Father and son in champion side’s run-on XV for season opener.
Defending champions Arrowtown have a father and son in the ranks for their opening Central Otago rugby competition home game against Matakanui at Jack Reid Park this Saturday.
Despite being a No 8, Hori Elers will fill in at prop to help Arrowtown’s front-row woes. His 18-year-
old son Anare, who was at Southland Boys’ last year, plays on the wing.
Dad and son should play well together – the former Southlanders work alongside each other as scaffolders.
Hori, who’s in his mid-thirties, isn’t in bad shape – he played a few games for Arrowtown last season.
Although Matakanui inflicted Arrowtown’s only loss last season, the home team will be pumped after playing well against Alhambra Union at Carisbrook in Dunedin last weekend in the Super 14 curtain-raiser – they lost 36-10 to the Dunedin club champions.
Arrowtown lost captain/loosie Aidan Winter to a hammy after two minutes but his replacement, 18-year-old Todd Adolph, “played a blinder”, Wilce says.
Arrowtown conceded two early tries and a brace at the end but for 65 minutes the scores were level at 10-10 – a big improvement from the previous week, Wilce adds.
The Wakatipu Premiers, who completed their pre-season with a 41-5 win over a 2nd XV from Winton’s Midlands club, will meet Upper Clutha in Wanaka on Saturday.
Wakatipu coach Lindsay Thomas says Upper Clutha are “tough, rugged and to be highly respected, even more so on their home turf”.
Wakatipu, though, have a number of good players returning after a year or two away and some handy new recruits, which should help them erase last season’s horrors.
Two new faces are locals who commuted to play for Invercargill’s strong Blues club in recent years – midfielder Tom Kelly, 22, and winger Bradley Cross, 20, whose first cousin is Highlanders lock Josh Bekhuis.
Regan Pearce, 30, who’s looking to play flyhalf, is back after missing last season with injury. He also missed 2007 when he played for Christchurch’s Burnside club.
New coaches Thomas and Clark Frew are “bringing back good team morale that has been missing”, Pearce says.
Former captain Carrick “Rock” McLellan, 33, who first played for the Prems in 1995, returns as hooker/prop after a season off and 17kg lighter – but he’ll miss the first game.
The Wakatipu Wanderers also start their season in Wanaka on Saturday, playing Upper Clutha in a revived senior reserve competition.
PREMIERS: – Arrowtown v Matakanui Combined, 2.45pm; Upper Clutha v Wakatipu, 2.45pm.
SECOND GRADE: Upper Clutha v Wanderers, 1pm
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
“We have a good core back from last year with WINNING experience, however are lacking some size in the tight forwards, which will make it tough for them against Matakanui. I am sure Ewan Edgerton’s memory will be strong motivation on home turf.
The Wakatipu lads have had a good build-up under new management. I have a lot of respect for the new coaches, who have not let their battle with dwarfism get in the way of their coaching careers.”
– Ben O’Malley
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
“We’ve got a lot of new blood in the team and we’re very hopeful of a good season. And we intend in the first couple of games to start putting everyone together and let them find their feet.
We really think we can do extremely well – a big improvement on last year. And we’ve got plenty of props …”
– Phil Wilson