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Happy days . . . Maheno coach Mark Wilson (far left) and his team celebrate victory in the Citizens Shield final last season. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

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. On a scale of one to 10, how prepared are you for the season?
2. Had any pre-season games?
3. Overall feeling?

MARK WILSON (MAHENO)

1. “Probably about a 7. We’re looking not too bad.”

2. “We played Maniototo on Saturday. That’s our one and only pre-season this year. We’ve got some goal-setting and team structure and things this weekend.”

3. “Like last year, our big strength is that we will play as a team. There are some quality players in the squad but what worked for us last year was playing as a team and understanding what we need to do. We know we can adapt to different situations put in front of us. It still seems a little bit surreal that Maheno won the Citizens Shield. We know it will be a hell of a lot harder to defend than it is to win. We hadn’t really prepared for it to happen last year. It’s meant a big change in attitude for us.”

LEMI MASOE (OLD BOYS)

1. “Only about a 5. Things have been a wee bit slow. It’s often like this at this time of year for us. Everyone’s taking time to get into the rhythm of another rugby season.”

2. “We just played Celtic on Saturday, and we had a good win. It was 33-19, I think. And we played Green Island a couple of weeks ago and had a good win over them.”

3. “I think our forwards are looking quite strong. But probably we’re looking a bit thin in the backs. If we can avoid more injuries, we should go OK but you never know. We’re training hard and we’ll do the best we can.”

Spirits are high . . . Lemi Masoe will step back from playing to coach Old Boys with Ralph Darling. PHOTO: CASWELL IMAGES

KEVIN MALCOLM (KUROW)

1. “Probably 4.5 to 5. The agricultural season has had a big impact on us. When there’s no work on, there are more players about.”

2. “We’ve got Mackenzie this week for the Jarrad Blackler game. And we played Upper Clutha last week. They gave us a bit of a thumping. But we started well and we won the second half.”

3. “If we can find one more prop, I actually think we’ll be hard to stop. We’ll be just about better in the forwards than last year. Everyone is very positive. A lot of our young guys are ready to step up. We’re determined to take opportunities and let the ball rip this year.”

GRAHAM PITCHES (ATHLETIC MARIST)

1. “A solid 7. About that.”

2. “We just played Waimate on Sunday and had a 26-19 win. We got to see a couple of guys in different positions and it was a good hit-out. We’ve got Geraldine up there this weekend.”

3. “I really think we’re going to be consistent across the park. Things are looking quite good. The boys played really well last weekend, and we’re looking to take a step up this season. There’s a good mix of young boys and experienced boys, and we’ve got good numbers.”

MIKE MAVOR (VALLEY)

1. “I’m not really sure. Better than last year, put it that way. The boys have done a fair bit of training.”

2. “We’ve just had our pre-season trip to the Gold Coast, so our first game was over there. And we’re playing Waimate this weekend.”

3. “I think we went in underdone last year, and we took a while to get going. We’re trying a different approach this year. I think we’ve got four home games in the first five rounds. You can’t predict what other teams will be like but that’s a good draw to get. Hopefully we can get in and bank some points.”

DAN KENO (EXCELSIOR)

1. “We’d be around a 6 or 7. The boys have done a lot of work on fitness, which is good. But the same issues that plagued us last year – numbers and the front row – could be a problem again.”

2. “We had a hit-out on Saturday against Harlequins, and we’re playing Eastern on Friday night.”

3. “Last year we had a couple of games with only 14 players, and we defaulted one game. So the goal for us at this stage is just to field a competitive XV, week to week. It’s baby steps at this stage.”

Man with a plan . . . Dan Keno hopes to drag Excelsior off the bottom of the table. PHOTO: HAMISH MACLEAN 

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