Two teams withdraw from sub-union versus premier grade Southland club rugby games
Central and Eastern sub-union players could be forced to merge with other teams, as the two sub-union teams are unable to muster enough players for their matches against premier grade rugby teams on Wednesday and Saturday.
The four Southland country sub-unions of Western, Central, Northern and Eastern plus the Southland Under-19 team and a Town team had all been selected to be playing two games each this week against the six clubs from the Premier grade.
This initiative was designed to give club players an extra pathway to represent Southland Country, Town and Southland B.
"This week will freshen up the premier club competition and help identify talent from the lower grades," Rugby Southland general manager Andrew Moreton said.
"It also gives our under-19 team an improved preparation before their national competition later in the season."
Central only have three club teams to choose from and most of those players are stretched to be fully committed to club rugby.
It is hoped Central will join with Western for this week's games.
"We have half a dozen players in the U19 team, and quite a few injuries as well," Central coach Ben McHugh said.
"We've been strung along a bit, it's disappointing for the 13 boys who really wanted to push their case for higher honours. We would have been competitive if our selected squad was available, but the commitment is not there."
The Eastern team had limited support from clubs within their sub-union.
According to Eastern coach Jason Bishop it had been difficult to get the team under way.
"We only had our first run last week. We had a core group of players that were really keen to represent so we wanted to do our best for them, but we couldn't get the numbers," he said.
"Hopefully those guys can join with Northern."
Two games will be played on Wednesday night at Rugby Park.
The first game kicks off at 6pm between the Town team and Blues.
Town was selected from the Waikiwi, Collegiate and Bluff clubs and the Premier clubs' B teams.
Town coach Scott Meredith said that it will be a good experience for his young players.
"They're a very enthusiastic team, we've had good numbers at our first two trainings," he said,
"We plan on doing the basics well and playing positive rugby, we will not be out there just to try stop them from scoring. It is a privilege for our players and myself to be involved in this team."
Southland U19 and Star meet in the late game at Rugby Park.
Southland U19 co-coach Daryl Thompson said his team is looking forward to the challenge.
"We've only had three training runs and been hit by injury, but that has provided an opportunity for others," he said.
"They're all keen to front up, it will be really good for them. This week gives our Southland based guys the first shot at securing a spot in the team."
Northern will play Marist at 7.30pm in Mossburn.
Northern Coach Jeff Clearwater said the concept has generally been well supported by the club players in Northern Southland.
Riversdale and Mossburn contribute the majority of players to the squad.
"A few experienced players have made themselves unavailable, but that has provided opportunities for the keener younger guys," Clearwater said.
"It's a big task with only three trainings, but it is a chance for them to get a gauge on how good they are. It will be interesting to see how big the gap is."
The Western and Pirates Old Boys game kicks off at Riverton at 7.30pm.
Most of the Western clubs have players involved, with the Waiau forward pack well-represented. Key players in the team are prop Pete van Dam and young halfback Liam Adams.
At a glance
Town vs Blues, Southland U19 vs Star, Northern vs Marist, Western vs Pirates Old Boys.