Experience feature of Spirit squad

Scott Manson
Scott Manson
This time last year Otago Spirit coach Scott Manson was busy filling out forms in the hope of getting clearance for a large swag of teenage players.

They are all a year older now and Manson has a much more experienced squad.

There are still half a dozen or so new players. But he can call on an experienced core of Sheree Hume, Greer Muir and Kilisitina Moata'ane.

Combative lock Syreeta Norris is back from an injury, and United States first five-eighth Hannah Stolba has returned for another stint.

Muir, though, had made the shift from the midfield to the back of the scrum. It will be interesting to she how she goes with No8 instead of No12 on her back.

She has made the shift to loose forward in the hope of cracking the Black Ferns.

''Off the top of my head I think we have six new players, so that is not too many for an Otago-based representative team,'' Manson said.

University prop Claudia Hobbs is making her debut in the squad.

''She goes hard into contact and I'm expecting big things from her. She is physically dominant which is what we need in our props.''

Her team-mates, fullback Meg Breen and loose forward Bree Thomas, have also made the squad.

Thomas is a wonderful link player, while Breen is fearless.

They both scored in University's 32-19 win against Pirates in the club final at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

Alhambra-Union midfielder Teilah Ferguson is naturally talented, a hard tackler and another name to look out for.

Taieri halfback Jordyn Tereu and outside back Hinemoa Watene are the other new names.

Watene has moved down from Auckland. She had a trial for the Black Ferns earlier this year and is a player with a big future.

''She is very hard-working, very diligent and a natural talent as well.''

There are some losses. Utility forward Rebecca Todd and Zoe Whatarau are missing from the team list.

But overall Manson is pleased with the squad he has been able to name.

Otago was hammered 57-5 by a very good Wellington side in the Championship final last season. The goal is to get back to the final this season and win promotion to the Premiership.

Otago's opening game is against Taranaki at Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 8.

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