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New look for Wai United

New Wairarapa United coach Kale Herbert at Memorial Park. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa United will have their first hit-out on Saturday under new coach Kale Herbert.

And it will be a new-look side that will take the field at Trust House Memorial Park for a preseason shakedown against Northend club from Palmerston North.

Gone are promising teenagers Jonty Roubos and Riley Grover, who have followed former Wairarapa United women’s coach and Central League player Paul Ifill to Christchurch United, now coaching that club’s Southern League team.

Many senior players from the United team who finished fifth in the 2021 Central League have also moved to other clubs.

That will mean an inexperienced, untried side will run on to the artificial turf on Saturday.

“We’ll have a bigger squad at the weekend. I haven’t seen the boys play yet, so we’ll give everyone a chance this weekend and then start to filter down what the squad is going to look like come round one,” said Herbert, who is continuing to work hard to strengthen the squad.

“We’ve picked up a few that haven’t been involved in the past couple of years and for whatever reason didn’t want to play for Wairarapa United.

“They’ve come back and seem to be enjoying it, so we’ve picked up a couple we didn’t think we would.”

Herbert is also attempting to lure some experienced players, including internationals from the Oceania Confederation.

“We’re looking to add some senior players, and if we get them over the line, they’re quite exciting players.”

After Saturday’s clash with Northend [kickoff 11am], the squad will attend a training camp the next weekend, followed by another preseason friendly against Napier City Rovers.

“We’ve got quite a full-on schedule coming up. We train on a Tuesday and Thursday night, but in a couple of weeks, we’ll be doing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday just to ramp it up closer to the season.”

The Central League season kicks off on the last weekend of March, with United at home to Napier City Rovers.

Sponsorship is one area that Wairarapa United could face a shortfall, and board member Gill Flower is seeking Wairarapa businesses interested in sponsoring a player to contact the club.

United are also looking for players for their women’s teams.

It is unlikely the club will play in the W-League after Ifill’s departure and losing several players to other clubs.

Flower said United is still weighing up their options on what league to contest. Any women interested in playing for the top team or the club’s social side can attend training at Memorial Park from 5.30pm-6.30pm on Thursdays.

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