Big task for Southland Rams’ new backline
The Southland Rams will hit the 2014 season with new look backline today as they look to start their campaign off with a win over the Otago Whalers at the Les George Oval near Invercargill.
Fullback Lucas Pikia is the sole returning player from 2013 in the rams starting backline for today's South Island interprovincial competition matchup.
The Rams have been forced to introduce a new halfback-standoff combination with brothers Jayleel and Javaan Fa'amoe-Ioane missing.
Jayleel is out with a elbow problem while last year's Rams captain Javaan has opted to play rugby for the Southland Metro team.
The experienced Korey Pennicott and Stacey Mikira will run the show today against Otago.
Secondrower Chee Turuwhenua has taken over the captaincy duties for the 2014 season.
Coach Greg Dawson said with the addition of Maka Mohi, Pehi Te Whare, Dylan Lovett and Joshua Gough to the fold he was hopeful of what the new look backline could produce this season.
''I'm excited to see how some of the boys go, Maka and Pehi, the centres and Dylan and Josh on the wings. We've got some good powerful runners but we've got to go up front first and go forward before we go wide,'' he said.
Dawson said the focus on the season opener was very much on completion rates and defence.
He felt error free league would be the key to today.
With each of the five teams in the competition having just four round-robin games it leaves little room for catch up and Dawson said today had plenty riding on it against Otago.
''It's pretty cut-throat. We want to get the campaign off with a win, it's good for our confidence but it is also quite crucial you are going in with two (competition points) rather than zero after your first game.''
AT A GLANCE
What: South Island provincial rugby league
Who: Southland Rams v Otago Whalers
Where: Les George Oval
When: Today, 2.30pm kick-off
Lucas Pikia, Joshua Gough, Maka Mohi, Pehi Te Whare, Dylan Lovett, Korey Pennicott (vc), Stacey Mikara, Tuki Hiko, Daniel Low, Aaron Carson, Chee Turuwhenua (captain), Chez Cameron, Matthew Low.
Interchange: Rocky Pettigrew, Kurt McClutchie, Kaza Nielson, Pua Kuresa, Omeka Raimona (18th man).
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