Rugby league: Warriors interested in Otago u-19 trio

Otago is rugby country, right? Well, perhaps not.

Three young lads from the Otago under-19 team have been invited to attend the Warriors under-20 open trials in Wanganui this weekend.

The trio of Reece Te Pairi, Tyler Ford and Jordie Bungard all impressed during the South Island under-19 tournament in Christchurch last month.

Unfortunately, Te Pairi, who was named player of the tournament, has broken his jaw and will not be able to attend.

It is a shame for the versatile hooker. He is regarded as a fine distributor, he kicks goals, tackles like a demon and plays well above his weight.

He appears to have a bright future and was instrumental in Otago's surprisingly good tournament.

League barely has a toehold in the province and there is not a great deal of junior rugby league played in Otago.

Some of the young men in the team had not played the sport before.

But despite the challenges, Otago managed to beat Tasman, had a close loss to the West Coast and held Canterbury, the eventual winner, to a draw.

The tournament is a pathway for players. The Warriors viewed video footage of the games and liked what they saw in the Otago trio.

Tyler and Bungard are both South Otago lads and have a rugby background.

Bungard plays in the second row and has clocked up only five games of league.

Otago under-19 coach Dave Broughton said Bungard had made tremendous progress.

He had got the offload almost mastered and had wonderful ball-handling skills for a forward.

Ford plays standoff and, like Bungard, is new to the game, also with just five games under his belt.

But he had clicked on to what was required and had a natural eye for a gap. He stepped well, had good pace and his support play was a strong feature of his game, Broughton said.

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