Rugby: Guns hold encrypted messages

By Shane Hurndell

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Richard Buckman's tattoos. PHOTO/Warren Buckland
Richard Buckman's tattoos. PHOTO/Warren Buckland

It's fair to say Richard Buckman is coping admirably with his rapidly increasing levels of fame.

The Hawke's Bay Magpies centre-winger had a sublime Super season with the Highlanders which saw him progress from wider training group status to cult-hero status alongside the other stars of the backline, All Blacks Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa. Buckman, 25, even had a song, Tribute to Richard "Barracuda" Buckman, written about him.

"I got stitched up but I didn't mind too much. The boys played it in the dressing room before games ... it's good for team spirit to get a bit of stick like that," Buckman recalled after the Magpies' Captain's Run in the buildup to their final pre-season clash against Waikato at Napier's McLean Park today.

The Napier Boys' High School product, who has played 46 first-class games for the Magpies, also had his left arm photographed regularly. His name is tattooed alongside some inspirational messages.

"I prefer to keep those messages to myself," Buckman replied when asked for translations.

He agreed he had "a pretty awesome" time with the Highlanders.

"There was a good culture downthere and while it was disappointing we didn't make the semifinals we still achieved a lot and I'll be back there again next year."

Buckman has heard talk suggesting he only he has to repeat his Super Season form in the ITM Cup and he could secure an end of season tour with the All Blacks. However, he refuses to look too far ahead.

"Obviously every Kiwi Super player want to make the All Blacks and if that opportunity comes I will take it. But I just want to concentrate on Hawke's Bay and do everything I can to see us gain promotion to the Premiership."

Buckman played all 12 of the Magpies' first class games last year at centre, but is likely to be used more on the wing this year.

"I enjoyed my time at centre last year and am happy to be play either this season. It will be deadly playing outside Robbie [new Magpies centre Fruean] ... it's better to have him on your side than against you," Buckman said.

He is confident a revamped Magpies backline will perform better today than in last week's 35-0 loss to the Bay of Plenty Steamers when the likes of Buckman, Fruean and Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell didn't play.

Hurricanes hooker and Magpies vice-captain Ash Dixon is the only first-stringer missing from the Magpies lineup today. The 2013 New Zealand Maori rep has a back strain.

Magpies head coach Craig Philpott has named 28 players for the match but only expects to play 24. In Dixon's absence Hawke's Bay Development squad frontrower Jarvy Aoake has been called into the squad, an approach Philpott will use regularly throughout the season if required.

Former Magpies prop Ben Tameifuna will start for Waikato and former Hawke's Bay age group halfback Brad Weber will captain the visitors. Waikato's backline is classy with the likes of New Zealand Under-20 reps Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert Brown in the five-eighths and All Black Sevens rep Joe Webber on the wing.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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