Henare keen to see how Sharks side measure up

Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare will get his first look at new American import Brian Conklin this weekend as they line up in three pre-season games in Wellington in the leadup to the start of the 2013 National Basketball League season.

They will play against Wellington tomorrow night before playing against Nelson and Manawatu the next day.

The Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks will next Saturday play the Otago Nuggets in Gore in what will be their final hitout before they open their NBL campaign against the Super City Rangers, in Invercargill, on April 19.

Henare said yesterday the bulk of the squad had been training since October and the players were getting anxious to get into game mode.

He said there were several things he was looking to get out of this weekend.

"I'm looking forward to having a look at Brian Conklin and see how he goes against pretty quality opposition. It will be good to get some of the guys integrated at the level - some of the younger guys. We're taking up some young guys," Henare said. "But really it's just to get together as a team and work on some of the things we've been working on in training."

The new Sharks head coach said Conklin, a St Louis University product, has impressed on the training court and in general during his short time in Invercargill.

"He has a lot to offer the team, he has a complete offensive game and he's got a big strong body. I think most importantly he's a great guy.

"He's fitting in well to the Kiwi culture and has made friends with the guys on the team, and that's all we can ask for - for your American import to come in and fit in in every aspect, and he's done that very well."

Of the 15 players Henare has named for the 2013 season, 11 will be on hand for the trip to Wellington.

Luke Martin's Sydney Kings team was knocked out of the Australian Basketball League competition by the Breakers on Monday but he still has commitments in Australia and will not arrive in Invercargill until April 14, in time for the Sharks opening game.

The Sharks three players from the Breakers squad - Leon Henry, Reuben Te Rangi and Morgan Natanahira - also will not be available for the pre-season games as they prepare for the ANBL final series against the Perth Wildcats.

It will be touch and go as to whether they will play in the opening NBL game on April 19.

Henare confirmed Ethan Curruthers and Sam Everett will pull on the Sharks singlet for the first time in Wellington.

Curruthers was part of the Otago Nuggets squad last season but contacted Henare about the prospect of joining the Sharks.

He had spent six months in the United States at a basketball academy.

"He's a guard, a bit of a combo guard, a one/two, he has a great work ethic. He came in a few weeks ago and his first session was one of our fitness sessions and he basically blitzed everyone, so I was really pleased with that," Henare said.

Everett has made the trip south to better his basketball prospects.

"He's an Auckland boy who came down here at the end of last year just after our pre-season started. He came off his own bat. He just contacted me. He wanted to have a chance and have a crack, so he flew himself down here," Henare said.

The Southland Times