Two Tamatea father-and-son combinations will make history at the Hawke's Bay Sevens tournament in Waipukurau today.
When Sheridan Kite and son Arama and Colin Hokianga and son Damarus take the field for Tamatea at Central Park it will be the first time two father-and-son combos have played in the same team at the annual event. Teams have fielded one father-and-son combos in the past including the Hokianga pair for Tamatea last year.
"We've been talking about this for the last five years ... I think Dad is the fittest he has ever been," 15-year-old Arama said.
"Yes I've shied away from sevens for the last couple of years but when I realised this opportunity could happen I put in some work ... I'm ready for another year of 15s," 39-year-old Sheridan, who had his first premier game for Tamatea in 1997, explained.
A housing navigator for Emerge Aotearoa, Sheridan, said he has done more cardio work in the gym this summer than previously in his career. He agreed Tamatea boast the necessary ammunition to at least reach the semifinals today.
A Hastings West Ross Shield player during his year 6 and 7 days at Peterhead School, Arama is a year 12 student at Manawatu's Manukura School. He will join his father and Damarus Hokianga in the front row today and plays No 8 in 15s.
He is just as talented in league where he can play prop or backrow. A New Zealand under-16 rugby league wider squad member, Arama, is waiting to hear if he has made the final cut.
The New Zealand under-16 touch rep also has the option of a stint with the Cowboys NRL club when his school days end and has also had talks with the talent scouts from the Hurricanes and Manawatu Turbos.
"It's good to have those options available but I want to finish my schooling first," said the fan of Tohu Harris and Sonny Bill Williams.
"We knew it would happen and that's why I stayed around. Last year was good ... this year will be better," 35-year-old Colin Hokianga said.
In addition to playing with Damarus at Waipukurau last year they also played together for Bridge Pa at the national Maori rugby league tournament in Rotorua last year. Halfback Colin first played premier rugby for Otane in 2000 and is looking forward to another season of 15s with Tamatea.
His son has yet to decide which club he will play for in 15s.
"Colin [Mataira], JR [Jason Robinson] and myself coached a lot of talented youngsters here at Tamatea in their younger days. It's good to see some of them returning now ... this year will be a bit of a building one with them but if we can keep them all together they will do well," Colin, a painter for KC Painting, said.
Eighteen-year-old Damarus has played for the New Zealand Maori and Hurricanes under-18 rugby teams. Injury prevented him from attending a Warriors under-20 trial last year.
"I'm pretty focused on making rugby a career now. Making the Magpies is the goal."
"I never made the Magpies but now I can live the dream through Damarus," Colin said.
New Tamatea head coach Levi Armstrong, a five-time, Hawke's Bay Sevens title winner in his playing days with Havelock North, is thrilled with mix of experience and youth available to him for today as well as the club's 15s programme.
"I remember when I went to my first national Sevens with Hawke's Bay in Queenstown. Julian Savea was there as a 16-year-old. Arama could end up like him and with sevens an Olympic sport these days there are so many opportunities out there."
While Arama and Damarus are likely to attract plenty of spectator interest today Armstrong said 16-year-old Art Thompson is another he expected to impress.
"This coaching job is a bit like my job with the Patu Gym. It's all about helping whanau and people have more healthier lifestyles and making the most of their opportunities," Armstrong added.
Tamatea will be one of 15 senior men's teams. Defending champions Hastings Rugby and Sports will again have the services of Magpies winger and 2018 player-of-the-tournament Mason Emerson.
Havelock North Blue should also do well following their title win at the Kimbolton Sevens in Manawatu last weekend. It has been four years since the villagers have won the Ian Baker Memorial Cup and considering their proud history in the event, 14 title wins since 1984, that is too long.
With the likes of 2018 world schools sevens champions Liam Udy-Johns and Latrell Ah Kiong and experienced backs Mikey Vuicakau, Adam Blake and Trent Hape, Havelock North Blue, have the necessary ammunition to at least reach the semifinals. The villagers will miss the services of Hawke's Bay Sevens captain Teihana Brown who has work commitments.
Marist St Pats from Wellington, Gypsies from Auckland and Whanganui's Ngamatapouri will be eager to spoil the hopes of the host province's teams. While host club Central are capable of reaching the B grade semifinals it will be interesting to see if the only Hawke's Bay division two club entered, Otane, opt to push for the B grade or C grade title.
Defending champions Napier Old Boys Marist are among nine colts teams entered. Feilding High School and Palmerston North Boys' High School should boast handy enough rosters to reach the semifinals.
Three teams, host club Central, Taradale and Havelock North, have entered the Barbarians 35plus grade which is expected to grow in numbers in the future. Speedster Mark Donald will be the kingpin for Central while former Magpies pivot Ryan Lewis will be the general for Taradale.
■The Hawke's Bay Academy rugby team lost 12-10 to an IRANZ Selection in Palmerston North on Thursday.
Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's talent development co-ordinator Jason Shoemark was thrilled with how his youthful side competed against more experienced opponents including players from Heartland teams. Nine of Shoemark's players are still at school.
Blindside flanker Josh Gimblett was Hawke's Bay's player-of-the-day. Tighthead prop Patrick Teddy and hooker Damarus Hokianga were others to impress in the Bay engine room.
Halfback Trent Hape and first five-eighth Latrell Ah Kiong operated well in the Bay team's backline.