Player shortage hits combinations

A shortage of players clouded the opening day of Southland rugby league's club competition yesterday.

Bluff were unable to field a team against defending champions He Tauaa. The game had to be defaulted when only seven Bluff players were available.

Mike Lemalie, who coached Bluff, tried to pull a team together in recent weeks, but players' work commitments made it impossible. Some of the intended players are fishermen and were at sea yesterday.

"When the sharks are biting, they've got to go and get the money," Lemalie said.

"It's upsetting [to pull out of the competition], but a few of us still want to play league and we'll just transfer to another club."

City-Invercargill also could not field a team yesterday but a make shift team, which included He Tauaa and Bluff players, was pulled together to take on the Cowboys in a friendly fixture. The Cowboys claimed the competition points.

Cooks won the Karetai Cup beating Winton Warlords 40-18 in the main game yesterday. Winton coach Andrew Osborn said he was unable to field his best team because some key players had to work.

"We we did our best [in the game] and stuck at it," Osborn said.

"A couple of young guys - Jesse Gush and Chris Withers did well. Matthew Low was our best player out there."

Cooks coach Eddie Hei Hei said he was heartened by his team's performance.

"We were a bit rusty, but there were some good individual efforts," he said.

"Combinations aren't there at the moment, but they'll come with time."

The Southland Times