Kelly to start at No10, Hopcroft on the wing

Trisha Hopcroft, of Otago Spirit, fends off Waikohika Flesher, of Counties-Manukau, during a...
Trisha Hopcroft (left) will start on the wing against Tasman tomorrow. Photo: Getty Images
The Otago Spirit will have some fresh faces in key positions for its match against Tasman in Oamaru tomorrow.

University first five-eighth Rosie Kelly will get her opportunity in the No10 jersey.

She replaces Hannah Stolba, who drops to the bench after starting the first two games of the season.

Regular fullback Sheree Hume brought up her 50th game in the 40-7 win against Northland in Whangarei last weekend.

But she is unavailable this weekend. She is competing in a crossfit event in Australia.

In her absence, exciting winger Trisha Hopcroft earns her first start of the campaign. She will play on the right wing and Cheyenne Cunningham will move to fullback.

Back-up fullback Meg Breen comes on to the bench. The rest of the side is unchanged.

Spirit assistant coach Jamie Angus said the decision to make a change at pivot was about providing Kelly with an opportunity.

"It is about giving Rosie some time there and looking at combinations," Angus said.

Kelly has been jostling with Rosie Buchanan-Brown for a spot at halfback. But she is also very comfortable at first five-eighth. She has good pace and a clever kicking game.

She is not afraid to chip and chase or use the width of the field to get around an opponent.

But she has had two very good players ahead of her and has been starting from the bench.

Hopcroft has a lot of pace and skill and a background in touch rugby.

The Spirit has started the season with two comfortable victories, while Tasman beat Taranaki 36-22 in New Plymouth on Saturday but lost 22-10 to North Harbour in its opening match.

Angus said the match against Tasman "would be a step up compared with Northland and Taranaki".

Otago Spirit v Tasman 

Oamaru, tomorrow, 1pm
Otago: Cheyenne Cunningham, Trisha Hopcroft, Amy Du Plessis, Kilisitina Moata’ane, Kiana Wereta, Rosie Kelly,  Rosie Buchanan-Brown, Greer Muir, Morgan Henderson, Bree Thomas, Julia Gorinski, Kate Smith, Eilis Doyle, Tegan Hollows (captain), Isla Pringle. Reserves: Gemma Millar, Claudia Hobbs, Jess Kendall, Hannah Stolba, Jordyn Tereu, Teilah Ferguson, Meg Breen.

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