Rams coach gets in early with team selection
Southland Rams coach Greg Dawson has unveiled his first lineup for the 2013 season, a week out from their opening game against Otago in Dunedin next Saturday night.
Dawson said he opted to confirm the team early to give the players plenty of time to get their head around combinations and help their buildup in training this week.
The Rams will head into their first game without a pre-season hitout but Dawson didn't think it would leave them underdone.
They had toyed with the idea of playing a game against an invitational team this weekend, but instead felt it would be more beneficial to hold an extra training session instead.
Dawson said the selection had been difficult, which was a good thing. He has had to trim his squad from 26 to 17 for the opening game. As well as the playing 17, Dawson has also named Mike Lemaile as 18th man for cover.
He stressed the door wasn't closed for those who had missed the first game and wanted them to keep fronting and putting pressure on those that had made it.
"I said to the guys ‘this is rep football now and if you miss that first cut, don't be too disappointed, just keep coming along and let's all stick together'."
Not surprisingly, 2013 club champions He Tauaa provide a strong representation in the team to take on Otago.
He Tauaa were a class above any other team and highlighted that with their 56-10 win over Cooks in the final.
The biggest impact He Tauaa will have is in the backline, particularly on attack with playmakers Javaan and Jayleel Fa'amoe-Ioane. Byron Curtis, in the New Zealand team that played in the students World Cup in England this year, will also be a threat.
The key for the Rams will be to ensure the defence matches that attack and that those in the middle of the field can provide go forward.
Much of that responsibility will centre around the hard-working Cooks second-rower Chee Turuwhenua.
HOW THEY LINE UP
Southland Rams team to play Otago: Lucas Pikia, Stacey Mikara, Semi Ratu, Byron Curtis, Pua Kuresa, Javaan Fa'amoe-Ioane, Jayleel Fa'amoe-Ioane, Tuki Hiko, Matthew Low, Jeremy Borland, Willie Cameron, Chee Turuwhenua, Nick Ah Kuoi, Chez Cameron, Daniel Low, Patrick Sililoto, Tihema Brown, Mike Lemalie (18th man)
- © Fairfax NZ News