Turning around Southland’s fortunes will not happen overnight

The Southland players look dejected after the side lost 26-10 to Northland in Whangarei on...
The Southland players look dejected after the side lost 26-10 to Northland in Whangarei on Thursday night. Photo: Getty Images
Southland is trying hard but it is going to take a while to turn things around, the union’s boss says.

Southland lost its 17th game in a row on Thursday night when it went down 26-10 to Northland in Whangarei. It sits dead last in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship and has just four victories in its past 36 games.

The team has conceded 240 points in six games and has scored 101 points as it battles on both sides of its game.

Next up is a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato in Hamilton next Saturday.Southland Rugby Football Union chief executive Brian Hopley admitted it was tough going at the moment.

"It has always been tough but the boys are trying hard. We’ve just got to hang in there and keep trying," Hopley said.

"The guys are giving it their all but it is a tough, tough competition."

Hopley said the side was not helped by injuries which for a team lacking resources such as Southland hits harder than most.

Co-captains James Wilson and Flynn Thomas both left the field on Thursday night with injuries although Hopley said the extent of the injuries were not known. Fullback Tauasosi Tuimavave injured his hamstring on Wednesday and did not front against Northland.

"It is a numbers game. When you look at it like that we are up against it.

"But we are starting again and are rebuilding. This is the first year with three new coaches and it is going to take a little bit of time.

"There are some encouraging signs there. It is not as though they are performing poorly. But the other teams are playing a wee bit better than us. They have a few more Super Rugby players. We have got a young crew who are just budding stars."

Southland does not have any Super Rugby players in its team.

The union has six premier club teams and many have said it is hard to get enough quality players out of just six teams.

Hopley admitted it was a problem — "it does not give us a lot to pick from" —  and there were  attempts to try to get another team up into the premier grade.

But it was difficult to get players and adding another club may lead to players being spread too thin.

"Numbers are still good right through the grades but we are just struggling at the top end."

He said the coaching team was doing a good job. He did not put a timeline on how long it would take to turn it round but he has every confidence in the coaching team led by head coach Dave Hewett.

Southland had a purple patch from 2008 to 2012 when it held the Ranfurly Shield twice and competed in the top division of the national championship.

The union has the lowest player numbers of the 14 unions in the Mitre 10 Cup but there is no chance of it dropping down to the Heartland Championship.

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