So much for pre-season predictions about Tasman. The Makos were the team many were predicting to pick up New Zealand provincial rugby's wooden spoon again this year, but already they look like a side that will finish in the playoffs rather than at the bottom of the championship.
Lock Filipo Levi says Tasman are out on a mission this year, to earn some respect for the province. They hope to continue that today by beating Northland at Lansdowne Park.
“We have won three out of four games, we've got a long way to go as a team and we're still making lots of mistakes, so we have got something to improve on for this game,” Levi said.
The season got off to a bang for the Makos with a victory over Canterbury and it was a win that gave the players confidence about their systems and for what lies ahead.
“It was a huge to win that game,” Levi said. “We targeted Canterbury and I know that historically they can be slow starters and strong finishers. We also targeted the Taranaki game, which we learnt some lessons from.”
Since the Makos were founded in 2006 it could be argued that they've acted as a feeder province for Canterbury and struggled to find their own identity.
But that looks like changing.
“[Coaches] Kieran Keene and Leon MacDonald are trying to build up the reputation of the Makos and of the Tasman region,” Levi said.
“It is slowly working and people are buying into the Makos brand.”
Levi regards today's opponents as being comparable to the Makos and is predicting an intriguing game.
- © Fairfax NZ News