Southland Rams poised for battle with Otago
The Southland Rams will open their South Island provincial rugby league campaign on Saturday against Otago.
It will be the first of the Rams' four round-robin fixtures this season. The other games will be against the Canterbury Development team, West Coast and Tasman.
Last season the Rams progressed to the South Island final before the Greg Dawson-coached team was toppled by Canterbury in the decider.
The Rams players have plenty in their favour in 2014, including a favourable draw which sees them play three games at home. They have just one road trip to Greymouth to play the West Coast.
Saturday's matchup will be played at the Les George Oval, near Invercargill, but the other two games against Canterbury and Tasman will be played at Rugby Park in Invercargill.
The other carrot in front of the Rams will be the chance to be selected in a South Island team to play a New Zealand Universities team as the curtain-raiser to the Kiwis-England test match in Dunedin in November.
Southland District Rugby League chairperson Cheryl Officer said to help boost the Rams' profile this season they have had a team poster made up to put up around the province.
She said they decided to do it to boost public awareness around their sponsors, Road Safety Southland, as well as the Rams team itself.
Rams players will hand out Rams posters to kids at the Polyfest event at ILT Stadium Southland later this month.
The Otago team for Saturday's game was named yesterday with former young Southland touch star Ben McKerchar set to again run the cutter for the Whalers at halfback.
Dawson will name his first team of the season at their training session tonight.
In the other South Island competition game on Saturday the Tasman Titans will travel south to meet the West Coast Chargers at Wingham Park in Greymouth. Canterbury have the bye in the first round.
The final will be played on September 20.
Otago Whalers team to play the Southland Rams Kail Spooner (vc), Geoff Horsburgh, Brogan Jackson, Terrence Reid, Taua Piri, Louis Tili, Ben McKerchar, Dexter Buchanan, Corey Riggall, Koben Katipa (c), Eddie van Aalst, Joe Bywater, Richie Clarke, Isaac Misky, Silapa Halangahau, Hyrum Martin, Jalan Wallace, Tyson Ball
- The Southland Times