Otago looks to Tucker for height

Otago has brought in lock Will Tucker from Canterbury as it looks to cover a lack of tall timber in the province.

Tucker, who joined the Highlanders squad earlier this year but did not play a game, and did not rejoin the squad after the Covid restrictions, stands more than 2m and has been part of the Canterbury system for the past few years.

Otago coach Tom Donnelly said Tucker (22) had been selected for the squad as there was a real lack of grunt in the locking area. Josh Dickson, who has played more than 50 games for Otago, is out for at least the first few games of the season with a broken leg.

Donnelly said lack of height had been a worry for the union over the past few seasons. South African Louis Conradie had played in the second row last year but had not returned while Joe Latta had moved to Japan.

Tucker will lock the scrum with Josh Hill in a trial at Waikouaiti tomorrow night.

Donnelly wanted to use the trial to get a better understanding about players and how they handle playing at a level up from club rugby.

The Probables will be coached by Donnelly and assistants Lee Allan and Ryan Martin. The Possibles will be coached by Jamie Joseph and Luke Herden.

Donnelly said the Probables had the more experienced group but it gave the players from the Possibles a chance to make an impression.

Super Rugby players were not available although they could start training on Thursday.

The Probables will be captained by openside flanker Slade McDowall and will have props Hisa Sasagi and Jonah Aoina starting the side with Taieri hooker Brady Robertson completing the front row.

Dunedin speedster Freedom Vahaakolo is on one wing with youngster Michael Manson on the other. Mitchell Scott is at fullback.

Prop Josh Hohneck will be on the bench along with Ricky Jackson while centre Aleki Morris-Lome will also be on the bench after a long injury spell.

First five-eighth Ben Miller will captain the Possibles.

Irish lock Jack Regan will get a run alongside Woody Kirkwood while midfielders Legin Hotham and Giovanni Leituala will try to show their wares.

Taylor Haugh gets a start at fullback while Sean Withy will start on the openside flank with Sean Jansen at No 8.

The match will start at 5.30pm tomorrow.

No spectators are allowed at the game.

Otago will name its Mitre 10 Cup squad on Thursday and spend a couple of days at a camp at Waikouaiti.


Otago trial

Waikouaiti, tomorrow, 5.30pm
Probables: Mitchell Scott, Michael Manson, Josh Timu, Matt Whaanga, Freedom Vahaakolo, Harrison Boyle, James Arscott, Pat McCurran, Slade McDowall (captain), Sam Fischli, Will Tucker, Josh Hill, Hisa Sasagi, Brady Robertson, Jonah Aoina.
Reserves: Ricky Jackson, Josh Hohneck, Grayson Knapp, Christian Leo-Willie, Nathan Hastie, Levi Emery, Jermaine Pepe, Shane Fikken, Aleki Morris-Lome.
Possibles: Taylor Haugh, Lasala Halaleva, Giovanni Leituala, Legin Hotham, Will Ngatai, Ben Miller (captain), Graham Urquhart, Sean Jansen, Sean Withy, Nick Henderson, Woody Kirkwood, Jack Regan, Sepa Vaka, Henry Bell, Abraham Pole.
Reserves: Harrison Press, Matt Kemp, Tevita Pole, Jermayne Maika, Jack McHugh, Kieran McClea, Brayden Laing, Keegan Christian-Goss.


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