Door open for inclusion in Stags lineup

Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014

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The Stags have just 11 players contracted for the 2014 provincial season with new coach Brad Mooar leaving plenty of spots open for those who impress at club level.

Rugby Southland signed just the key frontline players following the 2013 campaign leaving it open for Mooar to have a look at various players when he arrived in the province.

Provincial unions must contract at least 26 players for their campaign which means at least 15 spots are still open on the Stags roster.

Mooar made his first move signing fullback Jamie Verran from Canterbury and is now looking forward to seeing how certain players perform in club rugby.

Verran potentially could be the replacement at fullback for Robbie Robinson who is yet to sign on with Southland for 2014.

Robinson is carrying an injury and it's uncertain when he will get back on the field.

Southland has also lost another fullback option, Marty McKenzie, who signed with Taranaki.

''At the moment there are 11 people contracted so we've got them putting in the work and want to take the opportunity  - there is no secret in that,'' Mooar said.

''I can't wait to see these guys fire some shots in anger, you can do all the pre-season you like but I can't wait to get into the season and start doing some real coaching when they start playing. I think it will be great to see them get settled into their clubs and we'll monitor things from there.''

Mooar and strength and conditioning coach Mark Beer have been working with a group of 26 Stag hopefuls since January.

''I've been thrilled with the way the guys have engaged in the programme so far, we've had a squad together since late January and they've gone through a real skills and conditioning block and have come up well, certainly from where they tested at the beginning of that block to where they tested last week. The energy levels are there and it's now about time we start to look to peel back for their club season.''

The club season starts on March 29.

Last season's  contracted player Junior Ngaluafe, who left the province late last year following an assault conviction, has returned to have another crack in Southland.

He has previously turned out for Star but this season will line up for Woodlands in the premier competition and will  be one for Mooar to have a look at.

Calvary Fonoti is another that Mooar will look at and he too will line up for Woodlands.

Fonoti was drafted from Auckland into the Stags squad last season playing five games off the bench and getting one start against Bay of Plenty.

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Fonoti has opted to head south to try to prove himself through the club season.

CONTRACTED PLAYERS

Jamie Mackintosh, Josh Bekhuis, Michael Fatialofa, Tim Boys, John Hardie, Elliot Dixon, Tayler Adams, Scott Eade, Cardiff Vaega, Willis Halaholo, Jamie Verran.

Five players are also on provincial union development contracts.

- The Southland Times

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