Allan’s versatility in another league

Otago Rugby League chairman Ricki Allan is keen to help the sport continue moving in the right...
Otago Rugby League chairman Ricki Allan is keen to help the sport continue moving in the right direction. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Ricki Allan — prop, reporter, chairman of the board.

There is very little the 28-year-old teacher will not do for the game of rugby league.

And he is just as adept at hitting the ball up as he is at crafting the match report.

For a while there, the Otago University and Otago Whalers front rower was writing the club match report for the Otago Daily Times each week.

He stopped only when he went overseas at the end of 2018. He popped up in Wigan and had a season there.

Then he went to France and played in Toulon for about three months until his visa ran out.

Allan had just started a second season in Toulon when Covid-19 began strengthening its grip, so he returned home to New Zealand.

Otago Rugby League was looking for a new chairman to replace the outgoing Katherine Black and Allan decided to make himself available.

"I wasn’t too sure who else was going to put their hand up ... but I was keen to get back into it once I got back," Allan said.

"Otago has been building really well for a few years so I wanted to make sure whoever did take it on was keen to keep that going.

"I wanted to make sure we keep building rather than going backwards as has sort of happened around the country."

Allan, who is a relieving teacher at Bayfield High School, started playing senior club rugby league in the city in 2014 for Otago University. He made his Otago Whalers debut the same year.

The club season gets under way today and there is a new team in the competition.

North Otago has joined the tournament and will play the defending champion Kia Toa Tigers at Bayfield Park at 2.45pm.

Allan’s beloved Otago University plays South Pacific Raiders in the earlier game.

A fifth team may still join the tournament.

Auckland club Ponsonby was committed to joining the competition this season. It had even fundraised to cover the cost of travel and playing in Dunedin.

But the re-emergence of Covid-19 put those plans on the backburner.

"They were looking for some competitive rugby league outside of Auckland and I think our season window lined up best for them."

The club came down and played a pre-season game against the Tigers and really enjoyed the experience.

"They were going to be joining us 100% but now we are still working through that and it is looking a little bit less likely. If they don’t join us it will be a four-team competition.

"I don’t imagine it would be a cheap venture but they were as keen as on it. They are still pretty desperate to try and make it happen."

The club final is on October 10.

The Otago Whalers will contest the South Island Championships in Timaru at Labour Weekend. The Southland Rams, West Coast Chargers, the Aoraki Eels and possibly a team from Tasman are expected to contest the championships.

The winner of the South Island tournament will play the winner of the North Island competition the following week.

 

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