Playing for clubs not an issue

Richard Kinley.
Richard Kinley.
The Otago Rugby Football Union does not have an issue with Highlanders players playing for club teams this weekend despite Otago players having been pulled from the competition.

The union confirmed yesterday the Highlanders want players who are not part of the travelling squad to Sydney this week to turn out for clubs.

The Highlanders want the players to stay match fit to be available to cover injuries next week if the franchise beats the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday night.

Seven players from the Highlanders are scheduled to play. It could have been more but University, which has six Highlanders on its books, has the bye.

ORFU general manager Richard Kinley said the Otago-contracted players were fully into preparation for the Mitre 10 Cup and all clubs had agreed to have them withdraw from the competition on July 15. The Otago players had games coming up for their pre-season.

The Highlanders were different as they were at the pinnacle of their season and needed to have regular match play, Kinley said.

All seven Highlanders playing for their clubs on Saturday had regularly played for them over the season.

The club competition's final regular-season round is on Saturday. It is a big one for Southern and Kaikorai, which are both on 46 points with one spot left in the top four.

Kaikorai will welcome the inclusion of halfback Josh Renton while Southern has lock Pari Pari Parkinson. Kaikorai takes on Harbour which has midfield back Sio Tomkinson available.

Prop Guy Millar will line up for Taieri against Zingari-Richmond which will have winger Tevita Nabura and hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate. Southern plays Alhambra-Union which has no Highlanders available.

Kinley said all supporters of the game in the South would be keen to help out the Highlanders as it strived to go as far as possible in the playoffs.

Kinley said no discussion had taken place with the Highlanders about playing next week in the club semifinals.

The further the Highlanders went, the longer players would be on leave after the season and not be immediately available for the Otago season.

Meanwhile, Harbour is believed to be struggling for numbers for its game on Saturday.

Injuries and Otago commitments have left the side with a lack of front rowers and it may make a decision in the next two days whether it will front.

 

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