Brothers leading Bishop Viard rugby revivial

The Bishop Viard first XV are a true band of brothers.

The squad contains five sets of brothers and the family connections seem to be working.

Bishop Viard followed some solid pre-season form by defeating premier one team St Bernard’s 43-24 in the opening grading round last weekend.

That would normally set the winning team up for a return to premier one but it won’t be that easy for Bishop Viard.

They have a tough pool and face another big game, away against Wairarapa College, this Saturday.

However, Bishop Viard have at least given themselves a chance of returning to the top grade.

It would be a remarkable achievement, as the first XV played in premier three last year and were beaten in the semifinals by the St Pat’s second XV.

  “It would be a massive bonus for us if we made premier one,” coach Sam Leota said.

“Our first goal was to make sure that we got out of premier three and our other target was to win the Beard Trophy [the competition run between the Porirua Basin schools].

“But we will believe in ourselves, whatever team is in front of us. But we will need to stick to our patterns and play to our strengths.”

Bishop Viard retained most of their players from the 2014 squad and had a good buildup to the season.

“We have got a really good bunch of kids and three or four of them have been in the team since year 11,” Leota said. “There are six year 12 players, who mostly graduated from our under-15 team last year, and a couple of year 10 boys.

“One difference this year has been the amount of off-season training. Some of the older boys started doing conditioning training in November and we had a two day camp in the holidays.”

The work has paid off and Bishop Viard indicated in their buildup games that they would be competitive in the grading rounds.

They beat Aotea and Porirua College in a pre-season tournament, to claim the Denys Latham Cup, defeated Naenae, another premier one team, in the Co-ed Cup and added wins against Newlands and the Town second XV.

The win over St Bernard’s also meant that Bishop Viard now hold the Cardinal Cup, for the first time since 2009.

The brothers in the squad are Roy and Tominiko Maiava, Paulo and Jeremiah Lokeni, Antonio and Adam Tone, Jayden McCarthy and Brandon Naera and Tisi Finau and Brandon Kamoto.

In addition, youngster Nasser Tato joined older brother Dorian in the squad for the pre-season games.

“We have a pretty experienced backline but a young pack,” Leota said. “We don’t have a big pack and  it would be one the smallest in Wellington.”

Bishop Viard will be led by lock Dylan Patu and tighthead prop Dorian Tato is another key  member of the pack.

First five-eighth Foliga Va’alepu-Austin has made a big impression and has already racked up nearly 100 points with his boot this year. A former Wellington under-16 rep, he was originally at Porirua College but played for Rotorua Boys’ High School last year.

Fullback McCarthy, who has attracted interest from Sydney league clubs, and speedy winger Roy Maiava, who notched three tries against St Bernard’s, have also been important cogs in the backline.

Wairarapa College won their grading pool last year, with a win over Hutt International, but were not eligible for premier one.

That is not the case this year. They beat Paraparaumu 40-5 last weekend and wins over Bishop Viard and St Bernard’s over the next couple of weekends would secure them a place in the top grade.

Wairarapa lost only two of their 20 games last year, a Co-ed Cup match against Feilding High and the premier two final against Tawa.

“This will probably be a season defining game for us [on Saturday],” coach Chris Senior said. “Premier one would bring a lot of benefits for us and we would jump at the chance if we get it.

“We lost the tight five from last year and there are only five years 13s in the squad but there is some good talent coming through.”

Rongotai scored 11 tries when beating Taita 65-0 last week and it would be a shock if they did not top their grading pool and HIBS, who beat Upper Hutt 27-10, will be favoured in their pool.

Tawa made an encouraging start with a 23-8 win over Aotea and might be the team to beat in pool D, which also includes Naenae, who opened with a 25-20 win over Newlands.