Rugby: Nic Mayhew signs with Brumbies

By Campbell Burnes

Nic Mayhew. Photo / Photosport.
Nic Mayhew. Photo / Photosport.

Nic Mayhew is a key cog in the North Harbour set-piece, and in 2017 he will doubtless play just as important a part in the Brumbies' pack.

The 27-year-old loosehead prop from the Northcote club has signed a one-year deal with the 2016 Australian conference champions after enduring a "frustrating" season with the Blues.

Mayhew played eight games for the Blues, yet had just one start, for 243 minutes, missing some time with injury, but largely playing second fiddle behind Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Sam Prattley, both inferior scrummagers.

"I guess it's just a really good opportunity for me. Things here were not really happening for me. The Brumbies have got a good set-up over there," he says. The plan is to be back with North Harbour in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.

Mayhew's international eligibility is open and in fact he can play for New Zealand, England and Australia. Might he follow in the Mike Harris and Toby Smith footsteps and turn out for the Wallabies one day?

"Mike Harris is an old clubmate of mine... but I just like to worry about the task at hand and that will be with the Brumbies. I haven't thought about it, but haven't ruled anything out," says Mayhew.

His older brothers Richard and Mike are plying their trade for Leeds in the UK Championship, while father John Mayhew is in good health after a scare earlier this year.

"A few more wins would be good for his ticker!" quips Mayhew junior.

North Harbour coach Steve Jackson is a fan of Mayhew and his set-piece work, but endorses his move to the Brumbies.

"There's no certainty around here around Super Rugby and it'll be a fresh start for him. Hopefully he makes every post a winner because he's a good footballer. We're right behind him having a good season and then coming back and having a crack for us in 2017," Jackson says.

Mayhew and the North Harbour scrum will have the Manawatu Turbos on high alert for tomorrow's Championship clash in Albany.

Like North Harbour, the Turbos will be disappointed with the outcome of their Ranfurly Shield challenge, last week falling 19-10 to Waikato after making too many errors, but also on the wrong side of some controversial officiating. With footballers such as Callum Gibbins, Kane Thompson and Jason Emery in the group, they have experience and talent.
"They are second on our table. They like to play direct with (Ngani) Laumape and (Hamish) Northcott in midfield and their back three are playing some good football. If we don't match them in the collisions, we're going to be in for a long day," Jackson says.

The bad news is that lock Chris Vui broke a finger in the 21-17 loss to Wellington. He calls the lineouts and is a top jumper himself, but Jackson hopes he will be right for the Otago match next week.

Bryn Gatland again swaps with Matt McGahan at pivot. The latter blasted through for a fine first half try against the Lions, but Gatland brings more authority to his tactical kicking game, while young wing Mark Telea wins a start after Afa Fa'atau failed to finish chances against the Lions.

Auckland's No 2 whistler James Doleman will officiate.

The televised curtainraiser sees the Harbour Hibiscus host the Manawatu Cyclones in round five of the Farah Palmer Cup. Kickoff is at midday.

North Harbour: Matt Duffie, Mark Telea, Matt Vaega, Michael Little, Tevita Li, Bryn Gatland, Bryn Hall, Murphy Taramai, Connor Collett, Josh Tyrell, Brandon Nansen, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Sione Mafileo, James Parsons (c), Nic Mayhew; Reserves: Vyron Smith, Adrian Smith, Karl Tuinukuafe, Glen Preston, Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a, Chris Smylie, Matt McGahan, Daniel Hilton-Jones

Mitre 10 Cup Championship
North Harbour v Manawatu
QBE Stadium, Albany
Saturday, 2.35pm

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