5 players to watch: Bay of Plenty
Tuesday, August 6, 2019 allblacks.com Getty Images
Unknown at the start of 2019, Mafileo was called in late to the Chiefs squad and impressed across seven appearances in the front row. At 186cm and 118kg, Mafileo will provide a strong physical presence for Bay of Plenty and take plenty of confidence from his time with the Chiefs. Highly regarded for his immaculate scrummaging technique and powerful defence, Mafileo could well become a key cog for the Steamers in 2019.
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While Bay of Plenty fans have known about Chase Tiatia’s ability since his debut for the side back in 2015, the wider rugby community sat up and took notice of the flying fullback during this year’s Super Rugby competition. Tiatia was an excitement-machine in his first year for the Hurricanes with 532 run metres gained, 31 defenders beaten, and nine clean breaks made. His form was so strong that some pundits were even mentioning his name as a bolter for the All Blacks. With Joe Webber and Joe Ravouvou set to partner Tiatia in the back three, expect plenty of counter attack and expansive running from the Steamers speed merchants.
An experienced campaigner, halfback Richard Judd seems to get better with every season. Immensely fit and blessed with a strong tactical game, Judd will be a key role in any Steamers success this season. Coming off a number of tidy appearances for the Hurricanes earlier in the year, Judd will relish the chance to be the number one halfback in the side. Expect Judd and first five Dan Hollinshead to form one of the better inside-halves pairings in the competition.
?? SQUAD NAMING | The benefits of a strong youth programme are shining through in the 2019 @BOPRugby squad.Aidan Ross
READ ???? https://t.co/8Y2NFufQ4U pic.twitter.com/DUocOuVYZ6— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) August 5, 2019
Now fully over the broken ankle that blighted his 2018 season, prop Aidan Ross will be looking to establish himself as one of the leading front-rowers in the country this season. The Tauranga Boys High School product debuted for the Steamers back in 2015 and would love nothing more than to help his side back into the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership in 2019.
A consistent performer for the Chiefs and the Maori All Blacks, loose forward Mitchell Karpik’s career has been on a steady incline over the past couple of seasons. At 24-years-old, and with plenty of big-match experience behind him, Karpik is set to take his game to the next level with the Steamers this season. A combative and tireless loose forward, Karpik will be looked at as a real leader in the Steamers pack and be eager to take excel with Sam Cane on All Blacks duty.