Bay of Plenty's fifth-round Mitre 10 Cup clash against Wellington will be one to celebrate for Steamers' centre Joe Webber.
It will be Webber's blazer game (15) for the Steamers and playing it on home turf, at the Rotorua International Stadium, is a moment the lad who grew up in Te Puke says he is proud of.
"It's a real special game for me. A lot of people think I'm from Hamilton, but I grew up here in Te Puke and went to primary school there. We moved to Hamilton when I was at intermediate, because mum wanted to go to university over there," Webber says.
"I love it here and love the little town of Maketu. When I got the chance to move back here from Hamilton I jumped at the opportunity. So, I won't be moving from here anytime soon."
Webber has had a brilliant start to the 2019 Mitre 10 Cup season, playing in the unfamiliar role of centre.
"I haven't played centre since I left school. So, when Marty Bourke gave me the opportunity to play centre, I was pretty keen."
Due to injury, Webber has not played the 15-a-side format since 2017, and moving from the wing to the midfield has had its challenges, but it's been an enjoyable adjustment.
"It was a bit different. But I've just started to be comfortable in the position and I've learnt the role a bit more.
"I guess the hardest thing was the defence, especially around the set-piece and getting that good combination with Matty [Skipwith-Garland] and Lalamilo [Lalamilo]. It's only week four, but we are starting to gel well. So, I'm looking forward to continuing in the role."
Webber says he thought moving into centre would give him a bit more ball to use his line-breaking skills. But that hasn't been the case.
"I've found out my role is a bit more around being a link player. Being able to link 10 and 12 up with our outside and more just organising the forwards and getting that ball wide when it's on."
The Steamers have speed to burn out wide, with the likes of Fa'asiu Fuatai and Emoni Narawa, who have been named on the wing for Saturday.
"I'll be working really hard to try and give them more ball."
During the North Harbour game at the weekend, Webber took a solid hit to his head as he went into a tackle that saw the 94kg centre laying prone for several minutes. But he says he has taken the appropriate measures and come through the week feeling ready for the clash with Wellington.
"We have proper protocols during the week, and I've followed them exactly. As long as there is no headache or symptoms, I should be sweet to go."
Webber is expecting a physical encounter when his side take on Wellington. But says his team feels confident.
"They have been performing really well in the last four weeks. We are expecting a real physical game from them, real upfront big ball runners. It's going to be a huge test for us this weekend. But we are ready for it."
Since Wellington and Bay of Plenty first played against each other in 1912, the Steamers have only registered five wins against the Lions. However, taking a sixth win doesn't look far fetched at all for the Bay side, which could very likely beat the Lions on home turf.
Bay of Plenty Steamers' playing team:
1. Aidan Ross (C), 2. Nathan Vella, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 4. Aaron Carroll,
5. Baden Wardlaw, 6. Hugh Blake, 7. Mitch Karpik, 8. Ajay Mua, 9. Richard Judd, 10. Kaleb Trask, 11. Fa'asiu Fuatai, 12. Dan Hollinshead, 13. Joe Webber, 14. Emoni Narawa, 15. Chase Tiatia, 16. Kurt Eklund, 17. Tevita Mafileo, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Hoani Matenga , 20. Abraham Papali'I, 21. Leroy Carter, 22. Lalomilo Lalomilo/Cole Forbes, 23. Mathew Skipwith-Garland.
Mitre 10 Cup - Bay of Plenty vs Wellington:
Saturday, September, 7.
Rotorua International Stadium
Gates Open at 4.30pm.
Curtain Raiser: Bay of Plenty Under-18 Boys vs King Country Under-18, kick-off 5pm.
- Supplied content