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The Southern region season is upon us and the off-season was not short of drama.
At first, the competition was increased to nine teams with the inclusion of Roxburgh, which has not been involved in the competition since the early 2000s.
It had a crack at the Central competition and also bowed out all together until its re-introduction this season.
The competition was reduced to eight teams again as Lawrence could not field a team.
The player shortage in Nugget country is worrying and management decided instead of trying to pull a team together each week to skip this season and concentrate on building a solid outfit for next season.
Four-time Southern region and countrywide champion Clutha looks the team to beat again this season. It has kept the majority of the squad from recent seasons and has added some youth to the ranks as well. Experienced players Kerrod Baldwin, Mala Saimoni and Matt Korteweg, who played sporadically last season, have committed fully to the season.
The Crescent Coal Miners have finished runner-up for the past two years and have developed a winning culture.
The side welcomes back some old heads but has also lost players through injury and sabbaticals. It will be hard to beat if it gets its head up.
Not much separates the other six teams. All have risen in confidence and ability over the past few seasons and each team can make a case for a semifinal appearance.
Heriot and Toko have recruited well and are confident heading into the season. Depth was a key issue last season, but they seem to have rectified this.
Clutha Valley has lost upwards of 13 players since last season and management claim it is in a rebuilding phase. It is still capable of taking it to the semifinals. Owaka, Clinton and Roxburgh all have solid squads and will work hard to dethrone their more favoured opposition.
In week one, Clinton hosts Clutha for the Helen Huddleston-George McKenzie Memorial Troph, Toko hosts Owaka for the Reg Phillip Memorial Trophy, Clutha Valley hosts Crescent for the John Cross Cup and Heriot and Roxburgh meet for the West Otago Shield.