If the Mahurangi Rugby Football Club premier team needs any inspiration following the Super Rugby pre-season match, new coach Amasio Valence should provide it.
Fijian-born Valence played a season with the Blues and is the only All Black Sevens player to win three Commonwealth gold medals after being selected for the side at age 17.
“It was a huge surprise to get selected for the team while I was still at Sacred Heart College, especially as I was playing with the likes of Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen,” Valence says.
“Winning gold was an unreal feeling and then to pick up two more medals was even more amazing.”
Last year, the 39-year-old agreed to take on the role of premier head coach for the next three years.
“I played for the Mahurangi premiers back in 2006, and I was keen to give something back to the club with the knowledge I’ve gained over the years.
“I know this team has struggled in recent times, but I’m excited about taking on this challenge.”
Valence says he hasn’t set goals for the first season but would like his side to be competitive in every fixture.
“This year I just want to put the belief into my players that they can win this competition and then next year we can set some targets.”
With a sevens background, he has intentions for the team to play attacking style rugby.
“We will definitely adopt an offensive game plan, but we need good fitness levels to execute that, so that’s a focus for us.
“We’ve had a good group of players at training so far, but the more that show up will mean a stronger squad.”
Valence is also being assisted with coaching by former Fiji and North Harbour player Akuila Matanibukaca.
“I asked Akuila to come and assist me because of his experience and I’m expecting him to be a great asset in working with the forward pack after his years as a lock.”
Mahurangi Rugby Football Club chair Ian Bradnam is excited about what Valence and Matanibukaca can bring to the team.
“Our senior rugby, particularly the premier team, has struggled recently so it’s something we really want to improve and hopefully the new coaches will provide the change we need,” Bradnam says.