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There are still five teams in contention for the mystical four with only Harbour looking guaranteed at this stage. It is on 43 points and 50 points guarantees you a spot in the four. Only five points separate GI, Taieri, Varsity and Kaik, so it goes down to the wire. Southern looks toast and the bottom three of Dunedin, AU and Zingers are a distant memory. Taieri dished up Kaik at the weekend to reinvigorate its season and it sits third while Kaik drops to fourth-equal with Varsity. Harbour crushed Southern to nearly book a spot in the four. GI was comfortable over Zingers to hold second. Varsity came away late over the Sharks to sit fourth but has a game in hand over its rivals so I think this whole shooting box is its to lose.
What do we want in an Otago coach?
I started this discussion last week and the reaction has been diverse to say the least! From "have you joined The Legalise Cannabis Party (and here was me thinking that was Labour and the Greens!)?" to "they've already picked the coaches" to "you're full of hot air" to "yes, we need a Dean Moeahu type of guy". So what do we need in a coach? We need a coach who cares about rugby in Otago from under-5s to NPC. We need a coach who understands how hard it is to run a rugby club prem side these days. We need a coach who is not worried about adding to their CV for the next gig but wants a career coaching Otago. We need a coach who sees that we need a clear pathway for aspiring promising club players to the next level which is playing for Otago. We need a coach who will work with clubs to attract the right players to town -players who are a fit for club and, if good enough, provincial rugby. In summation, I think Dean Moeahu ticks those boxes. More soon.
The big news this week is Hale T-Pole will be playing his 100th game for the Harbour Hawks this Saturday at the Guppyfish Pavilion. That's not that big, you say! It is if you played your first game in 1999 and 20 years later you finally make 100! So that's a long-term commitment for the perennial spring chicken that Hale is - the youngest-looking 40-year-old in town. He's played, he's coached, he's recruited, he's broken Abramovich's bank account, but most of all he's endured and it is a herculean effort to bring up 100 over 20 years. And to boot, he's still probably the best lineout forward in the comp. So if you can, get on down to Port tomorrow and celebrate the big man's 100th in style when the Hawks take on GI in a top-of-the-table clash. Good on ya, mate, and I'll talk to Finchy at Speight's about dropping off a goody bag for you.
Apparently, they've named a team?
The word is Otago may have named a squad for the year - can anyone confirm that? It contains no real surprises. Thirteen of the squad have played club rugby this year. There are eight Highlanders in the squad. There are four players from other Super squads. The rest are from somewhere in the world and the word is that it may not be finished yet as there are still four players to announce. I'll digest this news and comment further over the next few weeks.
Highlander players could have a big influence on results this weekend as there are nine sprinkled around various clubs tomorrow. Taieri and Varsity look to be the big winners with two each. Varsity has Matt Faddes and Dillion Hunt and Taieri has Elliot Dixon and Josh Iosefa-Scott. My world is crumbling as I was destroyed by Varsity prop Kilipati Lea last weekend so unbelievably I'm now losing to props by five points! Sculls and Finchy, you better get those wallets out because if the props win we have to shout them a night out at Speight's Ale House. I'm up against Dunedin's Teague McElroy this weekend, though, and I smell blood. Varsity (13+), resplendent with Highlanders, should crush AU at home to consolidate a spot in the four. The Hawks (13+), with Hale's big day, just win over GI which is without inspirational captain Dylan Nel. Up on the High Veldt, Kaik (12-) gets back on track with a win over Southern. Now, in a first for me, I am forced to take the Eels (12-) or I would have the same picks as McElroy, which won't work as we reach the climax of the comp. So don't read anything else into that!
PS It's Bender's last home game tonight without Bender actually playing - weird! But don't panic, I'm trying to get him on Rugby Chat next week.