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When the Tasman Makos run onto North Harbour Stadium tonight, it will be only their second ever match against QBE Insurance North Harbour. In a quirk of the Air New Zealand Cup draw in 2007 and 2008, the teams never met.
“We welcome Tasman to North Harbour Stadium. We’re expecting a tough match against a quality team” said Craig Dowd, QBE Insurance North Harbour Coach. “Our job is to back up after last week, but have in front of us last year’s quarter finalist. We’re mindful that Tasman have an All Black tighthead prop and a handful of Super 14 players.”
The Makos have been the home of several All Blacks in the past, but this year are focusing on growing the talent from within.
“We’ve got six Crusaders out there on Friday and we’re really keen to turn the tables on Harbour after their win last week. We’ve built up consistently, we’re home grown and see that as a huge positive” said Tasman Coach Bevan Cadwallader.
Tasman ‘flew under the radar’ to make the quarter finals of last year’s Air New Zealand Cup. “It’s the same this year - we just go about our business. We’re a tight unit and focus on working for 80 minutes.”
Key match ups include Ben Franks, the Tasman tighthead prop against Michael Reid and centre Kade Poki for Tasman, opposing George Pisi, both strong runners and imposing defenders.