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PLAYERS wanting to push for a spot in Steelform Wanganui squad for this year’s Heartland Championship get their first opportunity to impress on Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Sixty-eight club rugby players have been named by Wanganui coach Jason Caskey to play the annual Town v Country match in Hunterville on June 1.
The teams include established representative players, contenders and young talent, such as Wanganui Collegiate 1st XV player Stephen Perofeta, who Caskey wants to give an opportunity.
“He’s pretty talented and he’s probably old enough if he’s keen to have a go,” Caskey said.
“These are the ones we have indicated we want to have a look at.”
Caskey said that, while the squads were large, experienced rep players probably wouldn’t see a lot of game time and there were always players unavailable. Everyone who turned up would get a run.
The match was about assessing fringe and new players to the region.
The teams will have only one practice ahead of the match with Town, coached by Border’s Ross Williams, and Country, by Utiku Old Boys’ coach Gavin Thomson.
“We don’t expect to see too much organisation,” Caskey said.
He will be looking at all positions.
“First five-eighth we are still reasonably thin,” he said. “We seem to have some better midfielders in the comp this year and lock’s a little bit thin again.”
It was also exciting to have the match in Hunterville for the first time and the Wanganui Rugby Union were hoping for a good turn out.
“It’s just moving it around the province a bit so it’s not all based out of Wanganui.”
Caskey said the standard of the club rugby at the halfway point had been reasonable.
“I don’t think all the byes have helped.
“A lot of the teams have struggles to gain momentum.”
Meanwhile Wanganui opens its Heartland Championship campaign against Horowhenua Kapiti in Levin on August 22.
“We’ve got everything set out that we are wanting to do in terms of games and fitness work,” Caskey said.
By Zaryd Wilson – Wanganui Chronicle