Every year, the country's best touch players face off at the New Zealand Touch Championships. This year, one Bay of Plenty side have redemption on their minds.
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Last year, the Bay of Plenty Under-21 mixed touch team had a dream run at nationals, cruising to the final against Counties Manukau.
However, they fell at the final hurdle, going down 6-12 to Counties Manukau.
This weekend they have a shot at redemption as Rotorua International Stadium again plays host to the Youth, Masters and Open New Zealand Touch Championships from today until March 8.
Rotorua's Rongo Piua is once again at the helm of the under-21 side, this time with international coaching experience under his belt, and said their desire to go one better and claim the national title burned as deeply as ever.
"We've probably got about half of last year's players - some others have come up from under-18 and some have come back who didn't play last year.
"It's really exciting because again it's at home and we're trying to do one better than last year. We pretty much need to do the same as last year but put in the effort all the way to that final whistle, that was the difference.
"It was awesome to host the tournament last year and to get it again is even better. I think it being here makes a lot more locals trial for Bay teams, it's a bit easier on them."
Piua coached the New Zealand Under-20 mixed in the transtasman series in Australia in January, four of the players from that series are in the Bay of Plenty Under-21 mixed team. While New Zealand went down 3-0 to their Australian counterparts in that three-match series, he said it was a good learning experience for the players as well as himself.
"The Australians are fit and fast, they're super fast and they can go the whole 40. Watching the players get higher honours is the big motivation for me coaching, that's really awesome, seeing them make NZ teams.
"This is where they get selected to trial for those NZ teams. It will be a good one this year because they have the Youth World Cup in Manchester next year, so quite a few will be looking at that. I think we definitely have the players who are good enough, it just depends if they are willing enough to bring it at senior nationals."
Touch New Zealand tournament and events manager Guy Barton said this year's nationals was set to be better than ever and the numbers of teams reflected the growth of the sport.
"Everyone's really pumped, we've got probably our biggest open grade we've had for a number of years with 40 teams contesting three grades (men's, women's and mixed) which is phenomenal for us.
"It's down to the development that Touch NZ has led in the last few years, particularly around coaching and the high performance programme. I think it's also to do with the quality of the tournaments and events, they're more value for money now and players appreciate spending their money when they know they're going to get good service."
Barton said spectators could expect fierce competition throughout all the grades, particularly with national scouts in attendance.
"Players will be identified to go into high performance squads and from those squads players will be selected for teams for future events. So, the level of touch will be quite exciting.
"Rotorua offers a lot as a host venue. There's the range of fields as well as the range and variety of accommodation. It's also a good place for most of the country to come on a holiday, Rotorua offers a lot in terms of tourism."
New Zealand Touch Championships at a glance
Rotorua International Stadium, Westbrook Park and Ray Boord
Open men, mixed and women.
Under-21 men, mixed and women (Age Criteria: U21 as at December 31, 2019).
27 women, 35 women, 40 women, 30 mixed, 30 men, 35 men, 40 men, 45 men, 50 men (Age Criteria: Turn age of grade by December 31, 2020).