By PHILIP CHANDLER
You probably couldn’t kick off the Central Otago Premiers rugby season this Saturday any better than with a replay of last year’s Arrowtown Bulls v Cromwell final in Cromwell.
‘‘It’s probably the perfect way to start a season,’’ Arrowtown coach Dan ‘Pup’ Eyles says.
Of course, since Arrowtown were beaten 32-20, reversing the result of the 2019 final, Eyles’ team will be out for redemption.
And, as a bonus, they also get a shot at wresting the prestigious White Horse Cup off Cromwell.
‘‘I’ve got no idea what [Cromwell] will be like this year, and it’s probably a good thing,’’ Eyles says.
‘‘We’ve just got to play to our strengths, and hopefully it’s good enough to come away with a win.’’
Asked what those strengths are, he says ‘‘I still think our forward pack’s one of the strongest in the comp’’.
‘‘We seem to be a bit lean out wide, but we’ve still got plenty of fire in the backline.’’
Arrowtown are missing key players, prop Matt Flower and probably their best back, Tom Grandiek, ‘‘but we’ve got a couple of fresh new faces, which is always good’’, Eyles says.
The lack of incoming foreign players isn’t an issue, he reckons, as Arrowtown’s never had many.
Wakatipu Premiers, mean while, start their season with, if past years are a guide, an easier away game against Alexandra.
Co-coach Brett ‘Big Show’ Anderson admits, however, they might be a bit underdone.
‘‘We had one good hitout but it’s been three weeks between that and the first competition game.’’
His team usually benefits from an influx of international players, which of course hasn’t happened this year, while they’ve also lost two English imports.
‘‘I think we’ve got one South African and one Scotsman and the rest are all Kiwi boys.
‘‘But we’ve got a couple of new Kiwi lads who are looking pretty sharp.’’
The team’s also welcomed back two regulars who weren’t involved last year — Kapa Moeke and Rube Peina.
Asked if they’ll win this Saturday, Anderson says ‘‘I’d expect to get the season away on the front foot, but nothing’s easy — we haven’t had a lot under the belt, so a lot of things can go wrong’’.