The Arrowtown and Wakatipu Premiers rugby teams’ opening home games this Saturday afternoon present mouth-watering prospects.
For Arrowtown, who play Alexandra, it’s the first time they’ll play on rejigged Jack Reid Park, which was last their permanent home ground in 2015.
It’s also their first White Horse Cup defence this season, just three weeks out from their club’s 30th jubilee celebrations.
Arrowtown won last Saturday’s opener against Matakanui Combined by default, and trained instead for the first time on Jack Reid Park.
“The boys are excited to get out there, get their boots on and play a bit of footy on Jack Reid Park again – it’s been a while,” player/coach Aidan Winter says.
Though Alexandra’s little fancied, Winter’s also aware that sides challenging for the White Horse Cup grow an extra leg.
He says the majority of last year’s team, who reached the semi-finals, are back in red.
“We’ve got a heap of forwards.
“We’re probably lacking in backs, but we’ll chuck a forward in the backs if we have to.”
Wakatipu, meanwhile, play Cromwell at the Queenstown Recreation Ground after starting their season by whipping Maniototo 29-5 last Saturday – possibly their first win in Ranfurly since 2012.
Having controversially drawn and twice lost to Cromwell last season, including a home semi-final loss, Wakatipu are keen to make amends this Saturday.
“It’s still so early in the season so you can’t dwell on anything too much, but it’s a big one for us just to look after our home ground and try to make it a bit of a fortress,” co-coach Brett Anderson says,.
He’s delighted with the Maniototo win, especially to celebrate Raf Tuhura’s 100th game for the club, but says the margin flattered them – “we got two tries in the last five minutes”.
Anderson says the side’s “got good experienced guys coming back but we’ve got a great youthful element to our side as well – we had five debutants at the weekend.”
Both the Arrowtown and Wakatipu games kick off 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, Wakatipu Wanderers open their season this Saturday with an away game against Invercargill’s Star.