North Otago clubs already preparing for big season

North Otago clubs are already preparing for the coming 2020 season which will have a little more edge with a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury in July.

The North Otago union is yet to decide on an opening day but all but one club have decided on coaches for next season.

Teams will line up for the Citizens Shield, held by Maheno, and at this early stage the title winner is the only club that has yet to appoint coaches.

Some new faces will be seen in the Citizens Shield games next season.

Old Boys, the dominant club of the past decade, will be run by the experienced Ralph Darling and Lemi Masoe. They will be joined by former St Kevin’s College first XV coach Robbie Breen.

Athletic Marist, which went through some hard times in 2019, has been taken over by Wayne Kinzett and Tama Loper with Graeme Pitches as manager.

The Weston-based Valley club has a formidable coaching trio in former Hurricanes hooker Shane Carter, who is an assistant coach for North Otago next year, former North Otago midfielder Mike Mavor and Barry Matthews, who is also advising the North Otago side next year.

Excelsior coaches Dan Keno and Hamish McKenzie will continue with the Blue Bulls while Kurow will be guided by Tim Anderson, Andrew Fisher, a former Maheno player and Ben Nowell.

Nowell has played for the New Zealand Sevens and Canterbury, and has coached in Japan.

 - Terry O'Neill

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