Wellington league team Whiti Te Rā is hoping to add another title as they take on Wainuiomata in the Wellington Rugby League premier final in Petone. In their debut season last year, the team from Ōtaki went undefeated and blew away the competition.
The sun is out, the stage is set, the trophy is there for the taking.
Tanira Cooper says, "The team is very excited to get to this stage of the competition."
The team recently moved from Manawatū to play in Wellington after being undefeated for years. The secret to their success perhaps lies in traditional Māori protocols.
Tanira says, "Our secret stems from ancient times, which is camaraderie. We all play as one, whether you're a senior or a junior."
After losing key players like Manaia Osborne, the team has managed to get into the final. Osborne has returned to help out the club’s pursuit of a second title as a trainer.
"Despite moving to Auckland, he still comes home to help, to organise the team and to formulate game plans," says Tanira.
The idea was to go to Auckland and then return some of those skills home so that we become more skilled.
In round five, Whiti Te Rā lost their first game in years to their opponents Wainuiomata. This time around the team were more prepared.
Manaia says, "Wainuiomata will fight to the very end. So we need to be on right to the end."
Tanira says, "If the captain says stick to the plan, then that's what the captain gets."
Win, or lose, pursuing another title in one of the country's toughest competitions is an achievement in itself.