the East Coast subs bench.
Fisihoi has the potential to be a star similar to former Magpies prop Sona Taumalolo.
"I call him the Tongan Monster. I hear Mutu is working hard to get him to play for Taradale but I hope he comes to MAC," Reid said.
While Reid, Tihema and Ngarimu are the only Hawke's Bay players on the East Coast roster he played against Havelock North loosie Tony Lamborn when the Coast beat North Otago, and Havelock North hooker Henry Yortt, Hastings Rugby and Sports halfback Adam Ross and Taradale flanker Andrew Gardner when the Coast beat neighbours Poverty Bay.
"Tony [Lamborn] was a nuisance ... just like he is when he is playing for Havelock," Reid said.
Reid is tipping Lamborn to force his way into the Magpies side within the next season or two. He has also tipped the Magpies to fight their way back to the premiership.
"They have so many good players it was sad to see them not get the results they deserve. If they take it as the kick in the backsides they needed I'm sure they will be back."
Reid has been impressed with the environment East Coast coaches Ngarimu Simpkins and Rua Tipoki have created with input from Ngarimu. There has been a big emphasis on fitness and healthy eating.
"We're nothing like the unfit Coast teams you have heard about in the past. We're all healthy eaters because of the style of play we adopt, but at the same time we make sure our visitors eat plenty ... I've never seen so much seafood at an after-match function ...
"The Hawke's Bay set up is always at the back of my mind. All the stuff Dearnsey [Magpies fitness trainer Grant Dearns] has told me."
It's easy to gauge Reid, 28, hasn't given up on his goal of making the Magpies. A top display today and an East Coast victory will enhance his chances.
It's a pity Papa Tori, who died in 2003 at the age of 91, is unable to be among the spectators who will pack the park today. His moko is doing the Reid whanau proud.