A new-look Steelform Wanganui Heartland rugby squad is shaping up well as the representative season looms.
Incoming coach Karl Hoskin said he already had a training squad of 26 players, although his plan was to assemble a wider squad of around 30 in the lead-up to their first match against King Country at home on August 24.
"We have held two training sessions so far and I'm real happy," Hoskin said yesterday.
"They've been really good sessions, with a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm."
Hoskin, assistant coach Daniel Rolls from Ohakune, scrum coach Darryl Hoskin and Heartland manager Chris Back have combined to select the squad and prepare a comprehensive training programme.
"We all have a say in who is in the squad, which includes a number of newcomers to this level after several of the old hands have pulled out from last season.
"And these younger guys are really putting their hands up. I'm actually very keen to get two young players - age is not that important - to train with the Heartland squad with a view to making the team within two years. There are a lot of 18-year-olds already playing premier club rugby and I'm looking for a young forward and a back to train with us."
"We are looking to fill crucial positions in the future and our plans are tailored to cater for this. We are planning three or four training camps in Ohakune within the near future before coming back to Wanganui again near the end of June."
The Wanganui representative side has a wonderful record in the seven-year history of the Pink Batts Heartland national championship. Wanganui has won the Meads Cup three times (2008, 2010, 2011) and finished runners-up four times (to Wairarapa-Bush in 2006, North Otago in 2007 and 2009 and East Coast last season).