Greymouth to host plum zonal game
Greymouth will host the South Island rugby league team's plum game in the national provincial zonal competition.
New Zealand Rugby League southern zone general manager Steve Martin confirmed the South Island-Auckland match would be held at Greymouth's Wingham Park on September 25.
The team's home games were all played in Christchurch last season, but Martin said the Greymouth move was "part of our strategy to grow the game throughout all parts of the South Island".
West Coast Rugby League president Peter Kerridge was delighted to be awarded host status.
"We thought we were getting a game last year but it didn't happen," he said. "But the fact it's going to happen this year is great news. This is arguably the top game in the competition and we are pretty excited about it. We're hopeful that we are going to see a Coaster or two in the South Island team. We've lost two of our better players, Blair Sims [a West Coast and South Island representative last year who died in the Pike River mine disaster] and Josh Cornish, who hasn't played for a couple of years. But hopefully we'll get some Coasters to cheer on."
Former Kiwis prop Brent Stuart – who started his rugby league career on the West Coast – will coach the South Island team again. Former West Coast coach Phil Campbell will assist Stuart, alongside Dave Perkins.
Kerridge said Campbell had been replaced as West Coast coach by his former assistant, Dean McGrath.
A South Island trial match will be held in Christchurch on August 21.
The South Island side will play two home games in Christchurch, against Wellington (August 18) and Northern (September 4). Martin said they were working on a new venue, with Rugby League Park out of action since the February 22 earthquake.
Former Canterbury forward Mike Culley will help ex-Kiwis back Mike Dorreen coach the South Island 17s and Halswell duo Tom Ball and Jeff Whittaker will again guide the South Island 15s.
A South Island championship will be held in conjunction with the seven-team national tournament. Canterbury A and 20s sides will play in the six-team event.