Cory Chettleburgh . . . newly-appointed player-coach for Wairarapa United. PHOTOS/FILE
Chettleburgh switches focus away from mercenaries
Giving youth their big chance
A new coach, a new philosophy for Wairarapa United as they head into this season’s Central League starting on Saturday.
Experienced midfielder Cory Chettleburgh has taken the reins, having replaced long-time coach Phil Keinzley, who stood down at the end of the 2018 season.
In the past, the philosophy has been to bring in outside players to get immediate success. Now, Chettleburgh is focusing on developing local youth.
“Phil [Keinzley] stepping aside has left the club with less resources. We’re now standing closer with the Paul Ifill Football Academy and working with young Wairarapa lads getting them up to play at Central League level,” Chettleburgh said.
He had no concerns that the players would cope.
“I’m a big believer in ability and talent,” he said. “The lack of experience is something to be aware of, it will be hard, but the players are good enough”.
Chettleburgh said Rathkeale pupils Noah Boyce and Jonty Roubus had made their debuts last year and “we expect them to develop this year”.
Striker Josh Rudland and Stanley Archibald [both Rathkeale], Sam Murray [Wairarapa College], and Connor Turton [Kuranui] are other players who Chettleburgh reckons will play a major role in the campaign.
Last year’s Youth Player of the Year, goalkeeper Scott Morris, will be missing because of a stress fracture in his back.
His place between the posts will be taken by Rathkeale pupil Matt King, with Waicol 16-year-old Brad Clark as backup.
Despite the relatively young age of the squad, there is also a wealth of experience to call upon.
Chettleburgh, who will be in his fifth season with United, will fill his usual combative role in midfield. Although he’s had his fair share of run-ins with referees, receiving several suspensions and red cards throughout his car
eer, Chettleburgh said he won’t be changing his competitive nature.
“Of course, it’s important to set a good example for the younger players, but we are playing in a seriously competitive league too.”
Wellington Phoenix legend Paul Ifill will also fulfil an important role in the team. The 39-year-old may be in the twilight of his career, but his influence and organisation of the younger players on the field and his ability to create goal-scoring opportunities out of nothing cannot be understated.
Daniel Allan will wear the captain’s armband for the 2019 season. Allan was named 2018 Player’s Player of the Year and the Coach’s Player of the Year, having showed his class in multiple positions, excelling in his usual role at the back but also stepping up as a midfielder when required.
Cameron Lindsay, who will also coach United’s Under-17 side, is another capable of playing in several positions, and the 2018 skipper will most likely take a central midfield or defensive role.
Chettleburgh said it was too early to say what to expect from the season.
“I’m full of confidence that the players can play at this level and will play well, but I won’t be giving them any unfair expectations.”
Chettleburgh is also hopeful of plenty of support from the community.
“It’s great to give the young Wairarapa lads a go, and hopefully, this will create a pathway for even younger kids, and when they reach 17, 18, or 19 years old, they won’t have to look elsewhere to play.”
One downside in the changes, is the demise of their Capital Division Two team.
Wairarapa United chairwoman Gill Flower said: “We held trials, but the numbers were not enough”.
“We want to play at the higher level but there are a lot of players in local leagues, who are good enough to play, even at Central League, but they won’t come up from the other clubs.”
Flower said “we are fortunate with the Under-17s coming in and that fills the void a bit”
United will kick off their Central League season with a home game against Olympic at Memorial Park at 5pm Saturday.