Accuse the Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team of being too relaxed in the buildup to tomorrow night's Mitre 10 Cup Championship final against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua at your peril.

It's the right approach in the wake of last weekend's extra-time 44-39 semifinal win over Otago. There's no point applying extra pressure to the buildup when the physical and emotional energy tanks were emptied during the Otago match.

"This is the one we have been waiting for all season. We've done all the work ... we've been building the whole time,' Magpies second five-eighth Stacey Ili said.

"We've got nothing to lose. We can only do what we can. If we have fun and enjoy it I'm sure we will get a good result."


"We haven't done much all week. We did all the work throughout the season and now it's time to put it all together," Ili explained.

When Ili, 28, an older brother of Tall Blacks and NZ Breakers basketball team point guard Shea Ili, returned to the Bay at the start of the season after a stint with the Singapore-based Asia Pacific Dragons he made no secret of the fact his goal was to help the Magpies gain promotion to the Premiership. He said he was happy to play in any position required to achieve that.

After making the majority of his starts at centre Ili will start at second five-eighth against the Steamers. He shone in this position against Otago with some clever tactical kicking, three defenders beaten during 10 carries, 11 tackles and most importantly just one missed tackle.

"As long as I am out there helping the boys I don't mind where I play. I'll come off the bench if I have to ... as long as we perform as a team."

A 2016 Auckland representative who has also had stints with Irish side Connacht and Melbourne Rising in Australia, Ili, agreed the Steamers were a good side.

"But it's important we worry about what we're doing. Last time we didn't turn up against them ... we have to get that part right," Ili said referring to the Magpies week eight 51-24 loss to the Steamers.

The bloke he is marking, Steamers second five-eighth and Hurricanes outside back, Chase Tiatia, was the man-of-the-match with three tries, a couple of assists and sound defence.

"While he is a quality player we made him look good," Ili recalled.


Hawke's Bay last played in the Premiership in 2016 and Ili agreed it would mean a lot to the Magpies if they could secure the Championship Trophy for the first time since 2015.

"It would mean all our hard work has paid off ... it would be pretty neat."

The Magpies will miss the services of lock Michael Allardice with a shoulder injury collected in last weekend's semifinal and outside back Caleb Makene with concussion issues after being knocked out against Otago. Jonah Lowe will replace Makene and Isaia Walker-Leawere will replace Allardice.

After missing out on the playing 23 last weekend Geoff Cridge replaces Walker-Leawere on the bench. Regular starting second five-eighth Danny Toala has recovered from the shoulder injury which forced him out of the Otago match and joins outside back Ollie Sapsford as the only backs on the Magpies subs bench.

Magpies head coach Mark Ozich said his troops have adopted a low-key approach this week.

"We've just treated it like another week. While there has been a little bit of talk about the fact it is a final, our main priority was focusing on our recovery. Most of our boys were fatigued ... Bay of Plenty were able to pull the bulk of their starters off after 50 minutes in their semifinal where as most of ours played 100 minutes of footy."

"There's no way we could have done too much physical stuff."

Ozich agreed the visitors had to start well after poor starts against Otago last weekend and in their last match against the Steamers when they trailed 31-0 at one stage.

"We also have to up the physicality stakes. If we can pressure their offloads hopefully we can upset them and gain a bit of momentum."

Former Magpie Matt Garland will start at centre for the Steamers. However its the freedom of Tiatia and the wingers Joe Ravouvou and Fa'asiu Fuatai which must be restricted.

Should the Magpies pack gain parity with the Steamers pack from the start the visitors will have a chance of gaining promotion to the Premiership. With lock Alex Ainley playing his 100th first class match the hosts won't be lacking motivation.

Hawke's Bay Magpies: Tiaan Falcon, Jonah Lowe, Neria Fomai, Stacey Ili, Mason Emerson, Lincoln McClutchie, Folau Fakatava, Gareth Evans (co-captain), Brendon O'Connor (co-captain), Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Tom Parsons, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Ben May, Ash Dixon (captain), Pouri Rakete-Stones. Substitutes: Forwards, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Jason Long, Joel Hintz, Geoff Cridge, Devan Flanders, Josh Kaifa. Backs, Danny Toala, Ollie Sapsford.
Bay of Plenty Steamers: Emoni Narawa, Fa'asiu Fuatai, Matt Garland, Chase Tiatia, Joe Ravouvou, Dan Hollinshead, Richard Judd, Hoani Matenga, Mitch Karpik, Tom Franklin, Alex Ainley, Baden Wardlaw, Ross Geldenhuys, Nathan Vella, Aidan Ross (captain). Substitutes: Forwards, Kurt Eklund, Chris Eves, Jeff Thwaites, Aaron Carroll, Hugh Blake. Backs, Leroy Carter, Jason Robertson, Pryor Collier.