South Canterbury coach Nigel Walsh and South Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Craig Calder hope to bring the Ranfurly Shield back to the province for the third time in history.
They’ve lifted the Ranfurly Shield twice before, and now, South Canterbury rugby players are hoping to do it for a third time.
The South Canterbury traveling squad for the Ranfurly Shield match being played against the Hawkes Bay Magpies in Napier next Wednesday was named on Tuesday and coach Nigel Walsh said it was “bloody hard” picking 25 players, form the 24 training squad, for the traveling squad .
“Last night was hard, telling some of the guys they didn’t make the team,” Walsh said on Wednesday.
“All of the training squad were strong players, and it was really hard to narrow it down. Thirty-four doesn’t go into 25.”
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South Canterbury has won the shield twice – in 1950 and 1974, and Wednesday’s game will be the first time they have competed for the Ranfurly Shield since losing to Canterbury in 2006.
As the 2021 Heartland Championship Meads Cup winners, they automatically had the right to challenge for the shield.
“It would be fantastic to bring the shield home, but it is just a privilege to play for it,” Walsh said.
“It will certainly be an Everest of a challenge, it’s not everyday you get to play in a Ranfury Shield.”
Walsh said they are taking two extra players just in case of injury or Covid-19 issues.
The South Canterbury Ranfurly Shield game on Wednesday is special on many levels as Nick Strachan will play his 100th game for South Canterbury, Walsh said.
“We would like to do what we can as a team to make that game special for Nick and for South Canterbury” Walsh said.
“Not many players can say their 100th game is a Ranfurly Shield game.”
The team will practice on Thursday night and have another practice and game on Saturday before flying to Napier on Tuesday for Wednesday’s game.
South Canterbury Ranfurly Shield Challenge Traveling Squad
Tokomaata Fakatava – Waimate
Vaka Taelaga – Temuka
Garrett Casey – Celtic
Keagan Gray – Pleasant Point
Conor Anderson – Celtic
Junior Faavae – Temuka
Anathony Amato – Waimate
Solomone Lavaka – Temuka
Cam Russell – MacKenzie
Nick Strachan – Celtic
Tangi Savelio – Temuka
Eteinne van zyl – Temuka
Loni Toumohuni – Waimate
Theo Davidson – Waimate
Willie Wright – Celtic
Sam Briggs – Tasman
Paula Fifita – Harlequins
Miles Medlicott – Waimate
Zac Saunders – Celtic
Zac McKay – Christchurch
Kalavini Leatigaga – Temuka
Sireli Buliruarua – Harliequins
Tomasi Bikaca – Celtic
Liueli Simote – Temuka