Excitement building for NPC and FPC
Itchy feet have well and truly kicked in for the Turbos and Cyclones coaching staff after the draws for the Bunnings Warehouse NPC and FPC were released by New Zealand Rugby on Wednesday.
The confirmation of the season had Manawatu Rugby Union performance manager and Cyclones head coach Fusi Fe’aunati and Turbos head coach Peter Russell chomping at the bit to kick into the next phase of their preseason.
There were plenty of highlights among the six-game Cyclones schedule, and 10-game Turbos schedule which feature a combined eight games at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North.
Fe’aunati had his eyes on week one on July 16 when the 2021 FPC Championship winners travel to Hamilton to tackle defending Premiership winners Waikato.
“[I’m] looking forward to the first game as it will be a super proud moment to see our wahine run out on to the field again, in our colours, under our banners, showcasing our local talent representing our tangata and our whenua,” he said. “Super excited for our wahine to play in the premiership again.”
The Cyclones have home games on July 24 (Bay of Plenty), July 30 (Counties Manukau) and August 13 (Wellington).
Russell also had his eyes on the start of the campaign with the competition opener against Canterbury at home on August 6, followed by another big match at home four days later on August 10 against Auckland.
But it was the matches against local rivals that had him most excited.
“Those cross-border derbies are the best games to be a part of. Taranaki and Hawkes Bay this year [are games that] bring out the best in our squad.”
The Turbos’ home games are Canterbury, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay (August 21), Tasman (September 2) and Otago (September 25).
With the club season at its halfway point, time is running out for players to force their way into squad.
The Turbos squad assembles on July 11, the week leading into the Hankins Shield final, but Russell assured club supporters that Turbos players would be available for the final, barring injury.
“I have always said that this is a very special time for club rugby and the players to play in their final, so I’m looking forward to an outstanding Hankins Shield final again.”
The Turbos have a three-game preseason schedule, which will be announced next week.
The Cyclones gather on June 18 following the Prue Christie Cup final. Their preseason schedule, which will also be announced next week, features two games.
Fe’aunati said both teams would be looking to build on their 2021 campaigns.
“Success for us will be consistency in our performances both on and off the field. Playing to our potential each week, giving us a good chance to get a good outcome on the scoreboard, if not winning then, learning from the opportunity to be better next time. Inspiring the next generations of Cyclones and Turbos, and uniting our communities by playing an exciting, positive brand of rugby.”