From MSE No sign of Graham Lowe though. RUGBY: Tamati scores Aussie NRL deal 03.02.2006 In his playing days Kiwi rugby league legend Kevin Tamati handed out plenty of hard hits and he took a few. Now Hawke's Bay's 1979-85 Kiwi is experiencing similar success in boardroom battles. While coaching the New Zealand Maori side in Australia last week Tamati had two boardroom assignments. The Bridge Pa saffron grower succeeded in establishing a new partnership between Rugby League Hawke's Bay and the Manly Sea Eagles NRL club. As part of the relationship Manly are prepared to play pre-season warm-up matches against Hawke's Bay Invitation teams in the Bay on an annual basis. "They can begin as early as next year and will be similar to the 1992 game in Hastings," he said, referring to a game which attracted more than 20,000 fans to Nelson Park. Tamati said in return any Hawke's Bay players wanting to play in Australia would be offered to Manly before any other NRL club. He was impressed with the enthusiasm displayed by the Sea Eagles recruitment manager Noel Cleal and coaching and education manager Dave Warwick. "They wanted to offer scholarships and prizes straight away but I told them we need to get our act in order first. We need to improve our game at grass-roots level," Tamati said. "At the moment we are top-heavy with senior competitions and only have a smidgen of a youth competition. Manly are happy to help us out with a three-year development plan to improve this." While in Sydney, Tamati, along with cousin and fellow Kiwis great Howie Tamati, met International Rugby League Board development officer Tas Baiteri to get the New Zealand Maori team included in the 2008 World Cup. "It's not looking good for us at the moment. The Board's stance is one team from one country," Tamati said. "But it's not a closed door. We can still lobby board members and see what happens when they sit down and vote ... but we don't get a vote," he added. The New Zealand Maori team was a controversial addition to the last World Cup tournament in 2000, when then Aotearoa Maori Rugby League board member John Tamihere successfully argued that the Maori team was part of a distinct nation, as opposed to New Zealand, which was already represented by the Kiwis. * Playing in the Bartercard Cup is a realistic goal for many of Hawke's Bay's promising rugby league players. Several Unicorns will get an opportunity to gauge where they're at in their quest when they play in the national Sevens tournament at North Harbour's Albany Stadium this weekend. "Most of our opposing teams will be full of Bartercard Cup players so it's an ideal time for our players to compare their skills with them," said Hawke's Bay coach Alby Baker. "We're definitely going to have a crack at the Cup section, but if we don't make it it won't be a worry ... the main objective is that our players learn from the experience," he added. In section play Hawke's Bay will meet North Harbour, Waicoa Bay and West Coast tomorrow. Post section play is on Sunday. * The full Hawke's Bay team for the weekend is: Wallace Sullivan (captain), Ali Pettersen, Colin Hokianga, Rob Rudolph, Jamie Stevens, Cleveland Kemp, Mise Tasti, Bryan Tareha, Nick Marshall, Karl Broughton.