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Magpies coach wants two-tier system gone

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/08/2016

(reissuing to fix keyword)

AUCKLAND, Aug 10 NZN - Hawke's Bay may be reigning champions of the Mitre 10 Cup's Championship Division but coach Craig Philpott says the two-tier system for NZ provincial rugby should be scrapped.

The Napier-based side ran out a thrilling 26-25 win over Wellington to claim the Championship Division in 2015 and lift themselves into the upper-tier Premiership Division.

But Philpott said he had long felt the provincial rugby sides should play in a single division.

"I don't think there's a massive difference in the playing potential of the teams and coaching staff, it's a very even playing field," Philpott said.

"It's really dangerous to say, 'we're playing a championship team this week', because all they want to do is knock you off and they're well and truly capable."

Philpott said the Magpies were well placed to take on the Premiership in 2016, with young guns including Billy Ropiha and Jonah Lowe replacing experienced midfielders Andrew Horrell and Richard Buckman.

Flanker Tony Lamborn will also re-join the side after spending the Super Rugby season with the victorious Hurricanes, taking the place of departed captain Brendon O'Connor.

"We're pretty happy with what we've got, we worked really hard to get a group of guys together with experience and youth," Philpott said.

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