It’s tough at the Topp

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Arrowtown and Wakatipu Premiers rugby players get their last chance to impress Central Otago selectors on Saturday. 

Coaches of both teams say they’ve each recommended seven or eight names to the selectors, who’ve also been attending recent matches. 

The Central Otago side, who will play their annual Topp Cup fixture against South Otago on Queen’s Birthday, June 7, is likely to include a strong contingent of local loose forwards. 

Arrowtown coach Blair Wilce and his Wakatipu counterpart Kelvin Middleton both claim their teams have the Central Otago competition’s best loosies – Arrowtown’s are Daniel Dodds, Aidan Winter and Ben Chisholm, and Wakatipu’s are Cole Pewhirangi, Toi Roberts and Ben Blakey. 

Meantime, Wilce says Cromwell will present a “very tough” White Horse Cup challenge at Jack Reid Park on Saturday. 

“It’s the same old story, it’s their big shot at it – most teams, when they get a crack at the cup, seem to lift,” says Wilce, who’s wary of the mid-table visitors’ “four or five dangerous backs”. 

Despite resting some top players, unbeaten Arrowtown still whipped bottom-of-the-pile Alexandra 69-7 away last Saturday and have successfully defended the cup 11 times since April last year. 

Wakatipu co-coach Middleton insists his Premiers side will be at full strength when they tackle lowly Alexandra away this Saturday. 

“We want to continue building combinations,” he says. 

Middleton is pleased with his side’s 22-10, four-tries win over Matakanui in Omakau last Saturday after a slow 
start. “We were still at Alexandra having our lunch as we started playing.”