WOODLANDS has assembled a very strong Premier club rugby squad, and is comfortably leading the Galbraith Shield division by eight competition points with four games remaining before the final.
At the beginning of the 2019 season, there was concern the club might not be able to field a team in the top grade. The club committee wasn’t going to let that happen and gathered a formidable team with the help of the club’s globetrotting professional player Marty McKenzie.
McKenzie’s exploits at first five-eighth had earned him Super Rugby contracts with the Crusaders, Chiefs, Blues and Welsh Ospreys teams in recent years. McKenzie has also been a steady influence in the Southland, Waikato and Taranaki provincial teams.
He has stepped out a position at Woodlands this year to make way for his Taranaki mate Matt McKenzie to take the 10 jersey.
Another Taranaki lad, Cole Blyde, has also joined Woodlands with the aim of earning a loose forward role with the Stags.
The departure of halfback Toka Sopoanga was offset by the arrival of former Southland halfback Liam Howley, who returned from the United Kingdom.
Midfielders Marty McKenzie and Ray Nu’u and outside backs Josh Moorby and Tauasosi Tuimavave have all played for the Stags, with Tuimavave playing his 50th game for Woodlands this year.
Forwards Joe Walsh, Charles Alamoa and Matt James are three of the other provincial stars in the team. Having the experience of Stags’ centurion Jason Rutledge at hooker has also been invaluable.
Due to wet weather, Woodlands transferred its Club Day games earlier this month to Centrepoint Park. The two senior teams played there and returned to the club with their supporters.
Overconfidence may have been a factor when Woodlands lost its round three match 13-11 to Eastern Northern Barbarians. This Saturday’s round eight match at Woodlands is against second-placed Pirates Old Boys.
Woodlands also has a Senior B team competing in the bottom half of Division Two. The B team is captained by openside Callum Sutherland and has won three of its five games and is second on the points table behind Collegiate. The B team hosts Bush Pirates at 2pm on Saturday.
Woodlands did not field a women’s team this year but has six Primary Grade teams.
Woodlands Premier Team: Joe Walsh, Jason Rutledge, Chris Barrett, Blair McKenzie, Matt James, Curtis Williams, Nathan Vaatausili, Cole Blyde, Liam Howley, Matt McKenzie,
Tauasosi Tuimavave, Marty McKenzie ©, Ray Nu’u, Kieran Lee, Josh Moorby.
Reserves: Jeremy Fraser, Brian Tyrell, Kieran Turuwhenua, Daniel Iosefo, Drew Carter, Brooke Wilson, Jack Dillon.