Otago team of overseas players not possibility

Richard Kinley
Richard Kinley
Otago fielding a team made up of players from overseas competitions will simply not happen, a meeting was told last night.

But what competition Otago will play in as soon as next year is far from clear as the future of the Mitre 10 Cup comes under a national microscope.

The Otago Rugby Football Union held its annual meeting in Mosgiel last night and the issue of players heading overseas and then coming back to play for Otago came under the spotlight.

Players have left to play for the Asia Pacific Dragons in Singapore while others have joined the Sunwolves in Japan.

Concerns have been raised by clubs that players would not be playing club rugby but simply coming back to play for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Taieri delegate Mike Kerr said a real selling point to get players to come from outside the province and play for the clubs was the opportunity to play well in club rugby and then get into the Otago team.

But he wondered as the connection with overseas competitions grew whether too many Otago players would end up playing overseas in places such as Singapore, not play any club rugby and then come back and play for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.

''Seeing a South African playing in Singapore and coming back and playing for Otago - how is that going to look for us?'' he asked.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said of a suggestion Otago would field 15 to 20 players from overseas competitions that it would ''never happen.''

He said the mission statement for the union was to grow the game and foster talent so bringing back players from an overseas competition was directly against that policy.

Kinley said players came and went over the years but at the most in the seven years he had been involved it was six or seven players the union had brought in from overseas to fill a hole.

Otago coach Ben Herring spoke at the meeting and said the opportunities overseas were great for players and coaches.

Winger Mitchell Scott was the latest player to join the Dragons who are coached by former Otago Boys' High School First XV coach Ryan Martin.

He will be joined by former Otago assistant coach Lee Allan.

Herring said it was a good step up for the player and ''to hold him back was not right.''

He appreciated the predicament clubs were in but players had to go for the opportunities.

Otago was, in fact, lucky it was at the cutting edge with a new outfit such as the Dragons and had built strong links.

He said the Singaporean sevens squad was coming to train in Dunedin in the coming months because of the impression Martin and others had made.

There had been a suggestion rules be put - or a certain percentage - on how many players had to come from the local club competition to play for Otago.

Board chairman Keith Cooper said the union should not get into setting percentages and numbers as it was too rigid. Instead, it should have some guiding principles that the board can set out.

Cooper said a project had started on a national level on how the Mitre 10 Cup would look in the future. That work may even involve changes to next year's competition but plenty of work still had to be done.


I hate to say it but rugby is dying in NZ. People aren't going to games the same, people aren't watching on TV the same and people aren't playing the same. There is too much rugby, watching is too expensive now for most, test matches are just corporate affairs. Greed has killed the golden goose. At least I have fond memories of my time on the bank at the Brook.

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