Time to get back into the game

Mosgiel set what is believed to be a premier league record when it beat Northern 20-0. Photo:...
Photo: Getty Images
The Southern League resumes this weekend after a Covid-19 lay-off, and the three Dunedin teams will have to switch on quickly.

Hayden Meikle asks the coaches: What effect do you think the lay-off will have on your team? What is your aim from this point? Will you have a full-strength team for the remainder of the season?

Richard Murray, South City Royals

The biggest thing will be the loss of game fitness, but that’s going to be the same with all the teams. However, the players are refreshed and have been training well, so we’re ready to go.

We have a young squad, who strive to get better individually and collectively, so they still have the aim and hunger to make that top two. We have a tough three games left, starting with Coastal Spirit. A loss will all but kill off our chances, so we’re treating it like a cup final.

The "break" allowed some players to get a decent rest and rid themselves of some niggles. We have a couple of long-term injuries, which will have players sidelined till next season. However, the squad we have available are as fit as they can be at the moment, and raring to go.

Shane Carvell, Green Island

We have been working on our cardio and trying to do as much as we can during the lockdown process. It doesn’t match game fitness but we haven’t returned back in too bad shape. The lay-off has allowed also for one or two to get over some of their longer unresolved knocks and niggles.

Results for us have been disappointing this far. We need to get some runs on the board, and we want to get off the bottom of this league. We have been there or thereabouts in two of our three games. We have a game in hand over the other teams, so we need to roll up our sleeves, dig deep and put a string of performances together that we know we can.

Not 100% as many of our players are students and they have some big weeks prior to the exam period coming up. I think coming back from being locked down will be a challenge for some players’ load levels as load is not just a physical thing — it is also influenced by a person’s emotional and mental pressures. This will probably be a challenge for most teams in the league, I am guessing, especially if they have students.

Darren Hart, Otago University

You lose fitness and sharpness much quicker than you get it back so we expect that all teams are going to be a few notches down in terms of quality over the next couple of weeks. Teams will have to adapt to this and accept that mistakes are going to happen. Those that react quicker and deal with it being a bit more messy than normal will have an edge.

Really just to finish the season on a positive note. We know that we won’t be back to our best after a number of weeks out but that’s the same for all teams. We would like to pick up a few more wins, challenge ourselves and see if we can meet the targets we set ourselves at the start of the campaign.

Aside from the fitness and sharpness issues that all teams have, we also have challenges in player availability. Players have commitments made when they expected the season to be finished so we are working around that. We are also in conflict with rescheduled university work delayed due to Covid now all coming at the same time, so there are a few things to work through.

Southern League

The return

Tomorrow

Royals v Coastal Spirit, Logan Park turf, noon Green Island v Selwyn, Rolleston, noon
Nelson v Cashmere Tech, Nelson, 12.30pm

Sunday

Otago University v Chch United, Christchurch, 11.30am

Points

Cashmere 12, Coastal Spirit 9, Royals 6, Selwyn 6, University 6, Nelson 4, Chch United 4, Green Island 0.

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