Strong squads for tri-series game

Bob Perriam
Bob Perriam
Wanaka is the venue for Otago Country's first home game of its tri-series defence.

The side hosts Southland Country tomorrow in a game which always brings excitement and intensity.

Both sides played last weekend with differing results.

Otago Country was soundly beaten 61-19 by the North Otago Heartland side in Kurow while Southland Country had a 27-7 win over Southland under-19.

The North Otago game was a sharp learning curve for Otago Country. It played some outstanding rugby in patches but was beaten by sheer brute strength and North Otago's aggressive attitude.

The country side managed to blood plenty of new players who now know the standard of play required.

Both sides have named strong squads for the game.

Otago Country has gone with a very mobile forward pack smattered with experience.

Hooker Craig Stanway returns to the side, while lock Pete O'Malley and flanker Max Pennell have been rewarded for their good efforts last week.

Rhys Harrold starts at first five-eighth alongside the solid midfield of Angus Gibb and Hayden Todd.

Southland Country has named a similar line up to last week.

No8 Scott McKee, a former Stags player, is a standout player for the side.

Halfback Willie Short played five games for Otago Country in 2016 and will be keen to show his improvement.

Otago Country chairman Bob Perriam instilled the importance of the tri-series trophy during a training session this week.

Otago Country is the holder of the trophy after defeating Southland Country and Canterbury Country last season.

Perriam is excited with this crop of players and has extreme confidence in the management team.

He is also excited about the growth of country rugby in the Otago region.

Only three weeks ago in Wanaka there were more than 4000 spectators at the Central Otago club final which shows the support country rugby has in the area, he said.

There are also early-stage proposals for a second-tier competition in Central Otago and future Otago Country tours to signal that country rugby is still strong in the province.

Perriam wants all supporters of the game to head to Wanaka and show how popular country rugby is in the region.

 - Francis Parker

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