Kiwi’s coach unlikely to train on home field
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