Some slight tweaks to the make-up of Southland’s junior representative teams will be of focus when they compete in the annual Southern Junior IPS in Christchurch this weekend.
Over the past few years Touch Southland have sent separate teams from Southland (Invercargill based featuring country players) and Queenstown to the South Island tournament.
After a review of the entire representative programme at the end of the 2017/18 season it was decided under-12 and under-14 players from Southland and Queenstown would join forces for this year’s South Island IPS, with the aim to provide every child with a realistic chance of winning a medal. Boys and girls from all teams were selected into a boys, girls and two mixed teams after the Oamaru triangular tournament a fortnight ago. A training day was held in Winton last weekend to allow the players to come together and gel both on and off the field.
This weekend will see Southland send 10 teams to Christchurch. The under-12 boys’ team will be a fair chance of pushing neighbours Otago and Canterbury. The Queenstown based side went down to Otago by just one touchdown a fortnight ago in Oamaru. Adding in a mix of Invercargill based players will give them the opportunity to potentially get one over their provincial neighbours when they clash on Saturday evening it was should be an exciting game.
The under-12 girls will also fancy their chances this weekend. The Invercargill based side made the Oamaru final only going down to Canterbury 3-2, with the addition of some Queenstown players the side has a real chance to flip the result of a fortnight ago.
Both under-12 mixed teams should be right amongst the medal contenders, with a strong sprinkling of male and female talent from the Invercargill and Queenstown based sides.
In the under-14 grade the boy’s team will also be wanting to turn fortunes around after the Invercargill based team suffered a narrow 3-2 loss to Canterbury in Oamaru.
Both under-14 mixed teams will be wanting to come together and grow from their training camp last weekend. They will both take on Nelson, Canterbury and Otago before contesting semi-finals on Sunday afternoon.
The under-14 girls will also be taking part in the under-14 girls’ grade and have a good sprinkling of both Invercargill and Queenstown players.
Southland under-16 boys and girls’ teams will also be competing at this weekend’s tournament and will be eager to push themselves against the best the South Island has to offer.
The majority of under-16 players are in their first year in the grade, so this tournament will provide them with valuable experiences. Both teams had positive results in the Oamaru tournament and will be eager to see how far they have progressed this season. The hope will be they can come back in the under-16 grade in 2019 and be a dominant force.