• Loosie poised for Central rugby premier record

Loosie poised for Central rugby premier record

Loosie Warwick Slingsby will set a Central Rugby and Sports record when he plays his 250th premier match for the club tomorrow.

"It's good to be the first to achieve it. Hopefully someone else can follow," Slingsby (pictured above) said after the team's training session at Waipukurau's Central Park last night, the venue for tomorrow's Nash Cup fifth round clash against Napier Technical.

Slingsby, 39, made his premier debut for the club 19 seasons ago. He could have chalked up the 250 sooner had he not spent the 2004 and '05 seasons playing for the Kirkby Lonsdale club in the United Kingdom and a couple of seasons playing for Hastings Rugby and Sports.

The father of two has played 80 minutes of all four games for Central to date this season at No 8.

"I'm in better nick this season than I have been for a long time thanks to my new job. I used to be a self-employed bulk spreader which meant I spent a lot of time on my backside. I'm now with the Helicopter Hawke's Bay ground crew which involves a lot of fitness work during the day," Slingsby explained.

Waza (Slingsby's nickname) will see how his body is at the end of the season before deciding if he has another year of premier play.

"A lot of it depends on how much pre-season work you put in," Slingsby said.

He was thrilled Central managed to avoid relegation but pointed out injuries and unavailabilities have meant they have yet to field their top line up this season. A couple of players will be missing tomorrow because it is the first weekend of the duck shooting season.

"I still believe we've got a good chance of beating Tech. We might be short of reserves but our starting XV will be handy," Slingsby said. 

He is looking forward to playing against former Magpies lock-loosie Trent Boswell-Wakefield. Slingsby ranked Boswell-Wakefield and fellow former Magpies loosies Michael Johnson and Mutu Ngarimu as the toughest players he has marked in the Bay.

Available again for the Central sub union's Bebbington Shield team if required, Slingsby, pointed out he wasn't a fan of the Bay's premier club competition format this season which will see Havelock North and Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports miss out on Maddison Trophy play. 

"Havelock North have won more premier trophies than most clubs. Yet they may lose a lot of players who don't want to play second division. Teams will be a lot different in the second round than the first ... we will be when we have everyone back on board."

"The Hawke's Bay union sent out a survey but obviously didn't take notice of the response. It would be good if they came and spoke with the players and not club committee members," Slingsby said.

"Rugby is a dying sport. The sports which are growing are the ones which are played during the week. Rugby has to move with the times. It's time for more Friday night games so players can spend more Saturdays with their wives and kids," Slingsby added. 

The other pool two clash will see Taradale Rugby and Sports host relegation-bound Havelock North at Tareha Recreation Reserve. In pool one MAC will host defending champions Napier Old Boys Marist at Flaxmere Park and Hastings Rugby and Sports will host Clive Rugby and Sports at Elwood Park.

The crossover clash will see Tamatea Rugby and Sports host the other relegation-bound team, Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports, at Bill Mathewson Park.