Rugby: Hewitt the big loser in Legend selection

By Shane Hurndell

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Former All Black hooker Norm Hewitt's omission had tongues wagging after the inaugural Hawke's Bay Magpies Legends 1st XV was announced last night.

The 23-match All Black, former Maori All Black and former Hurricane was the only Hawke's Bay Hall of Fame rugby inductee to miss selection.

Hewitt's fellow Hall of Famers, George Nepia, Maurice Brownlie, Kel Tremain, Bill Davis and Ian MacRae all made the XV which was revealed at a dinner function attended by more than 400 fans in Napier's Rodney Green Centennial Events Centre last night.

Considering Hewitt's role in the Magpies' 29-17 win against the 1993 British Lions and the 30-25 win against the 1994 French side, Hewitt must be considered hard done by.

His omission is obviously a tactical ploy by Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union chief executive Mike Bishop and his fellow judges to generate another sizeable crowd when the dinner function for the Hawke's Bay Magpies Legends 2nd XV is staged in 2015.

Former teammates of Hewitt's and whanau members will guarantee at least three table sales when he is selected.

Twelve of last night's XV have represented the All Blacks. One of the 12, Harry Marett, was a one-test All Black reserve.

Marett is one of six members of the XV still alive. MacRae, Davis, Hawke's Bay union patron Neil Thimbleby, union president Blair Furlong and former union chairman Richard Hunt are the others.

An East Coast delegation representing Nepia's whanau provided some early entertainment.

Waiapu's John Manuel called on the Hawke's Bay union to release John Semple, Everard Reid and Ziggy Fisiihoi so they can play for the Coast when they challenge Waikato for the Ranfurly Shield later this season. All three were members of East Coast's Heartland Championship Meads Cup-winning team last year but are now aiming to make the Magpies.

Union commercial manager Jay Campbell pointed out that of the more than 200 entries received in the Legends XV competition, most selected seven or eight of the XV but battled from then on. Marett, Hunt, Colin Le Quesne, who coached the Magpies team during their last Ranfurly Shield tenure after a 46-game playing career and Jarrod Cunningham, the union's top first class points scorer, were the least selected by pundits.

Those who missed had instead selected the likes of Hewitt, fellow former All Blacks Mick Duncan and Robbie Stuart and former Junior All Black Robbie Hunter.

Campbell said one pundit selected former Magpies halfback and current Magpies manager Neil Weber and one of his former first five-eighths, Dan Kirby.

A Hawke's Bay rugby fan of about 30 years, Havelock North's Greg Curran won the competition with just two incorrect picks.

The inaugural Hawke's Bay Legends

  • Bert Grenside: 21-match All Black, 87-game Magpie.

  • Maurice Brownlie: 61-match All Black, 44-game Magpie.

  • Cyril Brownlie: 31-match All Black, 49-game Magpie.

  • George Nepia: 46-match All Black, 24-game Magpie.

  • Doug Dalton: 21-match All Black, 41-game Magpie, HB administrator and life member.

  • Colin Le Quesne: 46-game Magpie, HB selector-coach 1957-69, HB life member.

  • Tori Reid: 27-match All Black, 81-game Magpie, NZ Maori selector.

  • Harry Marett: 1-match All Black reserve, 68-game Magpie.

  • Neil Thimbleby: 13-match All Black, 158-game Magpie, HB selector-coach, HB patron.

  • Bill Davis: 53-match All Black, 108-game Magpie, HB administrator.

  • Kel Tremain: 86-match All Black, 96-game Magpie, HB administrator and life member, NZ administrator.

  • Ian MacRae: 45-match All Black, 85-game Magpie, HB administrator and life member, NZRU president.

  • Blair Furlong: 11-match All Black, 77-game Magpie, HB president.

  • Richard Hunt: 144-game Magpie, HB selector-coach, HB administrator and life member, NZRU director.

  • Jarrod Cunningham: 76-game Magpie, NZ Maori player, Blues and Hurricanes Super player.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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