Mitre 10 Cup rugby
Fears new Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby loosie Matt Gardner may miss the Mitre 10 Cup season with a broken arm have been alleviated.
Speaking after yesterday's Magpies team launch attended by 148 people in Napier, this season's Hawke's Bay club rugby MVP said he hoped to resume playing again within the fortnight.
Magpies medical staff feared Gardner had broken his arm during Friday night's 38-5 pre-season loss to the Manawatu Turbos in Palmerston North, a repeat of a season-ending injury in the corresponding game last year.
However X-rays revealed the injury wasn't as bad as 2016.
A key member of the Napier Old Boys Marist team which retained the Maddison Trophy, Nash Cup and Hawke's Bay Challenge Shield this season, Gardner, 24, told the function making the Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad has been a dream come true.
"I grew up next to McLean Park and I remember watching the likes of Karl Lowe and Thomas Waldrom, and dreaming about playing in their positions."
Although he attended Massey University in Palmerston North, Gardner said it was pleasing to see players no longer have to leave the province to pursue their tertiary education.
"The pathway is there to be able to make the Magpies team and study at EIT at the same time."
As expected Maori All Blacks captain Ash Dixon has retained the Magpies captaincy.
Former All Black halfback Brad Weber and new Hurricanes loosie Gareth Evans were named as co vice captains.
Magpies manager Terry Gittings revealed this season's squad contained three All Blacks, four Maori All Blacks, 16 Super players and two international players who weren't All Blacks.
The average age of players within the squad is 24 with the youngest 18 and the oldest 34.
Eighty per cent of the squad have been in Hawke's Bay for three years or more and 60 per cent attended Hawke's Bay secondary schools.