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'We're due a bit of luck': Wakatipu Premiers head coach and part-time prop Brett Anderson

By PHILIP CHANDLER

After a frustrating build-up, the Wakatipu Premiers rugby side’s placing a big emphasis on player enjoyment this season.

Head coach Brett Anderson says it’s been tough having to wait till next Saturday to kick off the Central Otago comp after club training started on February 1.

‘‘There’s only so long you can tell guys to run up and down a field before they start getting sick of not getting to play a game.’’

Compounding that, Otago Rugby only allowed pre-season games over two weekends.

Wakatipu only managed to squeeze in a 46-0 romp over Wyndham after initially planning three matches, including a team-bonding away game.

Then there’ve been player absences due to Covid.

Anderson says between his and the club’s Wanderers side, they’ve usually been about 10 players down at trainings.

He’s also been frustrated the draw wasn’t released till this week.

‘‘I’ve said to the boys it’s going to be a shit-show at times, it’s going to be tough.

‘‘There’s going to be Friday night, Saturday morning changes, with the way Covid is, but we’ve just got to roll with the punches, get our feet on the park and throw the nut around.

‘‘At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, have a bit of fun and have a couple of jars afterwards.

‘‘There’s a lot of people out there struggling, we’ve just got to put a big emphasis on enjoyment.’’

However, having been beaten in the semis for the past four seasons, Anderson would dearly love to win.

And with that in mind, he says ‘‘we’ve got a really good core that have been together three or four years now’’.

Though missing key forwards Jake McEwan and Dave Fraser, and possibly having two injured fullbacks out all season, former and current captains, Bradley Cross and Steve Banks, are back, along with vice-captain Rube Peina and veteran Raf Tuhura.

Their midfield players, including Peina, Danny Kayes and Kapa Moeke, ‘‘are probably our strength’’, Anderson says.

‘‘We like to use a bit of width, but at the same time we probably didn’t emphasise last year our set piece enough, and that probably cost us in the dying rounds.’’

Like last year, there’ll just be seven round-robin games followed by NRL-style finals.

‘‘It will zoom by before you know it,’’ says Anderson, who’ll again be assisted by Tom Kelly.

‘‘We’ve had things over the last few years that haven’t gone our way, so hopefully we can get a wee bit of luck, at some point, this year.’’

Asked why he continues coaching, despite it being ‘‘an extremely thankless task, at times’’, Anderson, 31, responds: ‘‘it’s just the lads, really.

‘‘I started there when I was five years old and been there ever since, apart from a wee stint in Dunedin.

‘‘I guess it’s a second home for me, really, and you don’t want to see it struggle.’’

Central Otago Premiers draw

ARROWTOWN:
v Matakanui (away) April 23
v Alexandra (away) April 30
v Upper Clutha (away) May 7
v Maniototo (home) May 14
v Cromwell Goats (home) May 21
Battle of the Basin, May 28, Queenstown
v Cromwell Cavaliers (home) June 11

WAKATIPU:
v Alexandra (home) April 23
v Cromwell Cavaliers (home) April 30
v Cromwell Goats (away) May 7
v Upper Clutha (away) May 14
v Matakanui (away) May 21
v Maniototo (away) June 11

June 18:  Qualifying/elimination finals
June 25:  Semi-finals
July 2:  Preliminary finals
July 9:  Final

scoop@scene.co.nz