Sth Canty coach on lookout to fill gaps
South Canterbury coach Chester Scott will be hoping to sign loan players who can make a significant contribution as the cupboard looks a little bare in key positions heading into the Heartland competition.
After the Hamersley Cup grand final on Saturday, Scott will name his first squad for the pre-season games but absences and injuries could make it hard work. What the side really needs is a couple of players with the X-factor, capable of breaking a game open.
Top of Scott's shopping list will likely be a play-making first-five and possibly a fullback.
He may also be looking for a halfback if Sekope Maea does not recover from injury.
The loose forwards also look a little light going into a full Heartland campaign.
Wanting someone and landing them can be problematic as not everyone is lining up to play for the green-and-blacks, so Scott and his assistant Simon Scott have to sell the opportunity to interested players.
A big loss is that of in-form Harlequins midfielder Paula Fifita.
The Tongan's visa does not cover the representative season which is a shame after being one of the stand-outs of the club season.
A couple of fringe players are also out with Celtic's Willie Wright who is returning to Ireland, along with Waimate midfielder Miles Medlicott.
Another club standout, Pleasant Point midfielder Michael Newman, is thinking his commitments over and if he chooses not to play, it will start to hurt the side's Meads Cup chances.
Inside back Scott Norton is also carrying an injury but the 34-year-old is keen to play.
Scott is yet to sign his loan players and is talking to several possibilities.
Some have indicated an interest but as usual they are waiting to see if higher honours await in their home provinces.
Scott is keen to have last season's "player of year" Liam Edwards return.
Taranaki development first-five Rick McKenna and Lincoln University's Steve Burt are also possibilities. Dutch international lock Stefan Vos has returned home but his absence is covered by the return of former captain Andrew Scarlett.
The front row looks solid with Matt Fetu, Timaru Tafa, Johnny Andrews and Nathan Tubb all fit, while Pleasant Point newcomer Mike Tuiloma looks to be a good prospect.
Nick Strachan, Kali Latu and Sam Vea are likely to be the starting loose forwards but some depth is still required with the retirement last season of veteran Eric Smith
The inside backs are causing the biggest headache but the midfield will be anchored by the experienced Faa'itu Tuamoheloa.
It is a shame that Celtic's Patolo Tupuola does not make himself available as he would certainly add some punch.
Mackenzie utility George Folau is likely to find a spot in the back three along with Celtic speedster Aporosa Tabulawaki.
The availability of in-form winger Maile I'Ongi will be another puzzle Scott has to work through.
The coaches will be keen to lift their side into the Meads Cup contention after the wheels came off late last year after the debacle over eligible loan players, eventually losing the Lochore Cup final to Buller and finishing sixth.
However, this year it will not be an easy task as the 2012 team was a well-balanced outfit.
- The Timaru Herald