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Canterbury Country - Good Start to Representative Season
The Canterbury Country representative programme started with its senior side beating Mid Canterbury 37-17 at Dunsandel last Saturday.
One week on from the Ellesmere and North Canterbury finals, it might have been expected that the players involved would have taken time to get focused, although that appears to have been anything but the case.
“It was a good win considering that we had limited preparation during the week,” manager Dave Forrester says. “At our first training we had more players injured than not, while at our second training the coaches made sure that we stuck to the basics and got those right.”
Country is this season again being coached by Craig Hale and Greg Lewis. For this first time in a few seasons they played Mid Canterbury’s senior side and not the province’s development squad.
“We were playing for the Farmer’s Trophy and so there was plenty of motivation for the lads to do well,” Dave says.
Outstanding for Country was flanker Matt Ethridge, who played some of the match at openside flanker before reverting to number eight. Darfield full-back Scott Mitchell also had a good match, making few mistakes.
“Second-five Brad McKenzie had a great match as well,” Dave says, “running 80 metres to score a very good try and generally having a very tidy game.”
Country is this season being co-captained by Lincoln stalwarts and local legends Jason Pietzner and Matt Lowe. “They have been there and done that and they have considerable experience at this level of rugby,” Dave says.
Dave says although they would like a round-robin trophy or some meaningful competition to play for, they remain excited about this season’s programme.
Indeed, their programme is like a virtual who’s who of New Zealand’s most attractive tourist spots: they take on the Otago Colts at Leeston this weekend before flying down to Winton to play Southland Country.
“We then play the Marlborough Development squad at Kaiapoi, before flying down to Queenstown to take on Otago Country. We then have our big match of the season against Metro in Christchurch before finishing with a game against Nelson Bays at Hanmer Springs.”
Dave says that with increased work and family commitments, players now often cannot afford to take a week off and travel and so Country rugby administrators have arranged it so that the players fly to away games.
“Gone are the days of the team going away for a week, which was the case in the not too distant past. What we are doing is flying down and back in the same day.”
The match against Metro for the Craw Shield remains as always the main goal for Country. Last season Country retained the shield after drawing with Metro in challenging climatic conditions.
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