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2014 Heartland Preview – Mid Canterbury & North Otago

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We continue our reviews on all 12 Heartland Teams

we now look at Mid Canterbury & North Otago

midcanterbury nthotago


MID CANTERBURY

MIDCANTERBURY2013 finish: Meads Cup champions

The Hammers, again under coach Glenn Moore, recorded the best Ranfurly Shield challenge of any Heartland side in the past 14 years in holding Counties Manukau to 46-10 which indicates they will be a hard side to de-throne this season.

The bulk of the 2013 champion squad, which dropped only one match, is back again and bolstered by the addition of a few experienced players – Tasman flanker Gary Redmond, Northland prop Scott Vessey and North Otago lock Eric Duff while Canterbury-based fullback Matt Thatcher will be the Player of Origin.

Add in the return of ex-Canterbury and Tasman winger Willie McGoon, Ponsonby goal-kicking first five Murray Williams (123 pts last season) who has repped for Auckland, Bay of Plenty and the Chiefs, Canterbury halfback Jake Ashby (injured at pesent) and mid fielder Peni Manumanuniliwa and possibly Otago three-quarter Dwayne Burrows.

Hooker James Carr is sitting on 99 games for the union while last year’s captain  and No 8 Jon Dampney plus props Tokalua and Simon Fleetwood are all in the selection mix.

The backline squad again includes former Taranaki and Samoan international second five Esera Lauina, NZ Heartland rep halfback William McKenzie, fullback Richard Catherwood and utility back David Maw.

Missing from last season are former Otago and Manawatu lock Grant Polson (retired), mid field back Manase Nonu and Canterbury loan winger Muleli Bula.

Mid Canterbury, endeavouring to match Wanganui (2008-09) in winning back to back Meads Cups, has tune-up games against Southland and South Canterbury.

LATE NEWS:  ( Thanks Jason Ree – Mid Canterbury )

Scott Vessey has pulled out due to injury before the shield game,  James Carr has retired (Played 108 games) , also they have ex-Tasman Winger Brenton Connell, back in the fold after playing for Methven this season

Mid Canterbury 2014 Heartland Championship
Week One
23-Aug Mid Canterbury v West Coast Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Two
30-Aug Wai-Bush v Mid Canterbury Masterton 1:30 p.m.
Week Three
6-Sep Thames Valley v Mid Canterbury Paeroa 2:00 p.m.
Week Four
13-Sep Mid Canterbury v Wanganui Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Five
20-Sep Mid Canterbury v Buller Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Six
27-Sep East Coast v Mid Canterbury Ruatoria 2:30 p.m.
Week Seven
4-Oct Mid Canterbury v North Otago Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Eight
11-Oct Sth Canterbury v Mid Canterbury Timaru 2:30 p.m.

NORTH OTAGO

NORTHOTAGO2013 finish: Meads Cup runners-up

The 2007 and 2010 champions have had a three-match tour of Fiji and Tonga in August to warm-up for the championship, again under Munster’s Mike Mullins as coach with Troy Looms his understudy.

The Old Golds have considerable changes from last season with 10 players gone but offset by 11 newcomers from England, Canada and Argentina.

Losses include top points scorer Ed Koehane (115 pts), one of three returnees to England, second five J’Andre Liebenberg to Hawke’s Bay, and first fives Ratunaisa Vatuinaruku (to Fiji) and Ben Patston (to Dunedin).

Gains include utility back Kayne Middleton from North Harbour, Canadians  D J Sears-Buru (prop), Wayde Hodgen (hooker), Ben Le Sage (mid field) and Ben Palmer (five eighths), Argentinians Gonzallo Angella (mid field) and Diego Biro (fullback) and English backs Cameron Keenan (halfback), Chris Perry (fullback), Joe Marston (mid field) and Callum Lines.

Last year’s NZ Heartland rep trio of front rowers Ralph Darling and Matt Duff and mid-fielder Lemi Masoe are back along with 2013 skipper Josh Clark (flanker), ex-Fiji and King Counry utility back Simeli Koniferedi and top try scorer Chris Talanoa.

Despite dropping the first two games to Wairarapa-Bush and South Canterbury last year North Otago bounced back to reach the Meads final in Ashburton, losing 26-20 after winning 19-18 at home in the qualifying rounds.

The Old Golds will clearly be a strong force again this season

North Otago 2014 Heartland Championship
Week One
23-Aug Buller v North Otago Westport 2:30 p.m.
Week Two
30-Aug North Otago v Poverty Bay Oamaru 2:30 p.m.
Week Three
6-Sep Wanganui v North Otago Wanganui 2:30 p.m.
Week Four
13-Sep North Otago v King Country Oamaru 2:30 p.m.
Week Five
20-Sep Thames Valley v North Otago Paeroa 2:00 p.m.
Week Six
27-Sep North Otago v Sth Canterbury Dunedin 2:30 p.m.
Week Seven
4-Oct Mid Canterbury v North Otago Ashburton 2:30 p.m.
Week Eight
11-Oct North Otago v East Coast Oamaru 2:30 p.m.

Next Up :

 POVERTY SOUTHCANTERBURY

POVERTY BAY – 2013 finish: 12th

&

SOUTH CANTERBURY – 2013 finish: Lochore Cup winners

Previews compiled by JB Phillips


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