Rotorua Daily Post

sports reporter

David Beck

takes a look at the last week of sport.

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Local rugby players put on a show

Whakarewarewa against Rotoiti is fast becoming my favourite rugby fixture to watch.

The rivalry between Rotorua's top two sides is tribal and the passion and aggression the players bring to the game is a sight to behold. These teams love to beat each other and the fact that the Tai Mitchell Shield and valuable competition points are up for grabs only adds to the occasion.

Saturday's game was no different as Whakarewarewa ran out 23-19 winners and claimed the Tai Mitchell Shield for the first time since Rotoiti took it from them a year ago.

Rotoiti went into the game at Puarenga Park under an injury cloud, missing most of their first choice backs as well as inspirational leader Baden Wardlaw. However, as is often the case in this fixture, it doesn't matter who takes the field, they all take their game to another level.

In front of a raucous crowd, which appeared to be fairly evenly split between Rotoiti and Whakarewarewa supporters, the two sides went to war. Rotoiti's patient and uncompromising attack was matched by Whakarewarewa's dogged and determined goal line defence.

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There were long periods where Whakarewarewa were forced to defend like their lives depended on it and as a fan of the game I couldn't help but be absorbed in the action.

With two weeks of the Premier 1 competition played both sides sit in the top four. Fingers crossed they both make it to the knockout rounds and treat us to another epic encounter.

Mason Hansen an inspiration

Last week I wrote about the Hansen family, four Rotorua brothers who are absolutely sports mad.

It is not often I find myself inspired by a 6-year-old, but that was the case with Mason, the youngest of the four brothers. Mason has left-sided hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy which affects his movement on the left-hand side of his body, and when he was a baby his parents were told he would probably never be able to play sport.

The Hansen brothers Dante (left), 11, Mason, 6, Devan, 6, and Tyson, 10, are sports mad. Photo / Ben Fraser
The Hansen brothers Dante (left), 11, Mason, 6, Devan, 6, and Tyson, 10, are sports mad. Photo / Ben Fraser

I imagine having three older brothers who all play a wide range of sports would be pretty devastating if you could not join in. However, that has never been an issue for Mason because his determination to follow in his brothers' footsteps greatly outweighs his disability.

His enthusiasm and determination, which a lot of adults seem to grow out of, serve as a valuable reminder to follow your dreams.

The story was also a reminder of the contribution Kiwi parents make to junior sport.

Sherri and Jake Hansen are just two out of thousands of parents who spend hours every week driving their kids around and helping out with coaching and managing teams.

I am the oldest of five sports mad siblings. I may not have appreciated it when I was a sulky teenager, but when I look back now as a, supposedly, mature adult I see just how much our parents did for us.

On top of both working to try to feed five kids, my mum and dad spent hours making sure we could all get to football, cricket, gymnastics, netball, dancing and more.

Now, as I sit in my dream job, I see it was them who helped harness that love for sport.