Rugby: Otago hooker signs with Rebels in Super 15

Shota Horie
Shota Horie
Otago hooker Shota Horie said his goal was to play Super 15.

Horie, the Japanese test hooker, will now get his wish after linking with the Melbourne Rebels for next year.

The 26-year-old had an impressive season with Otago but made an impact mostly off the bench as Sam Anderson-Heather and Liam Coltman filled the No 2 jersey.

Horie, who played club rugby for Zingari-Richmond this season, had indicated he wanted to play Super 15 rugby but was blocked into the Highlanders by the likes of Coltman, Southland hooker Brayden Mitchell and new captain Andrew Hore.

But he has been signed up on a one-year deal with the Rebels.

Rebels coach Damien Hill said he was impressed with the work ethic of Horie, and his ability around the field.

His inclusion in the Rebels means Japan will have two internationals in the Super 15 next year. Halfback Fumiaki Tanaka has been picked in the Highlanders squad.

Horie should get the honour of being the first Japanese player to take the field in the competition, as the Australian sides begin the competition a week earlier than the New Zealand and South African teams.

Promising Otago openside flanker Hugh Blake is expected to be named in the Highlanders wider training squad.

The squad should be named in the next few days and will start training when the Highlanders assemble next week.

Otago fullback Tony Ensor is also expected to be named in the wider squad, along with Wellington halfback Frae Wilson, Manawatu openside flanker Doug Tietjens and Bay of Plenty prop Bronson Murray.

Tietjens and Murray were members of the Highlanders squad last year but were not picked in the 31-man squad named for next season.

Ensor had an exciting debut year for Otago in the ITM Cup while Wilson played most of the season for Wellington and went on the New Zealand Maori tour.

Wilson played a couple of games for the Hurricanes at the end of last season.