Otago is well placed to successfully defend its South
Island sevens title in Timaru in two weeks, after a solid
performance in representative matches played at Montecillo on
Assistant coach Luke Herden was pleased with what he saw from
the extended Otago squad making up its two teams on Saturday.
"We've made some massive improvements," he said.
"For some boys, it was their first real structured sevens
run-around. We're real happy with the improvements made."
With a number of top players still to come back for the South
Island tournament and the national tournament in early
January, Otago selectors will be spoiled for choice when they
name a 12-strong squad.
"We've got a tough job now.
We have to start looking at who's putting their hand up,"
Otago stumbled in its opening game on Saturday, beaten 29-12
by Southland. But it beat a second Southland selection 26-0,
as Josh Clark, Brad Weber and Hugh Blake created space well
and Liam Edwards looked dangerous out wide.
Peter Breen was accurate and creative at first receiver,
while youngsters Ben Hanley and Aleki Morris enhanced their
reputations with some good line breaks and defensive work.
Heartland union South Canterbury was the surprise of the day,
picking up wins against Otago (19-12) and Southland (29-14).
South Canterbury coach Gareth Burgess, a former Otago age
group representative and Eastern outside back, believes he
has the players to cause some upsets in the coming weeks.
"This was the first hit-out we've had and I'm very impressed
...," Burgess said.
"It's been good to play against the big boys from the big
provinces and show our guys that it is only arms and legs and
that we can hoe into them as good as anyone else."
One of the jewels in Burgess' camp is schoolboy George Lott,
who proved a standout with his high work rate and ability to
turn defence into attack.