Rugby: Colours different, but Devcich still eager to have a go

North Harbour sevens player Luke Devcich in Queenstown yesterday. The former Otago 15s...
North Harbour sevens player Luke Devcich in Queenstown yesterday. The former Otago 15s representative has returned to his home province to play in the national sevens this weekend. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Otago is where he has played most of his professional rugby, but for this national sevens tournament ex-Otago NPC player Luke Devcich is showing up wearing the maroon and white North Harbour strip.

The former St Kevin's College First XV player went through Otago age groups playing for the under-19s, under-20s and finally reaching the goal of making the Otago NPC squad in 2006.

That year the provincial side made the semifinals, a position it has not found itself in since.

Devcich then left for Europe where he had a two-year stint in Italy's NPC equivalent competition for the Unione Capitolina Rugby Club in year's 2007 and 2008.

Rugby caught up on the then 24-year-old and he took a two-year break from the game before finally returning to play for Auckland club team Marist last year.

The utility back has had plenty of time under the Otago rugby umbrella, but said from what he had seen so far, the two provinces did not differ all that much.

"It's much the same, really. They're all good guys and I'm just happy to be back into it."

This sevens tournament will be the first time the 26-year-old has played the sport for a provincial side.

He said the smaller version of the code differed "a fair bit" and he was looking forward to getting stuck in.

"I'm just looking forward to playing and to get on the field."

"The game is definitely different. There's different patterns and more room to have a go."

North Harbour is in a different pool to Otago, but Devcich seemed unfazed about coming up against his old province - " just hoping to play and have fun. Hope to win it."

Coach Geoff Alley echoed views of winning the tournament yesterday in Queenstown.

He said the two-time plate champions were in Queenstown to take gold from their nearest rival, Auckland.

"They'll be the team to beat.

"We've got a pretty slick team."

With six players from the national championship squad of past years and two Samoan Rugby World Cup players, the coach has every reason to be confident.

International Solomon King was ruled out due to injury by New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens earlier this week, which Alley said was "a major blow".

Alley said the North Island tournament played only five days ago was too close to the nationals and was the reason three of the top teams, North Harbour, Auckland and Northland, chose not to enter the northern event.

"A lot of teams go there, but five days before [the nationals] is a bit of a joke."

"I think a lot of them are bullied into it."

Come tomorrow, the head coach of nearly six years will be hoping the low-key preparation pays off.


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