Dunedin players for Rams

Dunedin basketball players Richie Rodger (20) and Josh Aitcheson (19) at the Edgar Centre this...
Dunedin basketball players Richie Rodger (20) and Josh Aitcheson (19) at the Edgar Centre this week after signing with the Canterbury Rams for 2018. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Red and black are not usually an Otago player’s first choice of colours to wear.

But for Richie Rodger and Josh Aitcheson, they will make a pretty good alternative in 2018.

The promising duo have signed with the Canterbury Rams for next year’s National Basketball League.

It will be a return to the team for Rodger, who had a stint with it before leaving for college in 2015.

For Aitcheson it will be a new experience, although Rodger offered his reassurances about wearing red and black.

"It’s not too bad," the 20-year-old guard joked.

Not too bad indeed.

While still very much Otago players, they were excited by what the Rams had to offer.

Having both spent time around the fringes of national league squads, the pair look likely to play more major roles in the league for the first time.

"If the Nuggets finally pull through and get a team, then we’d definitely be excited to come back here," Aitcheson, a 19-year-old swingman, said.

"But Canterbury’s a great place and they’ve got a really good organisation up there with the Harrisons and Mark [Dickel] and stuff.

"We’re looking forward to playing for them."

The team was coached by former Otago Nuggets coach Dickel, who had approached the pair about signing with it.Both jumped at the chance.

For Aitcheson, a bigger role than what he had on the Southland Sharks last year was on offer.

Meanwhile, for Rodger — who spent the past two years at college in the US — it was a better option than what was on the table overseas.

He had been looking to transfer up after two years at junior college.

The NBL was a level up from most of what either had played in the past, although they hoped they would adapt.

"I think we’ll, hopefully, get used to it fairly quickly," Aitcheson said.

"But the small taste I got was that it was a lot faster, a lot stronger people and tough to keep up.

"But hopefully we can switch on to that pretty quickly."

The duo would move to Christchurch for the season and probably flat together up there.

However, Aitcheson would still spend plenty of time in Dunedin.

He planned to continue his finance and accounting degree at the University of Otago.

While he would miss part of the year, he would be around for the start of semester one and most of semester two.

With a lot of lectures now being posted online, he hoped to make it work, although he would return to Dunedin when he had to.

Meanwhile, Rodger would probably find a job in Christchurch.

The NBL would no doubt take priority, but both were keen to continue playing for the Mid City Magic in Dunedin when they could.

That would depend on timing, although Aitcheson said they might be able to sneak some games before and after the national league.

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