Rugby: Otago ITM Cup squad to be named next week

Paul Grant.
Paul Grant.
Otago will name its ITM Cup squad next week but coach Tony Brown has confirmed Paul Grant will return as captain.

Brown and his assistant coach, Phil Young, will name a 28 man squad next Monday and will have a season launch later that week.

Grant (25) captained the side last year before he damaged his shoulder against Manawatu and missed the final four games.

He also played a couple of games at lock last year and has played 46 games for Otago since making his debut in 2007.

The side will have a warm-up match against Tasman in Nelson on August 4.

It will then have a short two day camp in the Catlins later that week before the final warm-up game against Southland in Gore on August 9.

That warm-up game will be a first-class fixture.

Brown said yesterday the season was coming around quickly and he was looking forward to it.

Key back Jayden Spence had been hard hit by a nasty concussion and had not played for three months.

Brown said there was some real concern for Spence but he appeared to be past the worst of the effects of the concussion.

Brown was not entirely sure when Spence would be able to play but he hoped it would be in the next couple of weeks.

The first game for Otago in the ITM Cup is against Bay of Plenty at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 18.

After that is a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato - if the Mooloos still have it - in Hamilton on August 23.

Brown said he had not give much thought to the challenge as there were other things to focus on.

Waikato must defend the shield against Northland on August 17 before it plays Otago.

Painful as it is to bring up, Otago has not held the shield since 1957 and in that time has had 22 unsuccessful challenges.

Brown played in just one of those - in 2000 - when Otago was chased down by Canterbury to lose 29-26.