Super rugby back at Mangatainoka

By Gary Caffell


Rugby

Tui Brewery has done it again.

News it is organising a Super rugby pre-season game between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs at Mangatainoka on Saturday, February 16, is another feather in its cap.

Not that it is unusual - with commercial manager Nick Rogers at the helm, it will be the fourth year in a row for such a match on a farm paddock turned rugby stadium with the Hurricanes, as befits a franchise encompassing the Wairarapa-Bush union and several others, involved in all of them.

For the Chiefs, it will be the second time they have played at Mangatainoka, after their 2011 appearance when they were on the end of a 35-31 defeat.

The Waikato-based side was popular then but will be an even bigger attraction next year as they are the defending Super rugby champions.

And that practically guarantees a repeat of the capacity crowd which watched the Hurricanes take on the mighty Crusaders in the Tui-sponsored "friendly" last February.

Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett has already gone on record about returning to Mangatainoka.

"We can't wait to get back there next year ... there is a real sense of rugby community up there," Hammett said. "It's great we can be involved with grassroots rugby and to take this game to the heart of Hurricanes territory. Playing the Chiefs will be a fantastic match. As defending champs, they will be fierce competitors and will help prepare our team for another big season ahead."

The Hurricanes and Chiefs have named their squads for their 2013 Super campaigns and most big names are expected to have some game time at Mangatainoka.

All Black Conrad Smith is again captaining the Canes and will have players of the calibre of Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, TJ Penenara, Julian and Ardie Savea and Andre Taylor in support.

A man with close Wairarapa-Bush connections in Craig Clarke is sure to be an integral part of the Chiefs pack along with Sam Cane, Hika Elliott, Tanerau Latimer, Brodie Retallick and Liam Messam while Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui and Lelia Masaga are part of a star-studded backline.

Tickets for the February 16 match are available from Tui HQ, PGG Wrightson stores in the lower North Island, the Palmerston North i-Site or via www.tui.co.nz

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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