Mumby joins cross-coast rivals for Surf League

Posted by Administrator on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

He's spent the last 11 years bleeding black and gold - now Fitzroy surf lifesaver Jaron Mumby has a whole new challenge in front of him.

After captaining Taranaki to win the last three Lion Foundation New Zealand Surf League titles, the champion IRB crewman will cross coasts to race for Gisborne at the two-day carnival in Mount Maunganui next month.

It's the biggest talking point around the announcement of eight provincial teams, with Mumby admitting he would've preferred to stay with his home province.

"I've been training hard and looking forward to my 12th year with Taranaki but unfortunately I wasn't wanted, after making myself available as a canoe specialist," Mumby said. "I was very disappointed but you have to take these decisions on the chin and with this disappointment came a great opportunity."

Taranaki selectors went for the world champion East End IRB team of Andrew Cronin and James Moorwood - ironically Cronin and Mumby teamed up last year at the Surf League when Moorwood was unavailable.

Gisborne manager Mark Weatherall convinced the 34-year-old to join the rebuilt red-capped team but only after Mumby had consulted some Taranaki faithful, like long-time IRB crewmate Chris Scott.

"His first words were 'do it!' so the decision was made easy based on a lot of support. I'll be crewing the IRB with another Taranaki local, Geoff Cronin, and it will be tough taking on well-established crews with only three weeks to gel but we are 100 percent committed.  There is such a buzz within the Gisborne team and you can be sure I will bring the same level of passion and determination to the red cap as I have done in the past with Taranaki."

Mumby's selection isn't the only masterstroke by the Gisborne team, which could only finish sixth last year.  Australian team members Devon Halligan - the daughter of Kiwis rugby league star Daryl - and Laura Shorter will also compete for the province, with Halligan's stint last year proving pivotal to enticing the sprinting talents of Shorter.

"I loved racing at the Mount last year during the International Challenge - it's such a great venue and the atmosphere was fantastic," Shorter said. "Devon and I are good friends and she loved racing for Gisborne last year and knew that I had an New Zealand passport, so she suggested I get in contact. Now I'm excited to get over there and start racing."

Shorter will resume her duel with top Kiwi sprinters Chanel Hickman (Auckland) and Arna Wright (Bay of Plenty) after some great battles at the International Challenge last year.  Hickman, who is based on the Gold Coast, will be a warm favourite in the flags, while Wright's beach sprinting form has been exceptional this season.

Shorter's parents were born in Palmerston North but shifted to Sydney 25 years ago.

"The rest of my extended family live in New Zealand and Mum and Dad are still very proud Kiwis, so they're really happy that I'm racing over in New Zealand."

Even without Mumby, Taranaki's talented line-up will be hard to beat, with New Zealand captain Glenn Anderson looking to continue a remarkable streak.  He's been in teams that have won the last five Surf League titles - the last three with Taranaki, as well as 2007 with Gisborne and 2008 with Bay of Plenty.  Taranaki will also lean heavily on their prodigious IRB crew, as well as world champion beach sprinter Paul Cracroft-Wilson, swim star Ayla Dunlop-Barrett and national ski champion Dan Nelson.

Auckland's title quest has been boosted by the return of ironwoman Rachel Clarke from Police College, joining Hickman, Maddie Boon and triathlon star Danielle McKenzie in a formidable female line-up.

Bay of Plenty have picked teenaged sprint star Kodi Harman, who recently won the New Zealand Schools 100-200m athletics double, pitting him in an intriguing clash with 36-year-old Canterbury stalwart Morgan Foster and rising Otago star Joe Kemp.

Wellington's ranks have been swollen by young stars like Kayla Imrie and Tyler Maxwell, while former New Zealand ironman champions Nikki Cox and Daniel Moodie form the backbone of the strong Hawke's Bay team that finished second last year.

Full teams are available here.

V 2Jaron Mumby 2011
Jaron Mumby racing with Andrew Cronin at last year's Lion Foundation NZ Surf League and patient Katie Watts

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