Nel keen to notch up game time for Otago

Otago No8 Dylan Nel  training at Logan Park earlier this week. Photos: Peter McIntosh
Otago No8 Dylan Nel training at Logan Park earlier this week. Photos: Peter McIntosh
Meet Dylan Nel - Otago’s new No 8.

Nel (25) is set to make his first-class debut for Otago on Sunday as the side begins its Mitre 10 Cup campaign against Wellington in the capital.

Otago No8 Dylan Nel  training at Logan Park earlier this week.
Otago No8 Dylan Nel training at Logan Park earlier this week.
The South African No 8 has been on the fringes of the Crusaders and Canterbury squads but this year decided to throw his lot in with Otago.

Nel, a twin, can thank two former All Black No 8s for his journey to New Zealand.

He was playing for the Sharks under-21 squad and had a training session with Murray Mexted and the International Rugby Academy of New Zealand.

Scott Robertson was also in South Africa and he twisted Nel’s arm to get him to come to New Zealand.

"I was with the Sharks under-21s and I was playing Sharks and Vodacom Cup. I just wanted a change," Nel said.

"It was a big call. It was fairly impulsive but I just wanted to have a shot at it then. I was turning 22.

"I came down here in 2014, played for Sumner and following year [Canterbury] wider training group, next year got a cap, the last year got four or five caps with Canterbury. They offered me the same contract as last year but I needed more game time.

"Then Ben [Otago coach Ben Herring] phoned me and asked me about the opportunity down here. I did think about it and I spoke to [Canterbury coach] Joe Maddock about it. He said we have a full shelf of loose forwards.

"So it was a no-brainer and I’m keen to get some game time with Otago."

Nel is a hard-running abrasive forward who will not stand back. He impressed in the game of three halves last week in Christchurch and is looking forward to wearing the blue and gold.He said he preferred the New Zealand style of play.

"South Africa is more narrow-minded. Get the ball and carry hard. Here it is a lot more detailed - evasion, step, offload, test your skills a lot more. Your game grows."

Nel  was more of a water polo player at school. The school he attended -  Clifton School in Durban - was the South African school  champion but with little future in the sport, Nel decided rugby was the best option.

His parents would be visiting New Zealand for the first time next month and would see the Otago match against Canterbury.

Otago v Wellington

Wellington, Sunday, 2.05pm

Otago: Vilimoni Koroi, Josh Timu, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Finn Strawbridge, Josh Renton, Dylan Nel, Slade McDowall, Joketani Koroi, Josh Dickson, Tom Rowe, Hisa Sasagi, Sam Anderson-Heather (captain), Aki Seiuli.

Reserves: Sekonaia Pole, Tom Hill, Donald Brighouse, Sione Misiloi, Sam Dickson, Kurt Hammer, Matt Whaanga, Taylor Haugh

Wellington: Trent Renata, Tuitama Malo, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wes Goosen, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Sheridan Rangihuna, Thomas Waldrom (captain), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Vaea Fifita, Isaia Walker-Leawere, James Blackwell, Joel Hintz, James O’Reilly, Tolu Fahamokioa.

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Alexander Barendregt, Will Mangos, Greg Foe, Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Thomas Umaga-Jensen

Referee: Paul Williams (Taranaki)

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