Two former heavyweights of Bay of Plenty club rugby are set to make their return to the Baywide premier grade.
Waikite and Whakatane Marist will rejoin the premier competition tomorrow when round one kicks off across the Bay.
Waikite and Whakatane Marist won six premier titles between them between 1990 and 2004.
While they have struggled in recent years, compared to other big clubs, their return to the top flight has brought with it plenty of attention and excitement.
Whakarewarewa captain and Steamers representative Doug Edwards said he used to enjoy watching Waikite play when he was young. "I grew up watching Waikite when they were at their peak and they were the best team in the Bay," he said.
"When they played us [in the local round this month] they brought an intensity for 60 minutes that was a quality I enjoyed to watch, even though I was receiving it.
"It is really up to them how they manage to produce that game in, game out."
This weekend, Waikite will play Whakatane Marist at Bellvue Rd in Rotorua, which is sure to attract a big crowd.
Meanwhile, Whakarewarewa will be looking to get off to a good start when they host Paroa at Puarenga Park tomorrow.
Whaka progressed all the way to the Baywide grand final last season before losing by three points to Mount Maunganui.
"Obviously we are pretty gutted about the final but we were proud to make it that far. Our goal since then has been to get the core of the team back together and we achieved that," Edwards said.
"We had five games pre-season, two were close and the other three were not.
"We have Paroa first at home and are hoping for a bonus-point win if we can get one ..."
Paroa are returning to the Bayfair Baywide premier competition having last appeared in 2013. All three Rotorua clubs have home games this weekend, with Rotoiti hosting Greerton Marist at Emery Park. Rotoiti are coming off a great local Central Bay round performance which saw them win all five of their games and collect the Tai Mitchell Shield and Banner.
Meanwhile, Greerton Marist have struggled to gain form during the local Western Bay round. Greerton will be looking to regain their form from last year which saw them finish fifth.
-•Baywide premier past winners:
1990 Waikite, 1991 Eastern Pirates, 1992 Whakatane Marist, 1993 Mt Maunganui, 1994 Eastern Pirates, 1995 Whakatane Marist, 1996 Waikite, 1997 Ngongotaha, 1998 Ngongotaha, 1999 Tauranga Sports, 2000 Waikite, 2002 Whakarewarewa, 2003 Tauranga Sports, 2004 Whakatane Marist, 2005 Mt Maunganui, 2006 Whakarewarewa, 2007 Tauranga Sports, 2008 Tauranga Sports, 2009 Tauranga Sports, 2010 Tauranga Sports, 2011 Te Puke Sports, 2012 Te Puke Sports, 2013 Tauranga Sports, 2014 Mt Maunganui Sports.