Ball in McLeod's court says Sharks coach
New Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare says there is an opportunity for home-grown product Paratene McLeod to gain more playing minutes, if he grabs his chances with both hands.
McLeod this week re-signed with the Southland Sharks for a fourth straight year as the organisation zeroes in on their completed squad for the 2013 campaign.
McLeod is a foundation player and when he first signed with the Sharks was viewed as the pin-up boy as far as showing how the Sharks' franchise could provide a pathway for local players to play at the top level.
While he has played in 25 games in the first three seasons, the playing minutes haven't followed with the former Southland Boys' High School pupil yet to have a big impact on the league.
Henare said that would change if the 21-year-old put his head down and worked hard in the lead-up to the season.
"I've been working with him ever since I got to town," Henare said yesterday.
"He was one of the first ones that really kind of shocked me with the level of talent he has.
"It really caught me by surprise because obviously I've seen him in quite a minimal role in the last few years with the Sharks, so haven't really seen him up close and personal.
"My first impressions of him is ‘This kid can play': he's got a good skillset.
"It's great to have him on board and hopefully with the lineup we have this year we might be able to find a bigger role for him.
"I can't really speak for what his opportunities have been like and his role in the past three years, but I've spoken several times with Para and voiced my opinions where I see him in the greater scheme of things.
"But at the end of the day it's up to him to put the work in on the practice floor, have a good attitude and then perform on the court as well."
McLeod's signing means the Sharks are closing in on their full roster for 2013, with only the key signature of a second overseas import to join Kevin Braswell still to come.
Given the importance of a good import in the New Zealand league Henare is spending a lot of time searching for a player. Many good overseas players play in European leagues, which clash with the start of the New Zealand NBL.
A smoother transition would be to pick up an overseas import who is playing in the Australian NBL, which finishes before the New Zealand competition.
"It kind of fits in good, so a couple of Americans I've been looking at are taking part in the NBL, but again it's up to them to whether it's something they see that's going to further their careers," Henare said.
"They've just come off a pretty hectic season themselves so do they need a bit of rest time?
"So, I guess it's finding the right balance, the right fit for us, and if they want to play."
Kevin Braswell, Luke Martin, Reuben Te Rangi, Gareth Dawson, Morgan Natanahira, James Paringatai, Dan Peck, Paratene McLeod.
- The Southland Times