Rams poised for inter-provincial campaign

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014

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Southland Rams coach Greg Dawson says his players have one of the more exciting opportunities Southland rugby league players have ever had.

The Rams will kick-off their 2014 South Island inter-provincial campaign next Saturday against Otago at the Les George Oval.

From players in the inter-provincial competition this year a South Island team will be selected.

The South Island team will play the New Zealand Universities team in a curtain-raiser to the Kiwis-versus-England game in Dunedin in November.

Dawson said this year's South Island inter-provincial competition now had plenty more riding on it.

"It is a curtain-raiser for the Kiwis and Forsyth Barr Stadium, it's pretty exciting," he said.

"It would be a big crowd to play in front of, I don't think Southland players would have ever had that opportunity before."

If Southland were able to repeat their efforts of last year and again push on to a place in the South Island final it could see "four or five" players the team to play New Zealand Universities in Dunedin.

"Obviously it's up to those players to put their hand up to make that team. It's just one step at a time though and we've just got to focus on Otago next week."

Dawson said their buildup had been quiet to date with many of their squad also playing rugby and have been involved in club finals.

However with club rugby done Dawson said there would be a lift in intensity heading into next Saturday.

Meanwhile Southland have had four players selected in an extended South Island under-15 squad.

The four players were selected on the back of a strong showing at the South Island under-15 provincial tournament and then a South Island trial.

Southland players Darcy Moore, Curtis Williams, Ali Quoro, Layne Opetaia, Hoani Kuiti-Tata, Matt Parkes, Mahu Tuhakarina, Riki Ngamoki, were all included in the South Island trial.

When the squad was selected Darcy Moore (SBHS), Curtis Williams (SBHS), Ali Quoro (Gore High) and Layne Opetaia (Mt Aspiring College) made the cut.

The four Southland players will travel to a camp on August 24 and 25 and after that the squad of 33 players will be cut back to 26.

On top of the selection Southland also had some other positive news from the South Island tournament in Dunedin. Centre Darcy Moore was named the best back of the tournament and Wanaka's Layne Opetaia was selected by Warriors academy and pathways manager Duane Mann as the most promising player of the tournament.

Southland under-15 manager Teakura Moetaua said it was all encouraging for junior rugby league in Southland.

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Moetaua said they were close to not attending the South Island tournament because of financial struggles but was pleased now they did make the trip.

- The Southland Times

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