Boy from Koi stakes Hawke Cup claims
The Waikoikoi Cricket Club will take its first steps in the Southland senior club ranks on Saturday and there is one player in particular excited by the new challenge.
Waikoikoi debut in the senior grade against Marist after demolishing almost everything in front of them in the Combined Country grade in recent years.
All-rounder Jared McKenzie has been one of the Eastern Southland club's key players in recent seasons and is looking forward to testing himself at the next level.
The 26-year-old has had a busy pre-season as he looks to challenge for a spot and has tried to attract the attention of the Southland Hawke Cup selectors.
He has travelled to Invercargill every Wednesday night to train under the watchful eye of Southland coach Steve Jackson.
"I'd love to [play Hawke Cup].
"That's the main reason I've been coming down to that training in Invercargill," he said.
McKenzie, who works on his family's farm in Waikoikoi, said Waikoikoi had had a reasonable buildup to the season and predicted they would get much better as the season wore on.
"It's hard at this time of the year with everyone in the team involved with lambing and tailing and that," he said.
McKenzie said it had been special to be part of the rise of the Waikoikoi Cricket Club to the point where the town, that has just a hall, church and a small primary school, can boast two teams.
"It's been awesome. The 'Koi has done pretty well for itself allright."
The top order batsman, who also bowls off-spin, started playing cricket as a child growing up in Waikoikoi.
He played at representative age-group level for Central Otago and also played for the Otago Boys' High School first 11 for two years during his time at the school. One of his first 11 team-mates was Hamish Rutherford, who has gone on to play for New Zealand.
Waikoikoi had the bye in round one of the Southland senior club 50-over competition and on Saturday will face a Marist team looking to bounce back from a first round loss to Albion in Gore.
In other games, Invercargill-Old Boys will host Southland Boys' High School at Queens Park while Albion will travel to Invercargill to take on Appleby at Appleby.
- © Fairfax NZ News