• Departing Magpies speedster eyes perfect farewell

Departing Magpies speedster eyes perfect farewell

Departing Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby winger Mason Emerson is eyeing the perfect farewell and one doesn't have to be a genius to work it out.

First up it involves helping the Magpies retain the Ranfurly Shield in tonight's Ranfurly Shield defence against North Otago at Napier's McLean Park. His mission will be complete if his Hastings Rugby and Sports club side retains the Maddison Trophy on July 17.

Speedster Emerson, 25, and Hawke's Bay Rugby yesterday confirmed tonight's match will be his 48th and last for the Magpies before beginning a two-year contract with French division two club Valence Romans. This will be his second overseas stint after spending six months last year playing in the United States.

Emerson (pictured above, Photography by Corena) was emotional when discussing his departure yesterday.

"It's a bit of a bittersweet situation if I’m honest, leaving the Magpies, who have been such an integral part of my life and playing career, is going to be tough, but also the prospect of playing and living in France is an exciting one."

"It was a decision for both me and my partner, Sarah. We are at a time in our lives where our current responsibilities allow us to make a move like this, and we want to take the opportunity and enjoy the experiences that this provides. Hawkes Bay will always be home, so it's a bit of a ‘’see you soon’’ as opposed to ‘’see you later’’.

Emerson pointed out while he studied French for a year during his Lindisfarne College days he didn't pay as much attention as he should and will have to play some catch up with the French lingo before his departure.

He also said returning to the Magpies nest in the future was a realistic goal.

"Being stranded on 48 caps I think that is going to be more than enough motivation to eventually come back and try to achieve 50 caps... that's if the body is still up for it!"

"I might have to move elsewhere in the backline by then. I've enjoyed playing in the midfield and at fullback for Hastings this season so we'll wait and see," Emerson said.

"Mason's departure whilst not the best timing for the Magpies, is fantastic timing for him and Sarah to travel and for Mason to challenge himself in another environment. We love Mason and he’s a popular member of the team and an outstanding rugby player. He departs with our best wishes and I’m certain we will see him again at a later stage back in the black and white hoops," Magpies head coach Mark Ozich said.

"We didn’t want Mase to leave, and I asked him to reconsider, but sometimes opportunities like this present themselves and therefore he goes with our blessing. Mase has been a great servant for the Magpies and knowing how much this team means to him, I’m positive the 50 will be the motivation for him to return when the timing is right," Hawke's Bay Rugby CEO Jay Campbell said.

Tonight's match will be the Magpies first Shield defence of the season and gates open at 6pm.

In a late change to the Magpies side, captain and hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes has withdrawn through injury. Jacob Devery has been promoted to the starting XV and Emerson’s ex Lindisfarne College teammate Gene Symington comes onto the bench as hooking cover. Central Rugby & Sports lock Tom Parsons will captain the Magpies in Kereru-Symes absence.

Tickets are available online at www.hbmagpies.co.nz or can be purchased tonight at the Gate 1 ticket box at McLean Park for $12.50 for adults and $5 for children in the Harris and Chapman stands.

Teams for tonight's 7.05pm match:
Hawke's Bay Magpies: Lolagi Visinia, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Dennon Robinson-Bartlett, Kienan Higgins, Mason Emerson, Lincoln McClutchie, Connor McLeod, Josh Kaifa, Will Tremain, Josh Gimblett, Tom Parsons (captain), Elijah Martin, Joel Hintz, Jacob Devery, Jason Long. Substitutes: Forwards, Gene Syminton, Namatahi Waa, Joe Apikotoa, Frank Lochore, Gareth Evans, Backs, Zach Donaldson, Ollie Sapsford, Danny Toala. 

North Otago: Mataroa Maui, Levi Helleur-Atiga, Hayden Todd, Taniela Samita, Sione Fa'aoso, Ben McCarthy, Jake Matthews, Mosese Aho, Mathew Duff, Toni Taufa, Manulua Taiti, Oliver Kinzett, Melikisua Kolinisau, Sam Sturgess, Kelepi Funaki. Substitutes: Forwards, Jake Greenslade, Logan Dunlop, Samuela Babiau, Cameron Rowland, Blake Welsh. Backs, Owen Davey, Alipate Tuipuloto, Filipo Sefo Sefulu. 

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