Recruitment of young rugby talent will continue to be
aggressive but Otago still believes securing players is more
about desire to play for the province and taking a long-term
Troy Callander, who last year played as a lock-loose forward
for the Otago Boys' High School First XV and was selected for
the New Zealand schools side, has been signed by the Bay of
Plenty union straight out of school.
He has already been picked in a 49-strong Chiefs development
squad for three games over the next couple of months.
Player development manager Tim Colling said Otago was keen to
keep Callander but he had decided to head north. He boarded
at the school for five years and had family in Roxburgh and
also in the North Island.
Colling said some provinces and franchises were not slow in
chasing top players. Some unions were attempting to sign
players while they were still at school.
''Some of these boys who are starting out in their rugby
careers are getting chased by up to three or four
provinces,'' he said.
''Then there is not only rugby. There are rugby league teams
and the odd Aussie Rules teams which are also floating round.
Young guys have got a lot to consider when they are starting
Otago Boys' High School had an outstanding season last year,
making it to the final of the national First XV competition,
before losing to St Kentigern College, of Auckland, in the
With that run came increased exposure, Colling said.
''It puts them under the spotlight and everyone else gets to
see them on television. Everyone knows who they are. In a
sense, it is a nice problem to have.''
He said financial offers always attracted some young players.
Otago did not have a lot of money and Colling said the union
tried to give the new players in its academy a bit of
''But at the end of the day, the motivation at this level has
to come from the player themselves. We have got guys here who
are brought up here and want to play for Otago.''
The academy has 15 members, and players from the Otago Boys'
High School First XV have been selected in this year's
He said with the salary cap dropping in the ITM Cup,
provinces could not afford to buy in proven talent.
The emphasis was on developing your own, leading to targeting
young guys and getting them into the union.
Canterbury has always been accused of targeting young players
but it appears provinces in the Chiefs franchise are becoming
aggressive in chasing talent.
Otago Boys' High School coach Ryan Martin said young players
were becoming a large target market.
It was tough for the young players, as they were getting many
offers, and not only from rugby clubs. One of his players
last year had received an offer of an AFL scholarship, just
off the strength of one game on television. Many players now
had legal representation.
The South Island had not traditionally been a hunting ground
for league scouts but that was changing, he believed.
Young players were offered some money, which to older people
was not a lot, but it was an enticing amount for a teenager
still at school.
Otago midfield back Michael Collins was flown to Melbourne
and did a week's training with the Storm league side in 2011,
when he was captain of the Otago Boys' High School First XV.
He received an offer from the club at the end of the year but
signed with Otago.