Rovers return to big-city comps

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Queenstown Rovers are returning to the Dunedin leagues this season.

The men will contest the ODTFootballSouth Premier League for the first time in three years.

Meanwhile, the Rovers women, who dominated last year’s Southland league to win the Kolk Cup, play in a revised Dunedin women’s league.

Men’s coach Jamie Whitmarsh says: “Our plan is to be competitive.

“When we first decided to go back to Southland [Donald Gray Premier League], we had a three- or four-year plan to develop our players.

“But we won it the first year with our young squad.”

Whitmarsh says Rovers men, who refocused on bringing through local youth rather than a heavy reliance on overseas players, would have won the league last year too were it not for a points deduction after they were ruled to field an ineligible player.

“So it’s time to go back.

“I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m not saying we’ll win it because I don’t think we will. But we want to be competitive.

“It’s the same for the women. The club as a whole is progressing well.”

The men’s team will face giants Caversham AFC, who’ve won it 12 times in the last 15 years, as well as Dunedin Technical and Roslyn Wakari AFC.

Rovers women will play in a revised ‘division one’ as the Kingsgate Women’s Premier is being disbanded, with last year’s top three teams joining the boy’s youth league.

Whitmarsh plans to use video technology to give Rovers men the edge after their self-imposed exile in the less competitive Southland league.

“It means we’ve got more understanding of what we’re doing in our sessions and for the individual players we can give them better information.”

Whitmarsh has bought the Hudl sports analysis software.

“I can cut footage, add information, and send that to the players. It’s a way of improving what we’re doing.”

Otago Polytech has offered to video most games, with the club shooting the remainder.

Some in-game and player statistics should be able to be gleaned from the new approach.

The men are back in training. Their first match is April 1, at Queenstown Events Centre, against Southland.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz