Todd back on familiar ground

Experienced Otago Spirit utility forward Rebecca Todd gives instructions during a training...
Experienced Otago Spirit utility forward Rebecca Todd gives instructions during a training session at Logan Park on Thursday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago loose forward-cum-hooker Rebecca Todd has returned to where it all began.

The 27-year-old picked up rugby during her second year at the University of Otago and was a natural.

She was selected in the Otago Spirit that year (2011) and played for the side for four seasons.

The pharmacist, who hails from Canterbury, moved north to Auckland in 2015 and has been playing her rugby in Christchurch for the past two years.

But Todd has returned to Dunedin for the season and, while there are a lot of new faces in the Spirit, the vibe is very similar.

"Canterbury obviously has a lot bigger competition and a lot more players," she said.

"The skill level is a lot higher there. But I think I just like playing for Otago because ...  the girls just give it their all and play with their heart. I like that side of it."

Todd has played most of her rugby as a loose forward and slotted in at No 8 for the Spirit’s opening game of the season - a 27 to 13 win against North Harbour in Dunedin.

But she switches places with Tegan Hollows this week and will play hooker for the match against Hawke’s Bay at Logan Park today.

It is a role she has become familiar with during the past two years.

"I actually really like it. You get to do the hard work in the ruck, which I enjoy."

The Spirit was happy enough with its opening effort.

"It was a good win but we have a lot of improvement to make as well, which is exciting to see how much we can improve over the season."

One area where the side will need to lift its intensity is at the breakdown. Otago was guilty of going into the rucks a little high and coach Scott Manson wants them to get their body positions right.

That means driving in lower and being more effective at the ruck.

It was Todd’s first game in quite a while. She spent five months overseas this year visiting Europe, Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines.

She returned to training just three weeks ago but got through 65 minutes before being replaced.

Todd made some good strong carries and plenty of tackles in an industrious performance. She gave herself a pass mark.

"It was good. I haven’t played much rugby this season so it was good to get back into it."

Hawke’s Bay upset Wellington 25-22 in Napier in their opening game.

"They had a very good game first up so it will definitely be a challenge.

"They are a good young team as well, and they’ve gathered a few crucial players in the nine and ten position this year."

The Bay will have a good tactical kicking game "so we will have to be on to that".

Other than that, Todd said the Bay would be an unknown quantity.

Farah Palmer Cup

Otago v Hawke’s Bay

Logan Park, today, 2,45pm

Otago: Sheree Hume, Kiana Wereta, Islay Fowler, Greer Muir, Cass Englar, Rosie Kelly, Trisha Hopcroft, Tegan Hollows, Georgia Mason, Morgan Henderson, Jess Kendall, Julia Gorinski, Eilis Doyle, Rebecca Todd, Isla Pringle. Reserves: Zoe Whatarau, Paige Church, Kate Smith, Rachel Scott, Rosie Buchanan-Brown,  Georgina McCulloch, Cheyenne Cunningham.

Hawke’s Bay: Shaylee Tipiwai, Felicity Powdrell, Natasha-Dean Greville, Amy Williams, Danielle Pomara-MacKay, Krysten Cottrell, Emma Jensen, Gemma Woods, Chanel Huddleston, Laurae Blake, Ripeka Hurae, Rawina Mason, Natalie Cotton, Jessie Taueki, Kara Huata. Reserves: Davina Atkin, Jennifer Simati, Hanna Brough, Niamh Jefferson, Kathleen Brown, Hailey Baker, Te Maari MacGregor.

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