Motivation shouldn’t be an issue this Saturday when Papakura and Mangere East face off to open the second half of the Fox Memorial Premiership season.
The match at Fowlds Park in Mt Albert will be the featured Maori Television game on Saturday, while the Roope Rooster challenge trophy will also go on the line when the ladder-leading Sea Eagles look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season against eighth-placed Mangere East.
Veteran Papakura forward Roman Hifo told kiwileaguecentral.com that while ownership of the Roope Rooster is a mid-season bonus, the Sea Eagles see the chance to get another two points on their quest for a Fox title as the main focus this weekend.
“The Roope is a good incentive, but to us there is a bigger picture which is winning the Fox. Keeping the Roope is not the major focus for us, but it’s motivation to keep winning every week and maintaining it,” Hifo said.
“The vibe at training right now is really good, with both our top side and reserves sitting in the top two of their respective competitions, but we have to be aware of becoming complacent as well.”
With only two wins through the opening round of the competition, wrestling control of the Roope would be a big deal for Mangere East in what looks set to be a dry season in terms of trophies.
Captain Raymond Talimalie said his side aren’t daunted by the prospect of the Sea Eagles, and are looking forward to the clash given what is at stake.
“We know it’s a TV game and the Roope Rooster is up for grabs, but in saying that it’s not going to take our minds off what we know we need to do this weekend,” said Talimalie, who was the Fox Memorial Premiership Player of the Year for 2015.
“So far this year things haven’t been going our way, but it’s the second round of the season now and we are going to try our best to turn it around.
“Our focus isn’t really on Papakura – we already know what they can do – but our main focus is us and making sure everyone does their individual roles.”
Meanwhile the game will also serve as the latest instalment in a rivalry which has been bubbling away for a number of years now, with a history of player movements between the two teams being the main agitating factor.
“Hard out, mate [it’s a rivalry game for us], I wasn’t here when those [Papakura] players were playing for Mangere, but I do hear stories that a majority of them were from here,” Talimalie said.
The match kicks off at 11.00am on Saturday, June 18.