Wind back the clock to the early '90s when Havelock North was dominating Hawke's Bay club rugby and Edmond Fuiava's name will pop up in conversation fairly quickly.

Fuiava? The winger who scored 11 tries for the Magpies in 21 first-class appearances during the 1990 and '91 seasons and 59 tries during three seasons, 1989, '90 and '91, with the villagers.

Havelock North's eighth-top tryscorer at premier level, Fuiava, 54, is back with the club and will be head coach of the premier team this season.

"I never thought I would come back. But my son hooked up with a girl from Napier and we thought that's a good reason to come back to the Bay and Havelock North," Fuiava said.


"Last year Simon Halford [Havelock North's 2019 head coach] got me on board in an assistant coach role so he could have a view from an out-of-towner. This year I've got the top job and it's been pretty good.

"We've got some really talented young guys who want to give back to the community. They all used to play for the club and want to bring back the village culture," self-employed curtains and blinds businessman Fuiava said.

He was referring to his assistant coaches, former Magpies halfback Isaac Paewai and former Maori All Black, Hurricanes, Highlanders and Magpies prop Brendon Edmonds, his team cultural adviser, former Māori All Black and Magpies utility back Nathan Paewai and manager, former Magpies first five-eighth Richard Kinnear. Trainer Ben Spriggens and physio Jono Wheatley complete the management team.

"We're going professional like Super Rugby teams. With four or five other guys involved with trainings it makes my job a lot easier. We're all loving it.

"Obviously with the coronavirus outbreak our Nash Cup competition won't be starting this weekend. We're following the guidelines from the New Zealand Rugby Union ... we have to try and stay safe and look after everyone. We've been having plenty of non-contact sessions, whiteboard sessions and plenty of chat," Fuiava said.

Under the guidelines all New Zealand club teams can continue with non-contact sessions and resume full-contact sessions on April 13, the week before club rugby begins on April 18.

A former Hawke's Bay and Havelock North sevens player, Fuiava is happy with the talent within the villagers' squad.

"We've had a few former players return and we've got some exciting young blood like Latrell [two-time world champion New Zealand Condors Sevens player Ah Kiong] ... it's just the locking department where we are hoping to find some more depth.


"Being competitive is our main goal. Once we build the culture and put in the groundwork the results will come. You always aim to make the top four and once you get there you can drive to be No 1," Fuiava said.

He pointed out he won't have the services of his son Jordan Fuiava, a former St Peter's College 1st XV player in Auckland, as he is focused on work commitments. Before and after his playing stint with the villagers and Magpies, Fuiava played and coached for the Suburbs club in Auckland.

In recent years he has played golden oldies rugby for Suburbs and was in their side which intended to play at the Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival in Denver from June 8-15. This tournament has been postponed until April next year and in future Fuiava hopes to get together a Hawke's Bay-based Golden Oldies team capable of playing at that level.

A father of two and grandfather of two, Fuiava, admitted the memories of his playing days with the villagers and Magpies flooded back when he returned to the Bay last year. In 1990 and '91 Havelock North won back-to-back Maddison Trophy competitions.

He was in a backline which included the likes of Jarrod Cunningham, Murdoch and Nathan Paewai, who went on to become Māori All Blacks, and fellow winger Tony Maidens who is still Havelock North's top premier tryscorer with 90.

"We had a very impressive backline which stuck together and continued to build confidence with each other. Nobody was special but we worked well together," Fuiava recalled.

He enjoyed his two seasons with the Magpies under future Hurricanes assistant coach Graeme Taylor. In 1990 the Magpies gained promotion to division one and in 1991 they retained division one status with a 22-19 win over Taranaki courtesy of a late penalty from Cunningham.

During the 1991 season the Magpies recorded a 24-17 win over Romania. That match saw centre Murdoch Paewai score on debut.

"We had young guys like Norm Hewitt and Gordon Falcon who were starting to make names for themselves," Fuiava recalled.

As part of the villagers' premier team's community involvement this season, Fuiava said his players will be raising awareness of mental illness.

"I remember my first time here in the Bay we had a player who lost his life to suicide. These days we are getting more and more people with those thoughts and we need to encourage guys to speak out. Someone is always there to help," Fuiava emphasised.

"There will be games when we play in coloured socks promoting the cause and there will be bucket collections for trusts who work in those fields. We want to do our bit for organisations outside of rugby."

• Team lists for all Hawke's Bay premier club rugby teams will be published on the day the season begins, which is now scheduled for April 18.