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'They are key cogs': How the Wellington Lions can have an NPC dynasty

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former All Blacks hooker James Parsons believes Wellington can have an NPC dynasty if experienced campaigners stay at the nation’s capital.

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The Lions were emphatic in their drought breaking 26-18 win over Canterbury in the National Provincial Championship Final just over one week ago.

A 22-year drought was broken for the Lions, who also ended the year as the holders of the Ranfurly Shield.

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Wellington Lions superb throughout the NPC season.
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Wellington Lions superb throughout the NPC season.

Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, former Blues captain Parsons said the Lions need the likes of TJ Perenara and Julian Savea if they’re to be successful again going forward.

“If guys like (TJ) Perenara and Julian Savea (stay) yes, I think they can. But they are key cogs to the successful season,” Parsons said.

“I don’t think (Asafo) Aumua will be playing too much NPC. That was a game changer that try, and not many players can score that.

“Another guy that provided a lot of stability and performed probably his best game of the season was Dom Brid.

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“That experience is key to keep. The youth… is unbelievable in the Wellington region but you just need those steady heads, especially at NPC level to make sure that the weeks look right.”

Wellington started their season in August with a two-point win over Bay of Plenty at Sky Stadium.

But their season appeared to have taken a massive hit the following weekend when they lost to old foes Canterbury by 33-points in Christchurch. After losing to Northland in their next outing, the Lions went on a 10-game unbeaten run to take out the domestic prize.

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It just shows how far this Lions have come this season, as they returned Christchurch to arguably dominate Canterbury for periods of the NPC Final.

“They almost dominated the balance of the game from minute one to the end.

“There was a moment where they kicked to the corner from a penalty and just the focus on (Du’Plessis) Kirifi’s face man, he was shorts, jersey tucked in, and he was just starting at the Canterbury pack.

“It was about a month ago, I’m not trying to pat myself on the pack but I said they were on a run. You know when they played Counties, and it was Kirifi’s after-match speech and he was like ‘we’re back at the start line now.’

“Big performers but I think there’s an unsung hero for Wellington. We’ve talked about Perenara, Savea, Du’Plessis Kirifi, (Peter) Lakai, (Riley) Higgins, but Jackson Garden-Bachop was massive.

“His maturity and his ability to put them in the right area of the field, his ability to kick penalties was massive.”

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