The 2021 Woodward Cup competition starts this Sunday at Russley Golf Club, and with some off season player movement around Canterbury there are early signs that this could be a very even competition which will transition into some captivating match-ups, especially at the top of the orders. As expected, a number of teams have been preparing for some time now and involved in warm-up matches over the past month leading into round one. Several teams have a very settled look to them enabling them to build on their momentum from 2020, while others have a new look to their squads and expectations will be high.
Hosts and current Champions Russley have retained a similar squad to last year with the addition of Dominic Brettkelly, while they have lost the services of both Miya brothers Hiroki and Hayato who will be attending University in the USA and Japan respectively. The team has the potential to go back-to-back with Reid Hilton, Regan Kilpatrick, Ben Baker, Michael McAuley, Owen Burgess, Jake Roberts and Andrew Dufton just to name a few in a very strong Russley outfit. They meet last year’s semi-finalist opponent Avondale who also have a very settled looking squad with the experience of Sam Purdon, Nick Brennan and Richard Sinclair at the top of the order, together with Hayden Burns, Nathan Andrews, Dan Moriarty and Dean Harvey are all capable of giving ‘the Dale’ realistic top four aspirations. Teariki Tangiiti is also a new face in the squad returning to competitive golf this season.
Weedons have lost the services of Will Bastings and James Metzger from last year, but welcome Cam Harker and their import Hayden Clinton from Akaroa to strengthen their line-up of Jonathan Stieller, Austin Hamilton, Bryden Grant, Shaun Payne, Devon and Brad Nightingale, Keith Mills and Peter Fox. With more depth to their team this year they will be determined to improve on last year’s finish. They meet Harewood in round one who will also be looking to improve on a mid-table 2020 finishing spot with a relatively unchanged squad from last year apart from the addition of Anuresh Chandra from Hororata. Matt McLean, Josh Smith, Scott Manyweathers and Sam Watkinson will again be looking to get their campaign off to a flying start similar to last year, along with Kerry Branson, Harry Weeds, Ryan Barham and player/manager Gavin O’Hara.
Bottle Lake take on last year’s semi-finalist Pegasus first up and have added import Jed Robertson from Amberley and Steve Bell to their squad, while Ben Burgess has moved to Clearwater. Andrew Green, Lachie Mackay, Kieran Sharvin and Jason Campbell will seriously test any top order together with Aaron Neill, Daniel Asplin and Steve Dellow who round off a very balanced looking side. They will have their hands full in round one against a Pegasus team who will be looking to go one better this year. Their top order of Kazuma Kobori, Zach May, Peter Brinsdon, Shaun Allan, Scott Ritchie and Phil Stephens looks formidable together with James Cadenhead, Nathan Gilbert, Marcus Mariu and newcomer Chris Posa from Tauranga.
Waitikiri will meet last year’s runner-up Christchurch in round one and if not for a number of close halves last year could have finished much closer to a top four finish. They have a very settled line-up with plenty of experience to boot in Jin Sung Kim, Aaron Forsyth, Brett Turner, Kris O’Neill, Antony Dale, Woobong Kim and Simon Marshall. Jacob Hyland will also be one to watch as the rounds progress. Christchurch will have a new look this year without Mike Toeke, Marcel Boet, Jordan Bakermans and Nick Franzmann. Jason Sincock, Richard Reed, Finlay Jones, John Rademakers, James Pearson, Ian MacDonald and 18 year olds Mika MacDonald and Cosmo Graham from Hastings will shape a rebuilding phase for Christchurch and they will still be very competitive and have a point to prove.
The final match of the round between Templeton and newly promoted Clearwater will be a litmus test for both sides, Templeton with a number of new faces in their squad have been busy in the off season moulding their team together while Clearwater also with new faces added to their 2020 winning Blank Cup squad will be looking to start their first match on a positive note. Templeton have strengthened their top order with Canterbury Captain Mike Toeke and Nick Franzmann moving from Christchurch, and together with Jordon Latter, Tom Wilson, Ryan Bellamy and Josh Simpson will be tough to roll. They have depth in their line-up with Dan Laughton and newcomers Sam McGill and Paul Burke also looking to make their mark. Clearwater have retained the nucleus of last year’s top order in Ryan Adams, Harris Kim and Leon Yee and returning are Michael Bailey, Will Bastings and Ben Burgess. New faces in the squad are Marcel Boet from Christchurch, Seb May from Russley and Archie Gothard from Royal Auckland, now residing in Canterbury.
We are very privileged to have our champion men’s interprovincial Canterbury players competing against each other, together with our top masters players and up and coming young talent over the next 3-4 months, providing great entertainment at the various Canterbury venues.
Click here to view the Draw, which culminates on Finals Day at Christchurch Golf Club on 21 November.