After months of planning our ASB Premiership campaign finally gets underway this Sunday when we host one of this season’s favourites, Team Wellington.
This is head coach Peter Smith’s third season in charge and it’s one he’s very much looking forward to. “We made steady progress on the field during our first couple of seasons and will be looking to take that extra step this summer,” he said after wrapping up training for the week ahead of the visit of Team Wellington.
“It’s been a long, long time since a team from our region made the play-offs, but that’s our goal. It will be a real challenge, however. Every side in the league looks to have strengthened and, with the extra profile brought about by televised games, I think this will be a very competitive season.”
Smith is relishing the task of taking on visiting coach Matt Calcott’s well performed outfit. “Team Wellington did superbly well last season and, I thought, were a little unlucky not to knock Auckland City off their perch,” said Smith. “They’re one of the big boys now, the sort of side everyone wants to beat. I know Matt’s put in the work over the last few seasons to get his side to this point and I’ll be very interested to see how they go this season.
“But for us, this weekend, it’s a game we have to try to win. We have play-off ambitions of our own and to get there we have to, at the very least, win as many of our home games as we can.”
Smith is pleased with the squad he’s assembled this summer. “Yeah, we’ve got a good group. There are some exciting new faces in our squad, along with more than a few familiar ones,” he offered. “We’ve got good balance across the squad and, crucially, depth. They’ve all worked hard and performed well during the pre-season. Selecting the squad, let alone the starting eleven, for Sunday will be a tough job.”
These two sides had a couple of tight encounters and fans will be hoping for the same again on Sunday as both teams will be wanting to get off to a good start in front of the Sky Sport cameras.