Rams to show they mean business
Southland rugby league is about to undertake its biggest game in many years as their flagship team the Rams eye a showdown with the Tasman Titans tomorrow.
Last year Southland struggled to find players interested in fronting for the Rams, let alone being in a position to select a team.
There was a lack of commitment, lack of belief and certainly a lack of results as the Rams struggled to gain any traction as a Southland representative sporting team of note. They lost all their games in the inaugural season of the South Island provincial league competition and among them was a 92-6 hiding from Canterbury.
Changes were needed with commitment and competition from players to make the team required.
According to Southland rugby league officials that has been achieved.
Results have followed with wins over Otago and West Coast this season as well as notching up wins in a couple of non-competition games.
The Southland Rams are now one win away from booking a place in this year's South Island provincial competition final.
Southland District Rugby League president Nic Brady suggests their are several reasons why the team has transformed so dramatically. The recruitment of highly regarded Christchurch-based coach Warrick Anderson to lead the Rams has been a major step forward.
That they have been able to find a naming rights sponsor in the form of Provincial Drainage has also been a big boost Brady said.
He said the extra sponsorship on top of the $40,000 a year they receive from the Invercargill Licensing Trust meant they were able to play some of their home games at Rugby Park.
They were also able to kit out the team with tracksuits and after-match uniforms.
Brady said it all helped build team unity and prestige in playing for the Rams.
Anderson said it was about showing the players the path they needed to follow.
"I think they can see and believe there is a chance to do well, and they've got belief in the environment we've created for them.
Someone has belief in them and they've responded to that," he said.
Tasman's challenge tomorrow, in Invercargill, is the Rams biggest to date and will indicate where they currently sit.
Tasman defeated West Coast 42-22 this season but lost to competition favourites, Canterbury, 26-10 last Saturday.
Tasman looked a chance of upsetting Canterbury for the bulk of the game but faltered in the later stages.
Rams coach Warrick Anderson has previously done some work with some of the Tasman players and said his team will need to be at the top of the game tomorrow to get the win and book a place in the final.
"They're fit and mobile, mate," he said.
"They're not that big a side but they are well coached.
"They were in the game against Canterbury right up until the last 10 minutes, apparently."