Kiwis bring winners? culture to Diehards
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
VALLEYS Rugby League Football Club took a pivotal step in what is shaping up as a renaissance year for the Diehards, with the arrival this week of three of its key player signings for the 2006 season.
New Zealand trio Colin Latu, Samuel Herbert and Jackson Crangle were given a personal welcome when picked up at Brisbane International Airport by Valleys A grade coach Graham Appo and driven to Gladstone on Sunday.
The trio all hail from the Manuwera club in Auckland where they won their second successive premiership under former international Richie Blackmore last season.
The arrival of prop forward Latu, half/five-eighth Herbert and back-rower/centre Crangle is intended to bolster the Diehards top grade outfit which has struggled in recent seasons.
The Diehards recorded just one win last season under coach Aaron Earnshaw, forcing the club to bolster its player ranks for the forthcoming season.
They will be joined in a fortnight by fellow Manuwera teammate, whose name is posing problems for Valleys officials but is being referred to as 'Sooso', who will further bolster the Diehards forward pack.
Appo had his first chance to watch the Kiwis in action at training on Tuesday night and was impressed with what he saw.
'The guys have two grand final wins in a row so they come from a winning culture and have that winning attitude,' Appo said yesterday.
'They're not here just to play football, they're here to win.'
Appo said Crangle was in great physical shape already while Herbert had also looked sharp.
Herbert is reported to be a specialist kicker in general play, adding another dimension to that area of the Diehards' game which is already well-served by Chris Jamieson and Adam Alexander.
Appo said Latu had also show surprising speed and footwork for such a big man.
He said fellow players would have the chance to meet the new recruits at tonight's training run at the club's Aerodrome Road grounds or at a social barbecue, at which the general public is welcome, to be staged at the same venue tomorrow at 6pm.