Burnham Chevaliers’ connections with the Burnham Military Camp is an important part of the club’s culture, but this presents challenges which can be hard to handle when it comes to mounting a challenge for the CRL Division One grand final.

“Having a team that’s mostly soldiers is hard because of exercises and work commitments, to get guys that are consistently at training and especially playing competitively,” said Chevaliers coach Nui Alosio.

Last season the team was largely made up of soldiers but this year the side consists of more civilian players – something which Alosio thinks helps their team’s fluidity.

“This year because we’ve got a lot more civilians in the club, you’ve got that core of people who are always there to train and be at game,” he said.

Alosio also believes the club’s connection with the Rolleston Warriors has helped.

“We send our kids there, and because they don’t have a men’s grade, they send (their senior players), so it works both sides.”

The Chevaliers finished third last season before being pipped 33-32 by Marist Saints in an epic preliminary final. But the club is poised to go at least one better in 2018, losing just one game to seal top spot heading into the finals.

With just one round remaining Burnham are four points clear of Ashburton Barbarians, who inflicted the Chevaliers’ only defeat in June. Seven times this season the Chevaliers have piled 38 points or more and they average 48 points per game.

Alosio asserts that the team’s success this year is down to the core group of players being available week in and week out, allowing the team to gel and get good training hours in.

“We’ve got a bigger civilian core that can come to training and can turn up to games consistently, so we can work better game plans and better playing systems,” Alosio said.

“Last season, because we were mainly soldiers, we lost our semi-final because we didn’t have enough players. We only had 15… and two of them were injured.

“When you start getting to the meat of the season where points matter is where we start doing our big exercises, so soldiers get called away for that.”

Alosio explained the club is trying to get involved in the Burnham community, so people know the club isn’t just for soldiers – it’s for everybody.

The club also boasts a team in the Women’s Premiership, who have chalked up three wins in 2018 despite only re-entering the competition this year.

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