Champs prepare to chase three-peat

Champs prepare to chase three-peat

HIBS striker Ben Waine in action in a preseason game against Hutt Valley High School. PHOTO: DAVID WAINE

The Hutt International Boys’ School is gearing up for another season as they chase a third successive Wellington youth premiership football title.

The back-to-back champions kicked off for the first time on Saturday grabbing a big 4-2 victory over Wellington College. Despite the strong start and the chance of a three-peat, coach Brendan McIntyre is not getting carried away.

“We were happy to get into the top six [Division 1], especially since a lot of major schools have missed out. We’ve punched above our weight the last couple of years so hopefully we can do the same this season.”

McIntyre said the competition was extremely even between all six sides and believed it would be even tougher for his side to come up trumps than the last two seasons.

He pointed to Wellington College and Scots College as the greatest challengers due to the size of the schools and their high-quality facilities, while he believed Rathkeale College from Masterton would also be tough opponents.

“It’s going to be a real challenge. We just have to carry the underdog tag as we normally do.”

HIBS have also lost several core players including Daniel Evans, Andrew Heaps and former captain Simon Belcher.

Belcher was a joint winner of the Golden Boot for top goal scorer last season and McIntyre said he would be difficult to replace.

However, he noted that young forward Ben Waine had been turning heads and McIntyre hoped he could step up to the challenge of leading the line this season.

With the squad stripped of experience, McIntyre trusted that the younger players would transition to this level of football. He stressed the team collective would always be greater than any individuals.

“It’s not about the players – it’s about the team. We don’t really have the individuals that some of the other teams have.”

Following the opening round victory, McIntyre said the early stages of the competition would be a good chance to see where they stand.

“Over the next few weeks it will be interesting to see where sit. It would be fantastic to finish in the top 3 so we can get to nationals, and getting to final would be huge for us.”

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Article by Sean Nugent

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Article by Sean Nugent

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