Fans welcome Mako home like heroes
Captain David Havili arrives at Nelson Airport with the Mitre 10 Cup. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly / Nelson App]
The Tasman Mako were welcomed home like heroes yesterday morning following historic back to back Mitre 10 Cup Premierships.
The Mako arrived at Nelson Airport to plenty of fanfare a day after its nail-biting 13-12 win over Auckland.
Skipper David Havili was first through the gates with the Mitre 10 Cup in hand.
“I still can’t believe we have done it, it’s still a bit surreal, to bring it home to our franchise and our wee city is pretty special.”
He says the final was incredibly intense.
“It was to and fro, we had opportunities we should’ve taken but at the end it came down to a couple of moments that added up and we were lucky enough to take the ones we needed to take the win.”
Despite the underdog tag, Havili says they were certainly not going to lie down for Auckland.
“They are a great side, you can’t fault them, they have been the pinnacle of the Mitre 10 Cup this year and we had to go up there and take it from them.”
It was Havili who would ultimately seal the victory with a penalty and turnover in the final minute.
The five-test All Black let out a roar of emotion as he stood over his defeated opposition.
The reaction was the culmination of a difficult season for Havili.
He was forced to spend time on the sideline following emergency bowel surgery and despite blistering Super Rugby form, was left out of the All Blacks squad to tour Australia.
“I’ve been through a bit of a tough year this year and it just came out in that moment.”
Mako Anton Segner is congratulated by principal sponsor Murray Sturgeon. Photo: Jonty Dine
Asked what makes this side so special, Havili is quick to point out its success goes far beyond the players.
“It’s the whole region not just the team, the support we get around here, it’s the management, guys we have backing us, and everyone buys into what we want to achieve. The year we have had has been unbelievable and I’m just so grateful to be able to share this moment with my close mates.”
On the subject of a three-peat, Havili says there are celebrations to be had first.
“It’s going to be a long week, I’m going to enjoy it and we will sort that out next year.”
For rookie Mako Anton Segner, the trophies keep on coming.
Just his first year out of Nelson College where he won the Moascar Cup, UC Championship and South Island championship, Segner can now add national champion to his rugby resume.
“It’s a dream come true, still hasn’t set in, unreal experience, an unreal team and I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my professional career by winning a premiership.”
Segner says it was a tough watch from the sideline before the young flanker was thrown into to the cauldron at Eden Park.
“It felt like I was on the field, I was telling the boys to give it everything, it was tense, I wanted to be out there for the first bit but the boys set us up so all we had to do was finish it.”
He says it was an extremely physical affair in his time on the field and the feeling upon the final whistle was indescribable.
“I just started running everywhere probably had more energy then than during the game.”
Deputy mayor Judene Edgar says the Mako season reflects the year we have had as a region.
“It’s a great analogy, we have had our ups and downs, but we fought back in the end.”
Judene says it is amazing to have something for our community to celebrate.
“I think we all need that, you see the looks on the faces of the people here and I think it says it all, we are just so incredibly proud of the guys, it was an amazing team effort.”