Squad predictable, pacy

Hamersley Cup winners Celtic have eight players in the South Canterbury squad for the next three pre-season games.

Beaten finalist Harlequins have four forwards included in a squad which contains no real surprises and offers some real pace out wide.

Four Temuka players also made the cut.

Coach Chester Scott's thinking will become clearer when he names his team for the season-opener against Otago in Dunedin on Wednesday.

The loan players are still to be named and lock Andrew Scarlett and inside back Scott Norton are likely to be added to the squad once recovered from injury.

If South Canterbury wants to make the semifinals of the Meads Cup they desperately need a playmaking first-five and a big lock.

Several new players to the competition this year will certainly add some depth with Temuka hooker Afala Tailega and No 8 Joeli Kotobolavu, who played for the successful Wanganui side a couple of years ago.

Having Mark Tutton back from overseas is also a bonus as his goal-kicking also gives Scott some options around his inside backs, with Willie Wright and Sekope Maea also halfback options.

Fa'aita Tuamoheloa also gives the midfield some real strength after playing 53 games for North Otago and 36 games for South Canterbury before that.

Celtic's Fijian wing Aporasa Tabulawaki gives the side some real pace while Tenari Saumani from Temuka has impressed at fullback.

Kurt Rooney also qualifies as a local player rather than loan after spending time teaching at Timaru Boys' High School and turning out for Waimate.

Hooker Afala Tailega will be kept honest with the return from injury of Nathan Tubb while Matt Fetu and Timaru Tafa give the front row plenty of experience.

A shortage of quality locks remains a headache, so South Canterbury will have to play cleverly, rather than traditionally.

At No 8 the competition is close with Kali Latu, Sam Vea and Kotobolavu the main contenders.

Vea can also play at seven which will give Scott an option alongside Eric Smith and Nick Strachan.

Smith, however, is likely to play at six rather than his preferred spot to provide some balance.

South Canterbury squad:

Matt Fetu, Kali Latu, Willy Wright, Aporasa Tabulawaki, Sekope Maea, Nick Strachan, Tanu Suavine, Tevita Latu (Celtic); Nathan Tubb, Timaru Tafa, Sam Vea, Eric Smith (Harlequins), Mark Tutton, Afala Tailega, Joeli Kotobolavu, Tenari Saumani (Temuka), Faa'atu Tuamoheloa, Johnny Whittaker, Johnny Andrews (Mackenzie), Luke Brice (Pleasant Point), Gary Tutunoa, Felise Gaogao (Old Boys), Kurt Rooney (Waimate), Nate Robinson (Geraldine).

The Timaru Herald