Club season remains the focus for Old Boys-Marist ahead of Spillane Cup
Winning the Spillane Cup would be a bonus rather than the focus of hosts Old Boys-Marist this weekend.
Palmerston North hosts the 86th edition of the annual tournament on Saturday and Sunday on the Arena back fields.
The club has never won the title as a merged entity, but Palmerston North Marist had wins in 1993, 1939 and 1937.
Coach Reece Robinson is no stranger to the tournament from his playing days, but said he was taking a big picture view into the tournament.
"It has been part of the preseason for me for a long time. To be honest I would love to win it, but I am looking at the bigger picture which is obviously our club season," he said.
"As long as we could put in a good performance on both days, while we are still looking at players and still looking at combinations, we come out of it unscathed and that we play well then I will be pretty happy."
Last year Robinson led the team to a win in the second division Ham Cumming Cup to promote them to the Spillane Cup alongside Marist-St Pat's, Hutt Old Boys-Marist and Napier Old Boys-Marist.
"We knew we were hosting it so we went up to the Spillane last year with the goal of winning the second division so we could play for the Spillane Cup and we did so that is great," Robinson said.
He has been working with a squad of more than 40 throughout the preseason, but said he would likely cut that down to a group of about 22 players for the Spillane Cup.
"We will stick with them and give them as much of an opportunity as we can. In saying that, the players we have got are pretty experienced."
A number of regular players from last year are no longer with the squad including No 8 Mark Atkins (Hawke's Bay), Ben Edwards (Australia), Shadyn Osgood (England) and Sam Bergeson (England).
Turbos flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri is in Auckland at the moment and still deciding on his playing future, while Ambrose Curtis is with the New Zealand sevens team, Chris Cairns is training with the New Zealand under 20s and regular captain Rhys Pedersen is recovering from a concussion from their last preseason game.
But despite the losses, OBM still have a strong squad to field at the Spillane Cup with Wanganui midfielder Kameli Kuruyabaki, Feilding Old Boys-Oroua duo Hameura Baker and Luther Hirini, former Southland sevens player Jared Deal and New Zealand Barbarians Secondary Schools player Matene Ruawai coming on board.
Robinson said they have given Bain Champion, who played halfback last year, first crack at the No 10 jersey.
"We have given Bain the opportunity to claim that position and from what I have seen so far he has done a bloody good job," he said. "He has played a lot of first five at colts grade and at high school level so we spoke to him late last year about the opportunity to play 10 and he was more than happy."
Spillane Cup draw:
Marist St Pat's v Hutt Old Boys Marist, Field 3 at 3pm; Napier OId Boys Marist v Palmerston North Old Boys Marist, Field 2 at 3pm
Ham Cumming Cup
Auckland Marist v Christchurch Marist Albion, Field 2 at 1pm; Hamilton Marist v Tukapa, Field 3 at 1pm
Ham Cumming Cup final, Field 3 at 11am
Spillane Cup final, Field 2 at 1pm