Otago to play the All Blacks in August

Ben Herring
Ben Herring
August 10 cannot come around quickly enough for Otago.

The province will join Canterbury in the All Blacks’ Game of Three Halves in Christchurch.

It shapes as a big occasion for the team and a wonderful opportunity for Otago’s best players, coach Ben Herring said.

Last year, the Highlanders beat the British and Irish Lions 23-22 in a pulsating game at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Midfielder Tei Walden and lock Jackson Hemopo enhanced their reputations with impressive performances and Herring is hoping the Game of Three Halves will do the same for some of his charges.

‘‘It is the penultimate game before we get cracking with the season and we couldn’t ask for harder competition,’’ he said.

‘‘For the young up-and-coming guys it will be something to really drive towards. If you are going to compare yourself against another player, then why not do it against the best in the world?

‘‘It will really increase the competition within the camp because all the boys will be wanting to play that game just so they can gauge themselves against the best.

Roger Clark
Roger Clark
‘‘It is the perfect lead-up in that everyone will be pumping to get involved and putting their best foot forward to impress not only us but leave a mark on someone in their position in the All Blacks.

‘‘It only takes a couple of little moments for a selector to go, ‘Who is this fellow?’. If you can plant that seed in someone’s mind, it would be absolutely fantastic.’’

Otago opens its campaign against Wellington at Westpac Stadium on August 19.

Meanwhile, rugby fans in the deep South will get a taste of international rugby with the Highlanders confirmed to play against a French Barbarians side in Invercargill on June 22 - the day before the All Blacks-France test in Dunedin.

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said the franchise was looking forward to hosting the French Barbarians.

‘‘We weren’t initially able to schedule a game for Invercargill this season, so from our perspective the opportunity to play the French there is fantastic,’’ he said in a press release.

‘‘I am sure the Southland rugby public will embrace the chance to see international rugby in Invercargill again.’’

Invercargill was overlooked for a Super Rugby match this season, the Highlanders opting to take up an opportunity to play its home game against the Chiefs in Fiji on June 30.


 

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