BRUSHING one's teeth and talking on the cellphone ... just two every-day activities we all take for granted.

For 18 months, Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby loosie Hugh Renton couldn't do either with his right arm ... it was paralysed. To his credit Renton, 20, never gave up on his dream to be a professional player and as he enters his second season with the team, he will make his first class debut in tonight's Mitre 10 Cup opener against the Wellington Lions at Napier's McLean Park, almost three years after he collected the injury.

"The arm could do with a bit more weight. But we've spent a year putting strength back into it once we got it moving again. After missing all of last year, I'm looking forward to it ... playing and enjoying it because it has been a long time.

"I want to do a good job and help the Magpies out as much as I can," the former Lindisfarne College head boy said.


During the past two years, he has also been a Hurricane but has yet to play for the franchise at Super level. Earlier this year, Renton started his comeback with five games for the Old Boys University club in the capital.

"It was a good club to play for. Good guys and good coaches," Renton recalled.

A son of former Magpies loosie Paul Renton who played the last of his 44 first class games for the Bay in 1989, Renton, said it was cool to be part of the Canes environment in the first year they experienced Super Rugby title glory.

"I got smoked at every training as the hit-shield dummy but it was a good place to learn."

Renton believed if the Magpies could replicate the Hurricanes' brotherhood they would have a successful season.

"I'm sure if all the Magpies played for each other, we will make Hawke's Bay proud, play well and become a good team with a winning attitude."

It's no secret the Magpies had a similar type of brotherhood last year which was a key factor in their Championship title success. The challenge for new captain Ash Dixon and his troops is to continue that success in the Premiership.

Like fellow Canes in the Magpies squad, locks Mark Abbott and Geoff Cridge, front rower Ricky Riccitelli, flanker Tony Lamborn and prop Ben May, Renton isn't short on knowledge when it comes to the Lions' strengths.

"Wellington will have some big boys and some promising young players. They are always physical and they are hard runners, which makes them tough to tackle.

"It's important we keep our minds in our game which has been designed to beat these guys."

While in Wellington, Renton started a Bachelor of Science degree and also did some psychology and management papers. He said there is a chance he could also follow his Maraekakaho-based parents into the farming scene.

Some of his teammates reckoned horticulture could get the nod ahead of agriculture for Renton, such was the class he displayed during the first week of a nine-week boxed garden, professional development team-building exercise.

The 36-man squad has been divided into four mini teams for a variety of projects. Each mini team was given some top soil and an $80 budget for their garden which will be judged in October.

In the curtainraisers, the Hawke's Bay Saracens will play the Poverty Bay Heartland Championship XV and Wairoa College will take on Te Aute College in the Unison Challenge Shield final.

Hawke's Bay Magpies: Lewis Marshall, Ryan Tongia, Jonah Lowe, Billy Ropiha, Mason Emerson, Ihaia West, Ellery Wilson, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Tony Lamborn, Hugh Renton, Mark Abbott, Geoff Cridge, Tolu Fahamokioa, Ash Dixon (c), Ricky Riccitelli.

Substitutes, forwards: Jorian Tangaere, Jason Long, Ben May, Josh Eden-Whaitiri, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u.
Backs: Brad Weber, Tiaan Falcon, Matt Garland.

Wellington Lions: Jason Woodward, Joe Hill, Matt Proctor, Shaun Treeby, Wes Goosen, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Tomasi Palu, Hoanai Matenga, Greg Foe, Galu Taufale, Sam Lousi, Mark Reddish, Chris Baumann, Leni Apisai, Vince Sakaria.

Substitutes, forwards: Asafo Aumua, Alex Fidow, Joe Apikotoa, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Isaac O'Connor.
Backs: Sheridan Rangihuna, Pakai Turia, Peter Umaga-Jensen.