After two years as assistant coach of the Stags and two years in the deep South, Dale MacLeod is looking to the future of Southland rugby, with the aim of every Southland player getting the opportunity to prove their worth.
The contracting process for the SIT Zero Fees Southland Stags is underway with six players currently signed for 2020, and twelve contracts currently awaiting player decisions. Dale has a clear plan that he knows will put the side in a strong position for next year and create a winning culture.
“We’re aiming to have 18 players contracted before Christmas, with the remaining 12-14 contracts being offered in the lead up to the club season next April”, “this is an opportunity for individuals and clubs to come to us with players of potential and for us to set clear expectations around what it takes to earn a Stags contract”, “from there we will get around games and it’s up to the players to show they have a strong foundation for us to develop” .
“We want Southland’s best players in the squad, not only for pride as a region, but for the long term outlook of rugby in Southland”.
For Dale the next few years are about creating a pathway for Southland players, as well as supporting the clubs so that a strong club competition can flow on to a strong Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
If players are coming into the region to earn the maroon jersey, it’s MacLeod’s expectation that they perform for their new clubs before they earn a contract.
Dale and current assistant coach Jason Kawau have begun visiting the regions premier clubs, to understand their potential player needs and assist with their player depth, with visits to premier newcomers Wyndham and Edendale earlier this week.
All eyes will be on the Southern Field Days next February when a Southland Invitational XV play Fiji’s top club side Nadroga. The squad will be a combination of contracted Stags, Academy players as well as a representation from every premier side in next years competition.
The game will be treated as the first part of the selection process as well as testing fitness, playing ability and attitude. The squad of at least 30 proving they are ready to crack the Southland Stags or feeder team, the Southland B’s & U19s.
The Southland Invitational XV will take on Nadroga, Thursday February 13th at Fred Booth Park, Waimumu.
by Stags Head Coach Dale MacLeod