Green Island may be missing four players for premier club final

Green Island could be missing up to four key players for the Dunedin premier club final at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The Grizzlies have been the form team in the competition this season and have made their way through to final.

They play the old enemy, Taieri, in what shapes as a fascinating encounter.

Green Island has not won the banner since 1978 and its quest to end that drought will be a little bit trickier.

Otago has a warm-up game against Canterbury tomorrow and that means star Green Island trio Dylan Nel, Ray Nu’u and James Arscott are in doubt for the club final.

Pacy winger Michael Manson can be added to the list as well. He was not named in the Otago national championship squad but is in the selection frame, regardless.

None of that will come as a surprise to Green Island. It has been preparing to play the final without the services of its Otago players for the past month.

Taieri is not as badly affected. It is really only missing Sam Fischli.

The clubs were well aware the best players would be unavailable for the semifinal and final when they agreed to the format at the start of the season.

However, Otago coach Tom Donnelly said ideally the best players would be available.

‘‘It is pretty tough at the moment with me trying to get our campaign going and club rugby still going,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve been trying to make it work but hopefully next year we will make some ground and can align it so all our Otago players can play in club finals.’’

He confirmed the players who play significant time in the game against Canterbury, or who are in contention for a spot in the season opener against Southland on August 7, are unlikely to be available for the club final.

‘‘But we will get through this game on Thursday and see what everyone is feeling like ... and there might be one or two players who can play in the club final.’’

Donnelly said Manson would not be moving south to play for Southland this year as rumoured.

He is on a professional development contract with Otago but the Stags had hoped he could join them as a loan player.

Otago has opted to hold on to Manson due to an injury to Thomas Umaga-Jensen.

‘‘He’s been exceptional in club rugby and hopefully we can get that from him at the next level as well.’’

Harbour loose forward Charles Elton performed strongly for Otago last year but missed a contract this season. He is fighting his way back from an achilles injury but remains in contention.

North Otago is understood to be keen to utilise his services as a loan player and Donnelly confirmed he was happy for him to play for the Old Golds when not required for Otago.

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