Shield squad set to be named

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - TRADES AND SERVICES DIRECTORY - ERIN TASKER

The lure of a Ran­furly Shield rugby chal­lenge on home soil means Mid Can­ter­bury’s coaches are spoiled for choice as they close in on nam­ing their fi­nal 2017 squad.

Play­ers re­turn­ing to their roots, and a few out-of-town play­ers sign­ing on with Mid Can­ter­bury clubs, means co-coaches Craig Dun­lea and James Jowsey have had a tough job with huge depth to pick from ahead of the squad’s nam­ing fol­low­ing Satur­day’s Wat­ters Cup fi­nal.

Mid Can­ter­bury’s had one hitout al­ready, a win over Ellesmere. They’ll play South­land in Waik­ouaiti on July 29 be­fore the Ran­furly Shield against Can­ter­bury in Ash­bur­ton on Au­gust 4, then it’s Heart­land Cham­pi­onship time.

‘‘There’s some good com­pe­ti­tion. There’s some new guys in the area that are go­ing to add to it, and some good young guys are step­ping up. We’ve got a good mix of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth, and you need that youth as well be­cause it cre­ates en­ergy,’’ Dun­lea said.

Dun­lea said the squad was al­most fi­nalised, but they were keep­ing an open mind.

Among those el­i­gi­ble to play as a lo­cal player this year was in­flu­en­tial first-five Jared Per­ci­val, who played for Mid Can­ter­bury as a loan player in 2016. Af­ter start­ing the year with Old Boys in Christchurch he has fin­ished the sea­son play­ing for Celtic. He’s been joined at Celtic by Kurt Pol­son, who grew up in Mid Can­ter­bury, while Rakaia has also picked up a player from Christchurch in Marist’s Dan Fransen, who has played sev­ens and colts for Can­ter­bury. Rakaia has also picked up South­bridge’s Wil­lie McGoon, on his re­turn from shoul­der surgery.

Wai­hora’s Ja­son Kjestrup is also an op­tion, hav­ing joined Methven af­ter a stint play­ing pro­fes­sional rugby in Hong Kong. Methven has also picked up prop Adam Ste­wart.

To be in­cluded in the Mid Can­ter­bury squad as a lo­cal player, play­ers had be in the union by the first Fri­day in June. Dun­lea said there had been no shoul­der tap­ping, it had just worked out that all of those play­ers were here and it had been good for club rugby, rais­ing the bar for every­one. No one was guar­an­teed a spot in the squad; ev­ery player had to prove him­self, Dun­lea said.

Last year he was an im­port, but hav­ing played for Celtic this year, Jared Per­ci­val will this year be el­i­gi­ble to play for Mid

Can­ter­bury as a lo­cal player.

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