The Wakatipu Premiers rugby coach has hit the right note after playing musical chairs with his backs.
The team had their first win on the road last Saturday, beating Alexandra 34-25, after coach Lindsay Thomas played halfback Mike McKeown at fullback, fullback Todd Schmidt at first-five and first-five Damian Petre at centre.
The side hadn’t fulfilled their initial promise “so we’re looking to just fine-tune it a bit and get the right person out in the right areas,” Thomas says.
“The way we played in the first half against Alexandra [for a 27-6 lead] would suggest we’re getting on the right track – if we can do that for 80 minutes, we’ll win most games.
“I think the whole team have been playing as individuals and we’re just starting to get a bit of playing together for each other.”
The fact Thomas can swap his backs around “is just [down to] the quality of the personnel – it’s no different than [All Black] Mils Muliaina playing centre or fullback”.
His most swapped-around player is Regan Pearce, who was out injured last weekend – this season he’s started at first-five, centre, fullback and right wing.
This Saturday Wakatipu, now fourth on the Central Otago table after the end of the first round robin, face the toughest challenge to their unbeaten home record at the Rec Ground. They play second-placed Upper Clutha, who beat them 29-17 in Wanaka at the start of the season.
“It’s a big test for us, no question,” Thomas says.
“It’ll be a good indicator of how and if we have improved.”
So who’s going to play where?
“I don’t think there’ll be too many changes in position from last week.”
Meanwhile, unbeaten Arrowtown are away to Matakanui on Saturday.
Last weekend the reigning Otago Country champions retained the White Horse Cup by holding out Maniototo 8-3 in atrocious conditions at the Events Centre after their home ground, Jack Reid Park, was deemed unfit for play.
In doing so, they also took out the Vincent Shield for winning the first round of the Central Otago competition.
Premiers: Matakanui-Combined v Arrowtown, Omakau, 2.45pm; Wakatipu v Upper Clutha, 2.45pm, Rec Ground
Seniors: Semi-final – Wanderers v Cromwell, Rec Ground, 1pm
Battle of Basin – Fans’ Eye View
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
Hayden Sutton says: Matakanui will be pretty tough at home, they always will be.
But Arrowtown have been playing pretty well. It’s due to good combinations, I think – the fellows are mates on and off the paddock.
And it’s great to see all the supporters – week in, week out, home and away.
Hopefully this week we’ll be able to tell the difference between the players.
My tip: Arrowtown by 10 points
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
Stu Dever says: The forwards are playing well, the backs have got the potential to put it together and, as far as I’m concerned, this far into the season they should be starting to click.
This game is quite important in terms of the continuing improvement of the team.
Home support will make a big difference this week.
My tip: Wakatipu by 8 points