By PHILIP CHANDLER
In a possible psychological ploy, Wakatipu Premiers’ co-coach claims they’re underdogs for Saturday’s Battle of the Basin season-opening rugby derby Arrowtown.
Grant Murphy backs his claim by pointing out hosts Arrowtown are defending Central Otago title-holders and Arrowtown played a pre-season game last Saturday, whereas they didn’t get one.
“We are a bit concerned, but luckily we’ve got our own Wanderers team, we’ve been able to train against them.
“Arrowtown were last year’s champions so there’s no doubt we’re the underdogs.”
Arrowtown co-coach Dan ‘Pup’ Eyles, however, kicks his counterpart’s claim into touch.
“I think you could almost throw ‘underdogs’ out the window when you’ve got a local derby – a local derby changes everything.”
Besides, he points out Wakatipu won both their clashes last season, the first occasion playing party-pooper at Jack Reid Park when the Arrowtown club was celebrating its 30th jubilee.
“We’ve only got them once this year got some payback to do,” Eyles says.
He admits last Saturday’s warm-up against Upper Clutha, which they narrowly lost, was useful.
“You can do as much fitness as you want in training but getting that match fitness under the belt’s probably a big thing for us.”
Eyles also says Arrowtown’s “a pretty similar team to what we had last year, and a few new faces have come along which is always bloody good”.
For Murphy, it’s his first experience coaching the Prems after an illustrious career playing for them.
“My dad [Gordon] supports Arrowtown, so it runs deep.
“I’ve always had a good run against Arrowtown, and I’m not planning on that changing if I have anything to do with it.”
Saturday’s kickoff’s at Jack Reid Park at 2.30pm.
The Wakatipu Wanderers, meanwhile, lost their Southland division one season-opening game against Waikiwi, 29-8, last Saturday at the Queenstown Events Centre.
Their next game is away to Tokanui this Saturday.