The success of its three best players could hamper Waimea Old Boys’ chances of winning back to back championships but club president Duane Whiting can only see the positives following the announcement James Lowe, Marty Banks and Billy Guyton had landed Super Rugby contracts.
James was easily the club player of the year but is unlikely to pull on the red and white hoops next season having signed a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs following a breakthrough season at both club and provincial level.
And James won’t be the only absentee either. Marty, who had a starring role in the club final, has signed with the Hurricanes and has a good chance to start for them at fullback, meaning he is also unlikely to have anything more than a small cameo at the grassroots level during the midseason test window.
The third loss could be utility Billy, who ran the show at first five. He has been selected in the Hurricanes wider training group following a fine ITM Cup season at halfback for the Tasman Makos.
Only three past Waimea Old Boys players – former Crusaders wing Blair Cook, current Blues prop Sam Prattley and former Crusaders wider training squad member Hamish Cochrane – have Super Rugby experience so the announcement that three players will get a chance at that level in the one season is a big deal for the club. “It shows that we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” says Duane. “You can’t take three players like that out and not have an impact but that’s part of the road to allow other young players through and hopefully we’ll get some out of Waimea College.”