Feilding's resurrected league team kicks off

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 14/03/2014
Sykes Timoti
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ
READY TO GO: Sykes Timoti and the new Feilding club will be let loose on the Manawatu club rugby league competition which starts this weekend.

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The Feilding Rugby League Club is the new entry in the Manawatu club competition, which starts at Arena Manawatu tomorrow.

There hasn't been a Feilding club for two years since the Feilding Falcons pulled out. The new club has been started by Renae Graham, cousin of former Falcons coach Mike Graham, but she hasn't been involved previously.

Feilding has most of the Falcons players, but they are a new entity and will wear black, red and white jerseys.

"I think the players always had it in them," Renae Graham said. "When the Falcons finished there was still a core bunch of players that wanted to keep playing and they came to me and said they want to keep the club up and running."

The team will be coached by Claude Potini and play the Kia Ora Warriors in their first match tomorrow.

The Ohakea Magpies have also re-emerged after pulling out of last year's competition because of a lack of players.

Under new coach Matthew Cole, the air force club have strong numbers and fielding a lot of players new to rugby league.

They aren't worried about getting them used to contact and will use their fitness will get them through.

Co-captains this year are experienced prop Alanson Smith and new centre or half Cameron Godfrey.

The ones remaining are prop Dave Orum, fullback Scott Brightwell, Cole, and his assistant coach Darren Pullen, who will both play in the halves.

Back rower Jonathan Mackey is a new recruit from Christchurch.

Defending champions Whiti Te Ra are looking good to win another title.

The Otaki club has just about all of the team that beat Linton in last year's final and a couple of additions.

Coach Ngati Rahiri Edwards has lost prop Rahiri Connor with a knee injury for the season and slippery fullback Tanira Cooper is away for the start of the season at touch nationals. They have gained Connor's brother Ihaka, a half or hooker, and prop John Kuki, both from Wellington.

Returning is prop and captain Kahura Cameron and his massive front row partner Shanti Davis, standoff Manaia Osborne, second rower Chevy Graham and hooker Waylon Shelford.

Whiti Te Ra, who should be tough to beat, especially at home, have put in a big pre-season and are hanging out for the season to start.

The ever-changing nature of army sport means the Linton Cobras have a new-look team this year.

Last year's beaten finalists, the Cobras have a new coach after John Tuala shifted to Hamilton.

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Carl Ewart, who is new to the base from Trentham, coached Linton at the pre-season nines tournament last weekend and may keep the job.

Key players will be back rower Henning Petersen and fullback Leon Walker.

Even with a lot of new faces, players numbers are good and they should have enough for a second team if there is a reserve grade.

There is a major army exercise planned in June, but the club is confident of being competitive throughout the year.

Palmerston North club the Kia Ora Warriors are looking likely to be in the finals mix.

New coach Te Amo Paea has a healthy squad with a core of rep players from last year to call on, despite some personnel changes.

The main men should be halfback Corey Governor, props Kele Kose and Adam Ormsby, and second rowers Josh Kerr, Dax Apera-Ngaha and Eruera Wirihana.

Kerr (knee injury) and Governor (touch nationals) are away this weekend, but they have the depth in the squad to cover them.

In its third year in the Manawatu competition, Wanganui Boxon should be able to improve on last year where they just missed the semifinals.

Most of the squad is unchanged except the big loss is that former Wanganui representative Steelie Koro,, who played league for Boxon for the past two years, is now coaching rugby.

Rep back rower Jordan Davis will captain the team and also back is big centre Che Barlow.

Woody Martin is their tackling machine at lock and young fullback Haze Reweti is looking to have a big season.

The Stewart Reweti-coached side shouldn't be short of fitness, having had pre-season games against the Western Suburbs (Taranaki) and the Ohakea Magpies, and the nines competition.

In the second year of their reincarnation, the Levin Wolves are looking similar to last year.

They have gained a couple of players, which may be because of people coming back from rugby after Horowhenua-Kapiti's Ranfurly Shield challenge last year.

Important players are big prop Ethan Keith and twin brothers Sebastian (second row) and Abraham Jackson (halves), sons of coach Ray Jackson.

Captain Gary Lomax will also play in the halves and will help Jackson out with coaching.

Donnie Gardiner has been tasked with getting the Dannevirke Tigers back on track.

Western Alliance champions in 2012, the Tigers struggled for numbers last season and last year's coach Charlie Tuhua has left the district.

The Tigers have a young team and a few guys have work commitments, but there has been interest in players getting involved again.

Gardiner will look to senior men like Tama-Sean Petera, Logan Whaitiri, Zac Wadley-Te Ture and Hendrix Bartlett.

All games are at the Arena Manawatu back fields tomorrow.

DRAW

Kia Ora Warriors v Feilding, 11.30am; Wanganui Boxon v Linton Cobras, 2.30pm; Whiti Te Ra v Dannevirke Tigers, 2.30pm; Levin Wolves v Ohakea Magpies, 2.30pm.

- Manawatu Standard

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