League: Back to full training as Eels see light

By Ben Guild

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The Otumoetai Eels' preparation for the 2014 Waicoa Bay rugby league competition has been hampered by a delay in the installation of flood lights at Mitchell Park. Photo/Andrew Warner
The Otumoetai Eels' preparation for the 2014 Waicoa Bay rugby league competition has been hampered by a delay in the installation of flood lights at Mitchell Park. Photo/Andrew Warner

A misunderstanding between council and the Otumoetai Eels is set to end this week with the completion of the installation of new lighting at Mitchell Park.

The club had been in the dark during the first month of the Waicoa Bay premier rugby league season as it waited for the council contractor to renew the lighting as part of a city-wide initiative.

Club president Stan "Bunny" Nicholas said the work had taken longer than expected.

"We didn't ask for them - they are doing it all around the grounds," Nicholas said.

"They were going to have them in by the time daylight saving finished, but obviously not. There was a house that objected to where a pole was going, and they didn't realise it was going to be a problem until the last minute. Now it's late, and we aren't getting any training in here. Not even the under-16 or under-18 teams can train here anymore."

The senior team has been forced to bring trainings forward to 5pm, which some team members cannot attend due to work commitments.

The Eels have resorted to hiring QEII to conduct fitness and skills sessions, and is thankful to the Tauranga Sports rugby club for allowing them use of a field at Tauranga Domain.

Both compromises, though, are not ideal.

"We are lucky that Tauranga Sports is giving us a field to use on Wednesdays, but even that's not going to last forever because they need it for their teams.

"It's really affected our preparations. It's really tough and unsettling," Nicholas said.

"The boys want to do a full contact training on the Thursday night, but all of a sudden they have Thursday and Friday off and the conditioning of their bodies isn't right."

Nicholas was at pains to point out the club has had a good working relationship with the council in recent years.

"I don't want to be too hard on the council because they have helped us out a lot in our nine years, but we feel we are not getting the rub of the green at the moment.

"It wouldn't matter so much, but we are playing in an elite competition and we have to be training at that high level, otherwise it affects our performance on the field."

Tauranga City Council parks operations team leader Steve Webb said no assurance was given the work would be completed before the end of daylight saving due to the small window available to complete the work following the cricket season.

"I haven't heard that was an expectation, but if that's what someone thought it comes down to a misunderstanding," Webb said.

"Contractors are still on site, the job is in progress and I've been told they'll be ready for training next week."

Webb confirmed last-minute complications involving residents forced the work to be delayed.

"We did have a discussion to do with the configuration of the poles, that's correct. It did [put the process back] but it could have rained and the same thing would have happened. That was a week the contractor had booked to do the work, but we had to finalise a few details before the work could begin."

He said the lighting at Mitchell Park would be significantly improved compared with last season.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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