Crikey ... how did Star Timu miss out on the Hawke's Bay Sevens team which played at last month's nationals in Queenstown?
Numerous spectators at the 30th annual Tui Hawke's Bay Sevens in Waipukurau on Saturday were asking this question after the 2010 under-20 world champion was an inspirational figure as Hastings Rugby and Sports captured the Ian Baker Memorial Cup for the first time with a 36-14 win against Wests Roosters of Wellington in the A grade men's final.
Timu was leaner and faster than usual for him at this time of the year. While he scored some crucial tries throughout the day it was his defensive work and work off the ball which impressed sevens purists the most.
With the Roosters leading 14-12 at halftime Timu scored immediately after halftime to put his side back in front 19-14 with Luke Makris' conversion, and they dictated terms from then on. In Hastings' 33-10 semi-final win against Havelock North Timu, 22, scored an 80-metre runaway when the villagers were attempting a late comeback in their quest for a fourth consecutive title.
The always diplomatic Timu said afterwards for him it wasn't so much about showing Havelock North and Hawke's Bay coach Murdoch Paewai what he could have had in Queenstown. "For me it was more a case of wanting to do well for Tivaini [injured Hastings and Hawke's Bay player Tivaini Fomai] and many of our club's old timers who travelled down here to support us today," he said.
"I've been training really hard like the rest of our boys ... I want to make more of an impact at ITM Cup level this season. I'm not sure if it will be for the Magpies or someone else yet ... I have to do the best thing for me."
Hastings coach Jeff Karika agreed Saturday's displays were the best produced during the seven years he had had the side since taking over from Adam McDonald.
"Our defensive mentality in particular was the best it has ever been. Picking up the boys for the final after beating Havelock in the semis was a challenge but the boys responded with more awesome defence."
Karika pointed out men's player-of-the-tournament Peniasi Tokakece, George Crichton and the Fomai brothers, Neria and Ausage, like Timu, all made valuable contributions.
McDonald's Jiangsu Sports side from China oozed class on the way to winning the women's title with a 26-7 victory against Feilding Old Boys' Oroua in their final. One of the Chinese speedsters, Zhang Daudau, who scored the first two tries in the final, was women's player-of-the tournament.
RDCL Havelock North won a third Hawke's Bay colts title a week after winning their third consecutive Greytown Sevens title with a 24-5 win against hosts Central in their A grade final. Central did well to reach the A grade final a season after winning the B grade final.
Havelock North's Johnny Bristol took home the Colts player-of-the-day award.
A Taradale All Stars team featuring former New Zealand Sevens representatives Colin Bourke and Aaron Hamilton, as well as Taradale stalwarts Mike Chaffey and Peter Davis, did well to reach the C grade semifinals where they were pipped 21-19 by eventual winners Tamatea B.