Next Step Hardest Yet for Harbour Rugby in M10 Cup Premiership

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Mitre 10 Cup Rd 1 - North Harbour v Otago
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 17: North Harbour fans during the round one Mitre 10 Cup match between North Harbour and Otago at QBE Stadium on August 17, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

From such a great start, the Harbour Rugby side’s next step of their 2017 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership season is the ‘hardest yet’. On Sunday, they face Auckland at QBE Stadium.

Last Word on Rugby spoke with Tom Coventry leading up to the ‘Battle of the Bridge’.

The Mitre 10 (M10) Cup competition is in it’s third week. The format includes a double-match round and this week that see’s Auckland play two matches. And not in Harbours favour, the Auckland team were beaten 27-35 by Waikato. That might be the motivation that the visitors need.

Tom Coventry admitted that “our confidence is high, and we want to maintain our momentum,” after winning their two opening matches. Otago at home (19-17) and last week a good win away to Southland (20-45).

Next Step Hardest Yet for Harbour Rugby in M10 Cup Premiership

“We want to continue our growth. This is a tight-knit group, who want to build on 2016. They have good behaviours and standards. They do their homework, prepare well and if we have the right mindset, it will show,” said Coventry.

“If we have trust that our processes are better than others, then results will come”.

In the modern game, the process is a keyword. Used by many different sports, in it’s context, it is about taking the right steps. Step one was in preparation. “That began as soon as the draw was made. A schedule was established early, players were aware of the plan and that involved use of technology.”

Coventry commented that his organisation utilized technology more and more today. That involved Google applications (apps) such as a group calendar. This could be updated, so each squad member was alerted to the new schedule. From pre-season training and matches, that allows everyone to plan their recovery and spare time.

Harbour Rugby Adopts New Technology

To communicate directly with team members, Coventry and his staff employ a ‘Whats App‘ feature. Directly communicating with players via smartphones, is one of the many tools used more today.

“The players all have smartphones, so the guys hear their Whats App alert when we want to reach them. It’s what they are used to, and technology allows us to reach them anytime, anywhere.” And that reinforces modern practices, like training methodology and equipment. Main sponsor Jetts Fitness Center will provide the resources and membership to the gym that is a part of player conditioning.

And that is one area where Harbour Rugby have strength. “Besides the odd dings and bruises, we have come through the two matches so far”. Although a marque player was unable to begin the season.

“We’ve lost Nick Mayhew before the start of the season. And he is a big loss,” Mayhew had a strong season for the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby. While that was only a one year contract, he proved to be an asset. So for Harbour Rugby, he is a key man that they will miss.

Battle of the Bridge – Coventry Won’t Get Caught Up in Hype

The match colloquially known as the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ is the traditional derby match. Pitting the larger neighbour over it’s North Shore area of the Auckland region, the rivalry has stretched now for over 30 years.

“There is the hype around the game,” says Coventry. “And the team respect that. We had the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ breakfast at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club, and the boys heard from past players. They spoke of the famous battles, but for us it is a part of the M10 Cup Premiership.

“But we won’t get caught up in the hype.”

Coventry’s assistant, Daniel Halangahu, spoke from experience when asked of the match. The former player knows “it might be treated as another game, but as a player you know it is significant. When I played, Harbour weren’t in a strong position, but now we are.

“Auckland refer to us as their little brother, and we want to change that. If we focus on the process, then the team has a chance.”

Auckland a Match of Real Significance in Championship

The first real match of significance, in regards to the Premiership, and one which Harbour will want to use as another step up in their campaign. Matching another Premiership team is a key step for Tom Coventry and his side. Cross-division games are positives, but matching Auckland [and Canterbury, Wellington or Waikato] are crucial.

Auckland are always considered tough opposition. Despite their staggering depth, the 16-time National Provincial Championship winning team must be respected. And with that close proximity, comes a rich history. Sunday will add to that, and it should be a more competitive game than in the last decade [one hopes].

If Harbour can match their rivals, and even better them on the scoreboard, it will see them on target to establish their place in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Harbour Rugby v Auckland, 4:35pm Sunday August 3. QBE Stadium, Albany.

 

“Main photo credit”
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