We continue our reviews on all 12 Heartland Teams
we now look at Horowhenua-Kapiti and King Country
After finishing at the tail of the field the previous two years Horowhenua-Kapiti improved one position but would have finished a lot higher had it not been for six defeats by seven or fewer points.
The side’s six bonus points was only headed by South Canterbury with seven. Coach Jared Tanira is aiming to climb much higher this season.
The only heavy defeat was 30-13 at the hands of Lochore Cup champions South Canterbury but there were agonizing losses to 2012 Meads Cup winners East Coast (24-25) and runners-up Wanganui (24-28), to new Meads Cup titleholders Mid Canterbury (9-13) and to Lochore Cup runners-up Buller (15-19).
NZ Heartland fullback Michael Tambour should be a key player with the union hoping to obtain the services of Wellington first five James So’oialo, brother of ex-All Black Rodney.
Horowhenua is also negotiating for the return of Wellington loan players inside back Adrian Curry (top scorer with 42 pts last year), mid field back Perry Hayman and winger Etuale Togia with Luke Harvey in line again as Player of Origin.
Shannon No 8 Grant Robson, the 2013 captain, led by example last year.
Apart from 2009, when fifth overall, it has been a struggle for Horowhenua-Kapiti but after so many close shaves last season there are hopes of a much higher ranking this year.
|HOROWHENUA-KAPITI 2014 Heartland Championship|
|23-Aug||Horo-Kapiti v Thames Valley||Levin||2:30 p.m.|
|30-Aug||Wanganui v Horo-Kapiti||Wanganui||2:30 p.m.|
|6-Sep||Horo-Kapiti v East Coast||Otaki||2:30 p.m.|
|13-Sep||West Coast v Horo-Kapiti||Greymouth||2:30 p.m.|
|20-Sep||Horo-Kapiti v Wairarapa Bush||Levin||2:30 p.m.|
|27-Sep||Buller v Horo-Kapiti||Westport||2:30 p.m.|
|4-Oct||Horo-Kapiti v Sth Canterbury||Levin||2:00 p.m.|
|11-Oct||Poverty Bay v Horo-Kapiti||Gisborne||2:30 p.m.|
The Rams improved two placings on the previous two seasons and coach Kurt McQuilkin, also the NZ Heartland coach, is aiming for more consistency this year.
King Country started 2013 well with three wins from the first four games, including the scalps of both 2012 Meads Cup finalists East Coast and Wanganui, but then dropped the last four matches.
Skipper and prop Brian Mansfield (41 caps) is back again but missing from the front row will be 135 kg former Waikato and Bay of Plenty loan prop Ted Tauroa.
Also gone are 53-game flanker Sam Mason who has retired, experienced utility back Kurt Strachan (in Ireland), fullback James Hemara who was the Player of Origin last season, and mid fielder Pehi Te Whare (ex North Otago and Southland).
First five Whakataki Cunningham, a loan first five from Rotoiti in 2013 who was the team’s top points scorers, is one of three Bay of Plenty players in King Country club rugby this year.
Elusive winger Dean Church and halfback Roy Simpson, both with 30-plus games under their belt, are again available.
The pack includes solid lock Gene Waller and No 8 Anthony Wise (ex Fiji and Waikato who scored four tries last campaign), two of the tallest forwards in the squad at 1.94m.
|King Country 2014 Heartland Championship|
|23-Aug||King Country v Wairarapa Bush||Taupo||2:00 p.m.|
|30-Aug||Thames Valley v King Country||Te Aroha||2:00 p.m.|
|6-Sep||King Country v Buller||Te Kuiti||2:30 p.m.|
|13-Sep||North Otago v King Country||Oamaru||2:30 p.m.|
|20-Sep||King Country v West Coast||Taupo||2:30 p.m.|
|27-Sep||Poverty Bay v King Country||Gisborne||2:30 p.m.|
|4-Oct||East Coast v King Country||Ruatoria||2:30 p.m.|
|11-Oct||King Country v Wanganui||Te Kuiti||2:30 p.m.|
Next Up :
MID CANTERBURY – 2013 finish: Meads Cup champions
NORTH OTAGO – 2013 finish: Meads Cup runners-up
Previews compiled by JB Phillips