Tres bien! Apanui reunited with Southland Stags

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 05/06/2014
Richard Apanui
Fairfax NZ
OLD STAG: Richard Apanui playing for Woodlands in the 2004 Galbraith Shield final against Marist at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

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Richard Apanui will make his return to Southland club rugby on Saturday.

The goal-kicking first five-eighth played 42 games for the Stags from 2002 to 2005 before heading off to France.

He will again line up for his Woodlands club, a club he won the Galbraith Shield with in 2004.

Apanui will hope he can impress enough in the second half of the club competition to push his way back into the Stags squad for the 2014 provincial campaign.

The 34-year-old - who started out with Southland in 2002 as Richard Newman - will line up for Woodlands against the Eastern-Northern Barbarians in Gore on Saturday.

Woodlands coach Damien Pine said it would be good to have the experienced five-eighth back involved with the club.

"He is going to presumably bring a lot of fresh ideas for us as well, because the northern hemisphere do do things differently. Maybe they are not always better, but some of those different things, if we can incorporate it, could be good."

Chiefs prop Jamie Mackintosh will also make an appearance for Woodlands on Saturday.

It will be Mackintosh's 50th and blazer game for the Southland club.

Pine said it was something his team and Mackintosh himself were looking forward to.

"He was hoping to get two games in for us but he has got to go back to the Chiefs next Friday, so he will only be able to get the one in which will be his blazer game," Pine said. "I know that Whopper [Mackintosh] is into those tradition things, I guess in some respects people may think for him it doesn't mean much because he has played for the All Blacks and played Super Rugby, but I know for him chalking up 50 for Woodlands is pretty important."

Mackintosh's appearance for Woodlands in Gore will provide young Eastern-Northern Barbarians prop Morgan Mitchell with the ideal test on Saturday.

Mitchell has made an impressive transformation into the tighthead propping role and is being tipped by some as a strong prospect to be part of the Stags squad this season.

The Stags decision-makers are likely to take a keen interest in how Mitchell goes against a Super Rugby-level loosehead prop.

In other premier games on Saturday, Marist and Pirates-Old Boys will meet at Centrepoint Park and Blues and Midlands will square-off at the Les George Oval.

In the cross-over match premier team Star will make the trip to play Mossburn in Mossburn.

Star will not have any of its Highlanders representatives - John Hardie, Josh Bekhuis and Brayden Mitchell - on hand for the game.

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The division one competition fixtures on Saturday are: Waikiwi v Mataura; Wyndham v Riversdale; Pioneer v Tokanui; Drummond-Limehills-Star v Edendale; Waikaka v Bluff.

The division two competition fixtures are: Marist v Waiau Star; Central Pirates-Star v Pirates-Old Boys; Excelsior v Balfour-Lumsden.

- The Southland Times

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