• Former national swimming champ relishes Bay premier club rugby

Former national swimming champ relishes Bay premier club rugby

I'll be honest ... two years ago I labelled Hawke's Bay swimmer Josh Greening a serious prospect for the Tokyo Olympics.

At the time Greening (pictured above) was a three-time national champion in the pool. He had just returned from the national champs with two titles including the 50 metres freestyle with a Hawke's Bay Poverty Bay record time of 22.30s.

Greening mentioned he would aim to qualify for Tokyo in the 50 and 100m freestyle. So you can understand the extent of my surprise when I heard he was playing for Clive Rugby and Sports in Hawke's Bay's premier club competition this season.

"I still use the pool for fitness. But thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and a bit of politics I decided to return to rugby for a bit of fun with my mates," Greening, 23, explained in the countdown to Clive's Maddison Trophy seventh round match against Napier Old Boys Marist today, the feature game of the riversiders Club Day at Farndon Park.

While he had a couple of outings with the Clive colts last year this is his first full season since his 3rd XV days at Hastings Boys' High School in 2015. He has impressed as a lock, flanker, winger and fullback this year and will play on the wing against the Green Machine today.

"Three of our Magpies wingers are missing so I know I've got some big shoes to fill," Greening said referring to Lolagi Visinia, Anzelo Tuitavuki and Jonah Lowe.

"We just have to dig it in. Staying in the top four and qualifying for the final is our big drive this season," Greening said.

The qualified electrician with Laser Electrical has an extra incentive to help Clive produce a Club Day victory. Today his father, former Magpies and MAC winger Billy Greening, will celebrate his 60th birthday.

Greening is eyeing Hawke's Bay Sevens selection next summer. Considering what he has produced in his first season of premier club rugby the chances of him ticking this goal off are high too. 


Napier Technical second five-eighth Ted Walters (pictured above) will play his 150th match for the Texans when they host Central Rugby and Sports at Whitmore Park.  He agreed a win tomorrow would be the ideal form of consolation for missing out on the semifinals.

"We had a bit of a young team this year but still boxed above our weight," Walters said.

A qualified builder with Oak Construction, Walters, first played for the Texans in 2012 and was an influential figure in their 2013 Maddison Trophy winning squad. He had one first class game for the Magpies in 2015.

He is expecting the Central pack to be tough but is confident the Tech backs can have the edge.

Other games today will see Taradale Rugby and Sports host Tamatea Rugby and Sports at Tareha Recreation Reserve and defending champions Hastings Rugby and Sports host MAC.

Magpies loosie Solomone Funaki and former Magpies winger Penikolo Latu will be missing for the MAC side as they will start for Tonga against the All Blacks in Auckland.  They are two of eight Hawke's Bay players who will be on international duty today.

Halfback Brad Weber will start for the All Blacks. Magpies captain and hooker Ash Dixon and Lowe will start for the Maori All Blacks against Samoa in the Auckland curtainraiser while lock Isaia Walker-Leawere will be on the Maori All Blacks subs bench.

Magpies Neria Fomai and Stacey Ili will start at winger and centre respectively for Samoa.