MASTER AND APPRENTICE: Hugh Reed (left), of Napier Technical, and Sean Watts, of Napier Old Boys Marist, will be the opposing openside flankers in today's Maddison Trophy final at McLean Park. PHOTO/PAUL TAYLOR HBT132225-01NTOB v NOBM
Maddison Trophy final
It's a classic clash of the old and the new ...
That's the battle of the openside flankers, Tech Group of Companies Napier Technical's Hugh Reed and Hawke's Bay Insurances Napier Old Boys Marist's Sean Watts in today's Tui Maddison Trophy Hawke's Bay premier club rugby final at Napier's McLean Park. Their work at the breakdown will be crucial to the game's outcome.
Watts, 19, admitted to being "pretty excited" about playing for the Bay's most prestigious club rugby trophy in his first season at premier level since leaving Hastings Boys' High School last year. He knows if he can continue the form he has displayed throughout the season there's a good chance he will see his name in the Hawke's Bay under-20s side to be announced on Monday.
"I'm not counting my chickens, though ... I know there are a lot of other No7s who are just as good as me," Watts said.
The apprentice engineer at Industrial Manufacturing Services in Onekawa agreed his tussle with Reed, the Hawke's Bay club player of the year, would play a key role in the game.
"I've heard Hugh is pretty good so it will be good to gauge myself against him," Watts said shortly after the pair had posed like opposing boxers for the Hawke's Bay Today photographer.
Watts, who has been nicknamed "Turbo" by his NOBM head coach Mike Warren because of his phenomenal workrate, has had most of this week off work, first with the flu which nagged him in the buildup to last weekend's semifinal and then with a stomach bug.
"I've been a bit unlucky but I'm confident I will be right come kick-off time and I'm equally as confident about our team's chances," Watts added as he gave Reed a final pre-final glare.
A 2008 New Zealand under-20 world champion, Reed, 24, has been playing in the competition for the past six years. This will be the first time this season he has played against NOBM.
"I watched the Maddison round robin game when NOBM beat us [16-12] and Sean went well that day," Reed said, referring to a player-of-the-match performance from Watts.
The Tech captain was impressed with how well mentally his side had prepared for the final.
"The boys know the importance of the occasion ... this is our first opportunity to win the trophy which hasn't been in the club's cabinet since 1992."
He agreed sticking to the game plan would also be crucial for his side, who have been guilty of straying from plans this season, particularly when Reed and New Zealand under-20s halfback Sheridan Rangihuna haven't been playing.
"The boys have got a bit lost in the heat of the moment. As one of the older players it's my role to make sure that doesn't happen."
Tech first five-eighth Tane McGuire and substitute back Zane Crook have passed fitness tests on ankle and rib injuries respectively, which means their side will be unchanged from that which scored a comfortable 23-12 win against Taradale in their semifinal.
Warren has been forced to make one change from his side who pipped Havelock North 21-16 in their semifinal. French first five-eighth Regis Lespinas will be on Magpies duty and his berth has been taken by Liam Rukuwai.
Should NOBM win, it will be the first time they will take the trophy back to their Park Island headquarters since 2002.
Meanwhile, Aotea officials have indicated they are keen to play in the promotion-relegation game against premier woodenspooners Tamatea should they beat Otane in today's division two final at Dannevirke's Rugby Park.
Other finals will see Tamatea host Napier Old Boys Marist in the premier reserve grade clash at Bill Mathewson Park, Maraenui host Western Suburbs One in the division three grade battle at Maraenui Park and Onga Tiko host neighbours Central in the colts' grade encounter at Tikokino's Matthews Park.