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Southbridge Shield This Saturday
Ellesmere coach Kahu Carey says there is no talk of revenge in their camp as they prepare for this year’s Southbridge Shield match against North Canterbury at Culverden this Saturday.
Last season North Canterbury won the Shield for the first time in eight years with a dramatic and deserved 18-17 win over Ellesmere at Tai Tapu.
“This season our goal is to go out and do the Ellesmere jersey justice,” Kahu says. “North Canterbury will have grown as a result of their win last season and they will no doubt have similar personnel who will now know how to win these big matches.”
Kahu says that while playing in Culverden will be tough for Ellesmere and a long journey north it will also be challenging for North Canterbury’s town-based players.
Both sub-unions say that they enter the match under-prepared but that they will put their best foot forward. The sub-unions have had contrasting build-ups. While North Canterbury beat Queensland Country 18-14 last week Ellesmere has played South Canterbury (without its Lincoln and Waihora players) and lost 38-6 to Mid Canterbury last week. “We initially named a squad of 38 but we have had to call in three new players,” Kahu admits.
North Canterbury co-coach Shane Fletcher says that he expects Ellesmere to travel to Culverden very determined after losing the shield last season. “The fact that North Canterbury clubs have not done so well in the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country competition this year means tour boys will have something to prove,” he says.
Both Kahu and Shane admit that a further motivation for their players will be possible selection in the Country squad that will be named this Sunday. “The Country coaches (Wayne Gugich and Mark Treweek) have had meetings but Saturday will give the players their final opportunity to put their hands up for selection,” Kahu says.
An issue for both squads is injuries. North Canterbury for example will be missing a number of players, such as Andrew Olorenshaw and Brooke Retallick.
Shane admits that Southbridge Shield games have Test Match-like intensity. He expects Saturday to be no different. “Ellesmere will come north with only one thing on their minds. We will have to play well to repeal them.”
As well as the seniors, North Canterbury and Ellesmere square off in Colts, under-18 and under-16 grades on Saturday.
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