Otago Spirit squad 'very young and exciting'

Scott Manson
Scott Manson
Otago Spirit coach Scott Manson had a lot of forms to fill out before a good chunk of his squad could lace up their boots.

The rookie coach named his squad on Monday night and it featured plenty of new names and ''I think nine players'' under the age of 19 on January 1st.

That created ''quite a bit of paper work'', asplayers under 19 needed clearance to play in the Farah Palmer Cup, Manson said.

''It is a very young and exciting squad, that's for sure,'' he added.

He has a blank canvas ''in some ways'', but despite the youth of his team, Manson has high expectations.

The Spirit made it to the championship final last season but was beaten 7-5 by Bay of Plenty in the pouring rain at Blake Park in Mount Maunganui.

The goal is to get back into the final and get a better result.

''Realistically we should still be aiming to get to that final and try to take out the championship division.

''Just because we've got less experience does not mean to say that we should be a lesser team. I think we've got some really exciting players.

''The challenge to them is to prove they are better players than the ones they're replacing from last year.''

Manson said he was fortunate to be able to pick players from Southland, as Otago's southern neighbour does not have a team in the tournament.

The squad includes three Southlanders - Amy Rule, Jess Dermody and Cass Englar.

Dermody is a talented netballer who plays for South in the Beko League. She will bring some much-needed height to the lineout.

Rule is an impressive young prop who is still at school but has stood out for her ball carrying ability.

Englar is a speedy winger. The 22-year-old has moved down from Christchurch and is expected to press for a starting spot on the wing. She is also a very good sevens player and has been part of the New Zealand development squad.

University halfback Rosie Buchanan-Brown is one of the more exciting new additions. She is a physical player with a good skill set who grew up playing against the boys on the side of the scrum.

Manson said there was still a good core of experienced players in the squad who he would look to for leadership on the field.

Sheree Hume can play most positions in the backline and her combination with midfielders Greer Muir and Kilistina Moata'ane shapes as an area of strength for the Spirit.

Former Black Fern Rebecca Todd is back from overseas and will join Georgia Mason in what should be a formidable loose forward unit.

Otago's only pre-season game is a ''game of three halves'' against Canterbury and Tasman in Christchurch on August 18.

Its opening game of the season is against North Harbour in Dunedin on September 1.

 

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