Scorpions coach not sure what he's in for at Huntly
Huntly: the birthplace of former Kiwis star forward Tawera Nikau, the home of a giant coal-fired power station and cruelly dubbed New Zealand's ugliest town on YouTube.
It may not be highlighted as one of Waikato's dynamic tourist spots but Mike Dorreen will care little about the setting, if his South Island Scorpions win against the Waicoa Bays Stallions tomorrow afternoon.
The Scorpions will begin their national rugby league premiership campaign in Huntly and new coach Dorreen, who is no doubt well aware of the region's rich rugby league heritage, candidly admits he knows little about what to expect from the Stallions at Davies Park.
He hasn't been able to view a tape of the Stallions performance against the Northern Swords during last weekend's opening round - when the Scorpions had the bye - and has enough on his plate with mustering his young side together.
What are his expectations of the season ahead then?
It's a question he answers by noting the obstacles, including a colourful travel schedule, that needs to be negotiated.
"We are without experienced guys like Johnny Limmer and Corey Lawrie, because they are both unavailable, and have quite a few new players," Dorreen said. "We are light on experience with a number of debutants in the side.
"We have quite a tough schedule, with just one home game in Christchurch and the other ‘home' games are on the West Coast and in Nelson, which is a lot of travelling."
Josh Reuben and Kyle Leka have been appointed co-captains.
Achieving results, Dorreen added, would be determined by what he could extract from a "blend of youth and enthusiasm".
While the majority of his squad hail from Canterbury, three will join them from the West Coast and another is from Southland.
The Canterbury players train together on Tuesdays, the whole squad practises on Fridays and a light run is staged the next day.
Tomorrow they fly to Auckland before commuting south to Huntly.
The Stallions, who last weekend beat the Northern Swords 34-16 in Whangarei, have a familiar league name in their midst; prop Tane Rapira is a cousin of Warriors NRL players Sam and Steve.
Meanwhile, Canterbury will play Otago today at Crosbie Park. Kickoff is at 2.30pm.
Scorpions: Shane Bowden, Tyrone Edmonds, James Ward, Byron Curtis, Junior Salevao, Toimoana Sepuloni, Josh Reuben, Cole Green, Cameron Tukapua, Kyle Leka, Garry Hape, Josh Ka, Jaye Pukepuke. Interchange: Peter Ah Tong, Patella Tou, Jordan Kane, Brad Austin.
Stallions: Marrin Haggie, Jordan Tai Rakena, Leigh Bristowe, Mounga Molisi, Ryan Gordon, Joshua Weeden, Hayden Karena, Tane Rapira, Pirikawana Taiatini, Peter-George Rata, Dana Ratu, Fa'a Leilua, Simon Beale. Interchange: Peter Rameka, Sam Pritchard, Norman Solofa, Jason Watkins. -