By WALT DICKSON
If being crowned Tui Cup champions wasn’t motivation enough for Carterton this weekend, there is an added reason to fire them up.
The match is set to be the last in the Carterton maroon jersey for a number of players, among them their captain Johnie McFadzean.
The big No.8 has been a stalwart of the club since 2010, never in that time sharing in the spoils of Tui Cup glory.
Co-coach Zeb Aporo says a popular theme from a team talk last night was that the match is a good opportunity to “send off the skip”.
“We want to win on Saturday for a lot of reasons, and he is definitely one of them,” Aporo says.
The name McFadzean has almost become synonymous with Carterton in recent seasons with Johnie one of three brothers in the starting XV. The other two being fellow loosie Lachie and youngest brother Corey, who plays at fullback.
Aporo says as well as being very good players the trio bring a lot of “mana” to the team.
Saturday’s Grand Final is also expected to bring down the playing curtain on wing Lance Stevenson and half-back Justin Lett who has been coming off the bench for much of the season.
It will also be Aporo’s last season for a while as he heads back to the UK next month.
Aporo, who shares the coaching duties with Joe Harwood, has had a massive influence at the club. When he took up the coaching reins last year he inherited a team that was floundering near the bottom of the table. Now they are on the brink of doing the Wairarapa-Bush premier one competition double having already won the round one Moose Kapene Cup.
Last weekend’s nail biting 12-6 semi-final win over Gladstone required a huge effort, Aporo says.
“Our attitude at the start of the game was that we had to be the ones firing the shots, and not let them put us on the ropes.”
In the slippy conditions it was instead Gladstone who were applying most of the pressure.
Aporo is anticipating another huge battle against Greytown.
“Basically it is going to come down to who wants it the most? We can’t hold back, we’ve got to throw everything at them.”
With two evenly matched forward packs Carterton could have an edge out-wide in wingers Pene Rokoduguni and Lance Stevenson and also full back Corey McFadzean. Rokoduguni and Stevenson didn’t see a lot of ball last weekend, but should they be kept busy on the fast Memorial Park turf on Saturday afternoon Johnie just might get the send off he deserves.
Tui Cup Grand Final, kick off 4.15