As the Southland Stags prepare for their final match of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup against Manawatu on Sunday, the first building block for 2019 has fallen into place, with standout lock forward Manaaki Selby-Rickit confirming his allegiance to the team for the next two seasons.
Stags Head Coach Dave Hewett is understandably delighted one of his side’s best performers from this year’s campaign will play his provincial rugby in the south for the next two years.
“Manaaki has had a really good year. He’s caught the eye of higher honours and we are stoked to have him signed for multiple seasons. You can’t coach height and he’s been a real presence at lineout time and has brought a real maturity to his game this year. He has a unique skillset where he is strong in the carry and is always a danger with his offloading ability,” he said.
“It’s a great start for all of us involved in the camp to see a player of his calibre commit to the group and he really wants to be a part of the rebuild over coming seasons which is heartening,” Hewett said.
Whilst this season hasn’t produced the on-field results he or the team have wanted, Selby-Rickit credits Southland’s turn-around as a key motivator for his staying with the province.
“We’re on the rise. I know we haven’t got the results this year, but I honestly feel like we are heading in the right direction and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
“I know I’ll be happier here getting that win with Southland than I would be getting it somewhere else. Being an ex-Manawatu boy, hopefully it’s this weekend,” he said.
After limited game time in 2018, Selby-Rickit has been one of the Stags’ most consistent performers throughout the season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable with my game this year. I’m really enjoying my rugby and I’m just happy to keep improving and building my confidence at this level,” he said.
The Stags end their season against Manawatu at Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North at 4:35pm Sunday afternoon.
Article added: Thursday 11 October 2018
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