Check out the YouTube video highlights of former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby winger Penikolo Latu.

There's a cracker of a try he scored for Tonga in a Pacific Nations Cup win against Samoa last year when he followed kick ahead from his halfback, tackled the receiver, turned the ball over and scampered away to dot down. That was in his second season of play for Tonga.

Despite two seasons of international play 2013 Baby Black Latu, 25, isn't counting his chickens as far as regaining a berth in the Magpies is concerned.

"I'm just here to play for Tech first and the Magpies if it happens ... but it's good to be back," Latu said.


The Gisborne Boys' High School old boy who played 10 games for the Magpies during the 2012 and '13 seasons will play his first game for Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical when they host the other winless team in the Tui Nash Cup, Tamatea, at Whitmore Park today. He last played for the Texans in 2015 before transferring to Waikato for work and to play for the Varsity club.

In his first game for Waikato in 2016 Latu collected an elbow injury. There was a lengthy stint of rehab before Latu fought his way into the Tonga side.

The father of three-year-old son Ollie, Latu, knows if he cracks the Magpies team and plays well and there are a couple of injuries in the Tongan World Cup squad he could end up in Japan later this year. Although he helped Tonga beat Fiji and Samoa in consecutive Pacific Nations Cup matches for the first time last year World Cup selection isn't guaranteed.

"While my fitness is good and my body is good I still have to get a lot fitter and learn a bit more. You can never be too fit. You always train to get better and if you keep on working things happen," Latu said.

Earlier this month Latu helped French team Biarritz win the Hong Kong 10s title for a third consecutive year with a 19-7 win against Samurai International in the final. He also played for Biarritz last year.

"Hong Kong was a stepping stone to coming back here. The Texans family, particularly the likes of Guy Morris [who Latu is working for] and Rod [Cushing, co-manager of the Tech prems] have been really good," Latu said.

He will play centre outside former GBHS teammate Ted Walters today. It's no secret the Texans have lacked pace this season and far too often Walters has made a break and lacked the necessary support. Latu will help solve those problems.

In addition to speed Latu boasts plenty of power in his 105kg frame.

"Most of those 105kgs are in his shoulders. I wouldn't like to be a player trying to tackle him," Cushing joked.

"Tech have got the goods there. This weekend will be a good gauge but it is important we use the remainder of the Nash Cup to build on combinations so we can be competitive in the Maddison Trophy," Latu said.

It didn't take long for memories of his first stint in the Bay to flood back when he returned this week.

"I remember my first game for the Bay in 2012. It was the Battle of the Bays at McLean Park and Ihaia [West] scored a late try to give us a 42-41 win. Then there was the following year when Tech won the Maddison Trophy but because I was in the Magpies I couldn't play in the final.

"I still keep in touch with a lot of the old teammates. We share memories and give each other a bit of banter."

Three of Latu's 2013 Baby Blacks teammates, locks Patrick Tuipulotu and Scott Barrett and loosie Ardie Savea, have progressed to All Black level. Their team finished fourth at their France-hosted world championship.

Magpies head coach Mark Ozich was pleased to hear Latu was back in the Bay.

"There is still space in our squad for a midfielder as well as utility space on the wing.

"There is a lot of good young talent chasing those spots but the fact Penikolo has been there and done that puts him in good space."

Taking their recent improvement as well as the arrival of Latu into account Tech should beat Tamatea by at least 11 points.

Defending champions WIT Napier Old Boys Marist should return to the winning path by at least nine points when they take on Maddison Trophy holders Tremains Andrew Clark Clive at Farndon Park. This is the first clash of the season between last year's Maddison Trophy finalists.

In other fixtures Progressive Meats Havelock North should pip the improving Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports side by seven at Tamatea Park, leaders Taradale Rugby and Sports should maintain their unbeaten run with a nine-point victory against Northfuels Central in Waipukurau and Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports should beat MAC by 11 at Elwood Park.

■ Napier Boys' High School 1st XV rugby coach Brendon Ratcliffe has divided his squad into two groups in the countdown to the naming of his final team for the season.

The top group is in a four-day camp at St Paul's College in Hamilton until Tuesday and the second group will play Lindisfarne College in one of eight games at the annual Saracens club-hosted College Day tournament at Napier's Park Island tomorrow.

"There are still opportunities for those in the second group to make the final team," Ratcliffe stressed.

For several of his players in tomorrow's match it will be their first outing since returning from the team's tour to South Africa where they recorded a big win against Dubai College on their way to the World Schools Festival in Stellenbosch where they had a close loss against Boland Landbou and struggled during a big loss to South Africa's top school Paul Roos. Ratcliffe said the results were similar to those recorded by last year's squad which displayed the benefits by going on to finish second in the Super 8, win the Hurricanes title and finish second at the National Top Four tournament.

NBHS and Lindisfarne College will clash at 1.30pm. Other games on ground one will see Dannevirke High School play Wairoa College at 10.30am, Wairarapa College take on the Hastings Boys' High School 2nd XV at noon and Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV take on regular Auckland powerhouse St Kentigern College at 3pm.

On ground two Taradale High School will play Karamu High School at 10.30am, Havelock North High School will meet Freyberg High School at noon, Central Hawke's Bay College will take on Taupo Nui-A-Tia College at 1.30pm and Te Aute College will clash with Tauhara College at 3pm.

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