2020 Francis Mining Buller Rugby Heartland Squad: Team Announcement
Heartland Squad Assemble
The Francis Mining Buller Heartland squad will attend a season camp this weekend as they prepare for a three match representative season during September.
The squad has been entirely selected from the Buller club competition with no loan players this year.
Buller will play in Hanmer on September 12 against Mid Canterbury, followed by a series against South Canterbury, in Timaru on September 19 and then in Westport on September 26.
Buller selector/coach Gus Martyn had assembled a wider training squad throughout the latter stages of the club season. The final squad is now training twice a week with the annual camp set for Saturday.
The squad has a very youthful feel about it which bodes well for the future of Buller Rugby. In the current squad, 9 players are set to make their first-class rugby debuts for Buller.
In the forwards, providing experience will be Stephen Crackett, Anthony Ellis and Kahu Parata. Parata has been named as captain of the side on the back of impressive leadership shown throughout the club season. Young players Ben Pratt and Michael O’Regan have earnt their way into the squad after strong seasons for their respective club sides. Zach Walsh and Gabba De Kock will provide some much needed size to an otherwise light back 5 in the forwards, with Walsh in particular having a strong club season for championship winning club Westport.
In the backs, the Old Boys inside backs pairing of Thor Manawatu and Jesse Pitman-Joass will be keen to carry on their club form together. Both players bring great skill-sets to the squad including strong kicking games and distribution skills. Westport halfback Caleb Aldridge will also be keen to prove his worth after a strong season at the base for Westport. In the midfield, Iliesa Tora will be Buller’s most experienced player this season. The White Star try scoring machine will be keen to cross the whitewash and provide plenty of spark to a young backline. The fullback role will be keenly contested between impressive young fullbacks, Alex Paterson and Joel Hands. Both players were instrumental for their club teams this season and will feature prominently for Buller this season. Leading club try-scorer Hendrix Babbington will be keen to test his skills at representative level, the flying winger had a great 2020 club season scoring 10 tries through the 7 week season.
The penultimate round of club rugby saw the return to the game for White Star’s Jesse Forsyth. His cameo from the bench that day followed by an impressive outing against Westport during the last round robin game has earnt his place in the final squad and looks set to make his representative debut on September 12.
Unfortunately a number of other players to impress throughout the club season are unavailable for the representative season. Of note, Jason Thomas, Jacob Poynter, Jacob Hardaker and Sam Jope have all made themselves unavailable whilst the season ending injury to regular Westport captain Andrew Norton-Taylor ended his chance of a representative comeback in 2020.
12 September vs @Hanmer
19 September vs @Timaru
26 September vs @Westport
Francis Mining Buller Rugby Heartland Squad :
Stephen Crackett : Westport RFC
Anthony Ellis : Ngakawau / Karamea RFC
Ben Curnow : Ngakawau / Karamea RFC
Peter Foote : Westport RFC
Mason Briant : Ngakawau / Karamea RFC
Ben Pratt : Old Boys RFC
Michael O’Regan : White Star / Reefton RFC
Zach Walsh : Westport RFC
Gabba De Kock : White Star RFC
Kahu Parata (captain) : Westport RFC
Kyle Te Tai : Westport RFC
Dylan Rusbatch : White Star RFC
Thor Manawatu : Old Boys / Reefton RFC
Caleb Aldridge : Westport RFC
Jesse Pitman-Joass : Old Boys RFC
Iliesa Tora : White Star RFC
Tokohau Samuels : Westport RFC
Alex Lean : Old Boys RFC
Jesse Forsyth : White Star RFC
Joel Hands : Westport RFC
Mitieli Kaloudigibeci : Westport RFC
Alex Paterson : White Star RFC
Hendrix Babbington : Old Boys RFC
Gus Martyn : Head Coach
Tim Manawatu : Assistant Coach
Chris Aldridge : Manager
Silas Carey : Physio
Maisie Halsall-Rae : Assistant Physio