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Darling direction . . . Ralph Darling returns for a second season as Old Boys co-coach with Lemi Masoe. PHOTO: GREY STAR

Club rugby season is nearly upon us. Hayden Meikle catches up with coaches of the six Citizens Shield teams to see how their preparations are going, asking them:

1. How prepared are you for the season?

2. Had any preseason games?

3. Overall feeling?

RALPH DARLING
Old Boys

1. “We’re going in a little under-cooked, just with a lack of numbers. We don’t have a lot of momentum yet.”

2. “We’ve got one this weekend against Green Island. That’s our traditional pre-season game.”

3. “It’s early days but we’re quietly confident that we’ve got a chance to win that shield again. On the day, anyone beats anyone, but we’ll be all right if we get our top team going.”

MIKE MAVOR
Valley

Head men . . . Valley coach Mike Mavor (right) keeps an eye on last year’s Citizens Shield final with assistants Shane Carter (left) and Hamish Loe. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

1. “It’s been a bit slow getting started this year, unfortunately. We’ve got quite a few guys who aren’t playing for different reasons, and others who are struggling to get to training.”

2. “We were meant to have one this weekend against Waimate, but we’re still working that out. We had six backs at training last week and four of them can’t play this weekend or next. There’s a chance some Athies players will join us if we do play Waimate.”

3.  “The guys we’ve had at training are quite fit, and we’ve got a pretty decent calibre of player. We might just battle to fill the gaps for the first wee while. If we don’t have injuries, we should have quite a good side.”

DAN KENO
Excelsior

Blues brother . . . Dan Keno hopes to lead Excelsior back into the semifinals. PHOTO: HAYDEN MEIKLE

2. “It’s been a slow start, after finishing above expectations last year. We’ve only had 10 or a dozen at trainings, so that’s made it difficult.”

2. Eastern in Oamaru this weekend, so we need to scratch a team together for that.”

3. “We’ve got some work to do, so it’s probably too early to say how we are going to look. I think the squad we start with will be different to the squad we start the second round with. Several guys are out with injury, and we’re waiting on guys to arrive from overseas. We need to find some size.”

NIC ANDERSON
Kurow

1. “We’ve got really good numbers so things are looking OK. The front row is always an area you think about, but that’s the same with every club.”

2. Upper Clutha but it was sort of with two different teams, and we only had one set of goal posts. We’re playing the Blackler Memorial against Mackenzie this weekend.”

3. “Our strength is right across the team. We’ll play as a unit. We’ve got some experience and we’ve got young players. We’re going to carry a big squad because we’ve got so many players good enough to play senior rugby.”

ADRIAAN BOTHA
Maheno

1. “I think we are well prepared, skills and condition-wise. Our numbers have grown nicely.”

2. Maniototo last weekend, and beat them 39-24. We tried to get another couple of games but it couldn’t be worked out.”

3. compare with other clubs. But I think we have some talent. We’re a very balanced team.”

GRAHAM PITCHES
Athletic Marist

1. “We’re not prepared. Nine is the most we’ve had at training. We’ve got 20-odd names on paper but they’re just not turning up as yet. Guys are working night shift, and we’re waiting on guys to arrive from overseas, so we’re going to struggle in the first round.”

2. “Believe it or not but we are looking at combining with Valley for a game against Waimate this Saturday.”

3. “It’s been a struggle. But we are staying positive. Once we get all the guys on the park, we will be quite strong.”

* A full team-by-team breakdown will appear in next week’s Oamaru Mail