In the 11 years since he played a major role in the formation of Otumoetai Eels Rugby League Club, Stan Nicholas has held just about every position within the club - with one exception.

This season, he will put that right, taking on the premier team head coach position.

While he has coached at age group level and has assisted at club and Coastline representative level, this is his first gig as a senior head coach.

"I felt that I always wanted to try and be a premier or senior coach - I've followed my son (Bailey) and coached him up to under 17 level, which is the last grade before seniors, and now he's gone to seniors," he said.


His first assignment will be to orchestrate the successful defence of the Werohia Shield at Arataki today.

The shield was put up by the Werohia whanau who had been instrumental in the formation of the Coastline Rugby League Association to go to the winner of an annual pre-season challenge. The first winners in 1989 were the Mauao Sea Eagles.

This year, for the first time, the shield will go to the winner of a tournament rather than a one-off challenge game, with Papamoa Bulldogs and Putauaki Stags throwing down the gauntlet.

The shield has found a home at Eels HQ since 2008 and Nicholas is determined it won't be lost on his watch.

"Because it is a different format this year, with the shorter games, it's going to be a bit helter skelter. I have told the boys it's important to hit the ground running."

Preparation for the shield challenge and for the upcoming season has gone well and there will be 10 of last year's premier side in the Eels tournament team, with Nicholas keen for the players to take his philosophies on board.

"I want them to do the simple things in the game right - have a basic game plan and to instil a belief in themselves. Regardless of how good the opposition is or how big the opposition is, we are equal, if not better, than them. I don't accept defeat until the final whistle sounds."

The senior Werohia Shield competition starts at 1.30pm with the Eels taking on Putauaki Stags. The Eels then take on Papamoa Bulldogs at 2.30pm with the Stags and the Bulldogs facing off at 3.30pm. The best placed two teams will contest the final at 4.30pm.

In the morning there will be under 15 and under 17 tournaments starting at 10am. All games are at Grenada Park, Arataki.