Otago to pressure South Canty in Dunedin

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2012

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South Canterbury coach Chester Scott is keen to see how his team will cope under pressure when they take on Otago in Dunedin tonight.

Scott said it was a real challenge playing the Wednesday after a grand final, and he had lost three frontline players from it.

"It will be good, however, to have a run around and we are using rolling substitutes, so everyone will get game time.

"I'm treating it as an opportunity to see how they perform under real pressure."

Scott is only using senior club players as he has yet to finalise his loan players for the season.

Celtic's Willie Wright has won the race for the starting halfback spot ahead of team-mate Sekope Maea, with Mark Tutton to start at first five.

Outside Tutton, Tanu Suavine will join Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa in the midfield, with speedster Aporasa Tabulawaki on the left wing and Maea on the right.

Johnny Whittaker gets the fullback spot but Tenari Saumani or Kurt Rooney is likely to also see some time there.

The backline need to spin the ball out wide to give especially Tabulawaki some space.

With Timaru Tafa injured and Matt Fetu concussed, Aaron McCall gets the callup and joins Afala Tailega and hooker Nathan Tubb in the front row.

Tubb has been out for six weeks with injury so it will be a big test for him.

Luke Brice and Gary Tutunoa are the locking combination and will need to impress with Andrew Scarlett likely to be back for the first Heartland game and with Dutch international Stefan Vos likely to be confirmed as a loan player.

With Nick Strachan also injured, Eric Smith gets a start at his favoured spot on the openside flank with Sam Vea on the blind and Kali Latu at No 8.

The breakdown will certainly be a key area and should be a South Canterbury's strength with Vea and Latu especially in good nick, while Smith never plays a bad game.

With rotating subs preferred as both sides look towards their respective campaigns it is not a first-class fixture.

This means the veteran Smith will have to wait until the second round of the Heartland competition, against East Coast at home, to notch up his 100th first-class game.

It will also be interesting to see where substitute Felise Gaogao is utilised.

He is named as a forward reserve but is also capable of playing in the midfield.

Scott said that will depend on the game but he expects a number of players to be tried in a number of positions.

"Sekope will definitely get some time at halfback but it is also a chance to move others around."

The coach said the naming of his loan players could still be some time away as the Christchurch club final was still three weeks away and Wellington's was in a fortnight.

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"Vos is keen to come and we are in talks with others, and it includes a first five, but we have to wait."

Scott said he knew little about the Otago players but believed they would be a tough opposition.

Former Timaru Boys' High School captain Aki Seiuli is not, however, in the side as his club team Taieri face Dunedin in the Gallaway Trophy final on Saturday.

The game kicks off at 5.30pm at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

FACT BOX

Last time South Canterbury played Otago in a first-class game was in 1997 in Timaru. They lost 29-27 but Otago had All Blacks Glen Osborne, Alana Ieremia, Junior Tonu'u and Norm Hewitt among their ranks. All up South Canterbury have played Otago 91 times for 17 wins and 4 draws

- The Timaru Herald

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