Game Preview from Head Coach Matt Lacey

As we gear up for the upcoming game against the Southland Sharks we are buzzing with anticipation and focus. We have an away game this weekend in New Plymonth against the Airs before returning home to take on the Sharks.

Our preseason victory against the Sharks gave us valuable insights, but we are well aware that the scenario has changed. Both teams have evolved since our last meeting, with new strategies and players making us different forces than we were before. This matchup promises to be an exciting challenge.

We expect them to come into our home court with adjustments and improvements, ready to turn the tables. Our team is preparing to meet this head-on, with intensive training sessions focused on both our defensive and offensive play.

Our strategy revolves around adaptability and teamwork. We're honing our ability to read the game and make swift adjustments, capitalising on our strengths and identifying any opportunity to exploit weaknesses in our opponents' game. Our players are in top form, and their commitment to the game plan and to each other is stronger than ever coming off our loss to the Tuatara.

The support of our fans will be crucial. Playing at home gives us an added layer of motivation, and we're looking forward to the energy and backing our fans bring to the arena. Their presence makes a tangible difference, and we aim to make them proud with our performance.

This game is more than just another match on the schedule; it's an opportunity to test our progress, to strengthen our team cohesion, and to showcase the hard work we've been putting in since the preseason. We respect the Sharks and the challenge they present, and we're ready to rise to the occasion.

To our fans, we promise a game filled with passion, skill, and the spirit of competition. It's an afternoon game on Sunday so ideal for families to come along together. Let's make this a memorable encounter, one that reflects the hard work, dedication, and spirit of the Tauranga Whai. Here's to a great game ahead.

Whai Origin Story

Whai is a Te Reo Māori word meaning Stingray. In Māori mythology, the Whai is kaitiaki (community guardians), protecting the areas where shellfish – the successful bounty – can be harvested. The Whai are a feature of the Tauranga moana (sea). Whai is also a verb in Te Reo Māori, meaning “to chase, pursue, or aim for.”

We are chasing, pursuing a vibrant and socially connected Tauranga City where young people have their horizon of possibility lifted.

We do this through our home games and community programmes.

We were deeply honored to have been gifted this name following extensive consultation and collaboration with Mana Whenua in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Rotorua, including kaumatua (elders) from Ngāti Pukenga, Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Raukawa ki Waikato, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Whakaue / Te Arawa and Ngāti Pikiao.

Our name represents our community connections and social purpose, and our partnership with Mana Whenua across the region.

Whai HQ is in Birch Avenue, Tauranga connecting us with our local Hapu Ngati Tamarawaho.  The Kopurererua Street which runs close by was used as a training ground by young Māori seeking to catch kia.  Keeping with the history of the area, Whai HQ is used today to help inspire, train and equipment young people for service in the community and prepare them for meaningful work.

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