Big River Country heading for the top

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Rugby:

In the second of three weekly previews, rugby correspondent Francis Parker casts his eye over the form and makes some predictions for the coming Southern Region competition.

TOKO RFC (Axemen)

2021finished:6th

Lastchampions:1992

Predicted2022finish8th

Seasonpreview:Toko heads into this season enthusiastically after a competitive pre›season. Numbers are still below par, and injuries will no doubt cause further disruption. This is a dedicated group of players keen to show their class under fantastic leadership. Their depth will be tested.

Coach:Peter Aitken

Assistantcoach:Dean Aitken

Manager:Shane McDonald

Medic:Julie Aitken

Captain:TBC

Playergains:Kieran O’Sullivan, Jerrym Frost, Zayde Francis, Jaymz Tahana, Harley Herbert.

Playerlosses:Bernie O’Sullivan, Jacob Jenkins, Matt Lyon, Hamish Toole, Levin Coulter› Butler, Taumarewa Kershaw, Jacky Scott, Damon Clement, Arnold Dinh.

Squad Forwards: Liam Kingma, Dylan Greer, Harry Greer, Kieran O’Sullivan, Kieran Calteaux, Jesse Carruthers, James Agnew, Jerrym Frost, Kaleb Hayes, Zayde Francis, Josh Beer› Williams, Michael Aitken, Jaymz Tahana.

Backs: Dion Shaw, Nic Shaw, Cody Brady, Shaun Aitken, Harley Herbert, Brad Frost, Jared Hayes, Lockie Finch, Fareni Young, Scott Anderson.

Players to watch: Kieran O’Sullivan, Dylan Greer, Brad Frost, Fareni Young.

LAWRENCE RFC (Nuggets)

2021 finished: N/A

Last champions: 2014

Predicted 2022 finish: 6th

Season preview: Lawrence return to the competition after being absent since 2018. With some help from a committed group of players from Dunedin, it has moulded together a very competitive squad. It has experience in key areas and plenty of young players looking to make a name for themselves in the Southern Region. I can’t place it in the semifinals, however, until I have seen a little more from it.

Coach:Roger Cotton and Sam Young

AssistantcoachesHayden Wyber and Ben Martin

Manager:Nigel Cowie and Brent Davidson

Medics:Brianna Clulee, Melanie Fawn, Nastassja Tairua, Libby Jones and Sam Ensor

Captain:TBC

Playergains:N/A

Playerlosses:N/A

Squad Forwards: Sam Wyber, Regan Potter, Max Homer, Oliver Renney, Fletcher Benington, Hamish Clapp, Sam Smith, Sean Roughan, Ben Martin, Ben Plunkett, Jordan Darragh›Smith, Jacob Homer, Ben Williams, Adam Wilson, Joey Blaikie, Dusty Wallace, Byron Aitken.

Backs: James Craig, Logan Bain, Ryan Banks, Hayden Wyber, Pete Willis, Oscar Goodlet, Taylor Homer, Liam Homer, Caine Ritchie, Tim Dickey, Sam Cross.

Players to watch: Sam Wyber, Max Homer, Ryan Banks, Oscar Goodlet.

BIG RIVER COUNTRY (BRC)

Predicted 2022 finish: 1st

Season preview: Numbers have been healthy at BRC trainings this season as it approaches the start of its campaign. A few new teams have entered the Premier Women’s competition, so expect the challenge to be equally as strong as last year. Our girls will be ready and wanting to go one better than last year.

Coaches:Allan Thomson and Tony Pringle

Manager:Jane Duthie

Medic:Penny White

Captain:Tegan Hollows

2021finished:2nd

Lastchampions:N/A

Playergains:Stacey Brenssell, Abby Edwards, Jasmine Clark, Millicent Geary, Tayla Hannah, Shelby Johnston, Nadia Lyders, Irie Rickus, Kayla Dent, Sasha Scott, Kaylee Peoples.

Playerlosses:Briana Clulee, Liz Murphy, Hope White, Emma Takapi, Jessie Bennett, Keisha Crooks, Bailey Owen, Gemma Johnson.

Squad Forwards:Stacey Brenssell, Abby Edwards, Kayley Johnson, Hannah Lome, Isla Pringle, Caitlin Shanks, Tegan Hollows, Kelsey Miller, Ashlea Forbes, Te Aroha Littlee, Paige McIvor, Shanika McKenzie, Sam Storer, Jasmine Clark, Katie Willocks.

Backs:Millicent Geary, Sam Hall, Tayla Hannah, Abbey Cochrane, Shelby Johnston, Nadia Lyders, Hope Moore, Jess Paul, Lily Pringle, Irie Rickus, Nicole Kennedy, Karen Nicolson, Samarra Soper, Kayla Dent, Sasha Scott, Kaylee Peoples.

Playerstowatch:Tegan Hollows, Kayley Johnson, Nicole Kennedy, Lily Pringle.