Kiwi’s coach un­likely to train on home field

Christchurch Mail - - MOTORING - TOM KITCHIN

Ki­wis coach David Kid­well may be un­able to train at his home ground for the Rugby League World Cup.

Kid­well started play­ing rugby league at Leslie Park in Hornby, and the Ki­wis planned to use it as a train­ing ground for their Christchurch World Cup games in Novem­ber, but it is un­likely to be us­able.

The Christchurch City Coun­cil (CCC) up­graded sev­eral parks this year and Leslie Park is one of many where work has been de­layed.

Con­trac­tors fin­ished lay­ing grass on the park two weeks ago, and said it usu­ally takes three months be­fore the turf can then be used.

Kid­well said Leslie Park was the foun­da­tion of his first years in the game.

‘‘It’s where I first met my close friends that helped me shape my rugby league ca­reer.

‘‘I also went to watch the Ki­wis train there when they played in Christchurch,’’ he said.

‘‘We have a backup ground if Leslie Park is not ready [but] fin­gers crossed that it will be.’’

Kid­well started play­ing league for the Hornby Rugby League Club, also known as the Pan­thers, at seven years old.

Club pres­i­dent Brent Tom­lin­son said he was dis­ap­pointed in the park’s cur­rent state.

‘‘You could grow pota­toes in it,’’ Tom­lin­son said.

The club had been un­able to use the park for the 2017 sea­son be­cause of the up­grades.

Club mem­bers were also un­sure whether hours of vol­un­teer work up­grad­ing their clu­b­rooms, so the Ki­wis had some­where to train for the Cup, would now be recog­nised.

‘‘Our end of the deal was [to] get the train­ing rooms and fa­cil­i­ties … all up to spec.

‘‘We’re go­ing to have our part of it done be­fore the grounds are done,’’ Tom­lin­son said.

The coun­cil con­tracted Grounds Ser­vices Lim­ited (GSL) to up­grade the field.

GSL con­struc­tion man­ager Kyle Innes said it had not been a par­tic­u­larly good win­ter and bad weather had caused the de­lays.

‘‘Win­ter can put a dag­ger in the heart.

‘‘As much as we tried to push it, we can’t per­form mir­a­cles,’’ Innes said.

The Ki­wis plan to ar­rive in Christchurch on 31st Oc­to­ber.

Rugby League World Cup gen­eral man­ager for New Zealand op­er­a­tions An­drea Nel­son said her team, along with the coun­cil, would make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on Leslie Park’s use in mid-Oc­to­ber.

‘‘We know Hornby Rugby League Club has worked hard on their clu­b­room re­de­vel­op­ments,’’ she said.

‘‘Re­gard­less of the tim­ing of the com­ple­tion of the pitch, the club and the com­mu­nity will have an out­stand­ing new pitch to en­joy long af­ter the tour­na­ment has been played.’’

Nel­son said a back-up field was in place, but would not say where.

Wain­oni Park in Aranui is also ear­marked for use as a World Cup train­ing field and should be ready in time for the World Cup.

Christchurch is host­ing two Rugby League World Cup games at AMI Sta­dium in Ad­ding­ton.

The New Zealand Ki­wis and the Scot­tish Brave­hearts will play the first match on 4 Novem­ber and a quar­ter­fi­nal will be held on 18 Novem­ber.


Leslie Park in Hornby

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