Tasman Mako players have not been hiding away in the countdown to their first home premiership rugby final.

Following school visits on Wednesday, a group of Tasman players visited the Helicopter House on Thursday to boost the fundraiser for the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.

The Mitre 10 Mega-Gibbons Naylor project will see the house auctioned off after its completion in late November.

Murray Leaning, left of Mitre10 Mega coaches Tasman Mako rugby players Ryan Cox, bottom, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta and Sam Matenga (obscured) on installing insulation into the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter House.


Murray Leaning, left of Mitre10 Mega coaches Tasman Mako rugby players Ryan Cox, bottom, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta and Sam Matenga (obscured) on installing insulation into the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter House.

Front rowers Sam Matenga, Ryan Coxon and lock Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta were on hand for a spot of promotional work, while donning gloves, safety masks and goggles to put some insulation in the ceiling. 

Tasman Mako players face the grill on school visits

The level of expertise was solid amongst the trio, with Coxon admitting to a bit of home DIY, while Matenga had previous experience as a builders labourer and concrete cutter. 

The Tasman Mako team to play Wellington was named on Thursday, with Cirikidaveta named in the reserves.

“Mentally the boys know what’s coming for them and they’ve have taken some learnings from previous years and try and put them on the field on Saturday night,” Coxon said.  

Mitre 10 MEGA marketing co-ordinator Murray Leaning said the overall build of the helicopter house had made pleasing progress since it began in mid-September.

With the roof complete, work to gibstop and paint the interior would take place next week with the kitchen to go in the first week of November prior to the final fitout and flooring going in.

As with last week’s semi-final against Auckland, Leaning’s dulcet tones will provide radio commentary of the final to the nation through the RadioSport network – an opportunity that he was honoured to take on.  

“Mate, it’s huge – I think anyone who’s any good is in Japan, but I’m pretty excited.”

Close to a full-house is expected at Trafalgar Park, with home fans set to take up the Lion’s share of seats as opposed to those from across the Cook Strait. 

Wellington Rugby Football Union chief executive Matt Evans said whatever the result, the team was looking forward to some Tasman hospitality and sharing a beer post-match to watch the All Blacks get the job done over England.

“Obviously we’re coming to win and believe we’ll get the job done. I’m sure both teams will put their bodies on the line knowing they catch a break after this one…neither team will take a step backwards for sure.”

However, he said travel for Wellington fans would be complicated by the Labour weekend holiday. 

“Transport options are already well booked and many would have made other plans some time back but we tend to find friends wherever we go.”

Earlier on Thursday, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese and city councillors were out and about helping to get local businesses behind the Mako by distributing balloons and posters around the CBD.

Uniquely Nelson’s Simon Duffy said the aim of the morning was part of efforts to activate the city and show support for the Tasman ahead of Saturday’s final.

More decorations were scheduled to go up around town on Friday, while Mako players are scheduled to hold a signing session at Wyatt Crockett’s Stirling Sports store from 3pm-4pm. 

Councillor Gaile Noonan was picking a Tasman win, right down to the finer points of how the match would play out. 

“I think we will get the first try – and Pari Pari [Parkinson] will get player of the day – Fins up all the way to a win.”

Duffy said those wishing to view the game from the comfort of a local establishment- while securing a spot for the World Cup semi-final at 9pm – could find live coverage in the CBD at the Vic Brew Bar, Lone Star, Wakatu Hotel, New St Steakhouse and 623 in the City.

At a Glance:

The Tasman Mako team to play Wellington in Saturday’s Premiership final is:

David Havili (c), Will Jordan, Leicester Faainga’anuku, Levi Aumua, Alex Nankivell, Mitch Hunt (vc), Finlay Christie, Jordan Taufua, Sione Havili, Liam Squire, Pari Pari Parkinson, Quin Strange (vc), Tyrel Lomax, Andrew Makalio, Tim Perry; Reserves: Hugh Roach, Wyatt Crockett, Isaac Salmon, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Jacob Norris, Uchida Keisuke, Tim O’Malley, Fetuli Paea.