Martin has blue and gold around him in Boston

Otago assistant coach Ryan Martin has arrived in Boston to coach the New England Free Jacks....
Otago assistant coach Ryan Martin has arrived in Boston to coach the New England Free Jacks. PHOTO: NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
Otago assistant coach Ryan Martin will have plenty of southern connections with his new side.

Martin arrived in Boston last weekend to take charge of the New England Free Jacks, which is a team based in Boston. It will play in the Major League Rugby competition, which is tentatively set for a start in late March.

Martin signed a three-year deal to coach the side last year and he will be assisted by James Willocks.

Willocks grew up in South Otago and studied physical education at the University of Otago. He took up an internship in strength and conditioning at Dartmouth College in the United States, where he eventually rose to be the head coach of the rugby side at the Ivy League institution.

Willocks has now been appointed the assistant coach to Martin at the Free Jacks.

He is the grandson of former All Black and Otago lock Charlie Willocks, who was a part of the Otago side in the 1940s which dominated provincial rugby in NZ.

Also on the staff at the Free Jacks is Tom Kindley, who has also worked for USA Rugby at the 2019 World Cup. He is also a graduate of University of Otago. He has recently risen to be the Free Jacks high performance manager, having previously worked in strength and conditioning and analysis.

On the playing side, Otago midfield back Aleki Morris-Lome (27) signed with the Free Jacks a few months ago and he will be joined by two other players who were in the Otago squad last year.

Dunedin first five-eighth Harrison Boyle, who has had limited opportunities with Otago but has impressed in club rugby has signed with the Free Jacks.

Boyle (20) is from Wellington and is studying law at the University of Otago but will put his studies on hold to play in the United States.

He also has the advantage of being born in the United States, which eliminated visa complications. He returned to NZ at a young age.

Prop Sef Fa’agase has also joined the team. Fa’agase (29) has been round the traps and was picked for the Highlanders for the 2019 season, though he only played three games.

He has also played for the Reds, Canterbury and the Panasonic Wild Knights. He turned out for the Kaikorai club last season and came into the Otago side at the back end of the season.

Lock Josh Larsen has also joined the Free Jacks. The Canadian international played just five games for the blue and golds in 2018 and was part of the Otago side which beat Waikato for the Ranfurly Shield at the end of the 2018 season.

The competition in the United States is set to begin in late March and Covid 19 protocols have been put in place to make sure the competition will go ahead.

Last year’s competition barely got going before it was canned because of the pandemic.

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