Hei Hei called in to give rams a boost

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2013

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Southland Rams coach Greg Dawson has called on the experienced Eddie Hei Hei as he searches for a spark in the forward pack to take the team to another level in the 2013 South Island provincial rugby league tournament.

The Road Safety Southland-sponsored Rams will take on Tasman in Nelson today in their final round-robin game in the South Island competition.

A win would cement a spot in next Saturday's final against Canterbury and even a close loss will be good enough to see them advance to the decider.

Following last weekend's 34-16 loss to Canterbury, Dawson felt they required a bit more experience and go forward in the pack if they were going to firstly get to the final and then potentially win it.

Hei Hei is one of Southland's better rugby league products after playing for New Zealand Maori and New Zealand A, as well as playing in the highly regarded Queensland Cup competition.

Hei Hei is the current Southland Rugby League development officer this year and had taken a step back from playing.

He remained involved with the Rams in the coaching setup as the team's trainer. However, that was up until his call up this week to the playing squad for the game against Tasman.

"Obviously with his experience and the level he's played at we just felt that after last week we needed to bolster the forward pack and we think Hei Hei can offer a little bit more go forward," Dawson said.

He added they had received compliments for their showing last Saturday against a Canterbury team who had previously put 40-plus points around Tasman and Otago.

However, Dawson said the reality was they still lost.

"A lot of people were saying we done well, '34-16 that's not a bad scoreline'. But we're not in this to come second."

Dawson said he wanted to see improvement today and while a close loss will still get them to the final that wouldn't wash with the Rams coach and his players.

"We really need to have a dominating win. If we go through to the final next week we need a marked improvement on last week."

Dawson expected Tasman to be a tough challenge and believes they will be a well-drilled side.

The Tasman side is coached by Phil Bergman who is a former player at the Warriors, Sydney Roosters, Hunter Mariners, Balmain Tigers and French Super League club Paris Saint-Germain.

The Rams were scheduled to fly to Nelson this morning leaving Invercargill at 7am. They are expected to arrive in Nelson at 10.30am which would give them a couple of hours relaxation before kickoff at 3pm.

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- The Southland Times

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