Rugby: Giddens out to get Otago back in finals

Otago midfielder Sam Giddens relaxes after team training at the Queenstown Events Centre...
Otago midfielder Sam Giddens relaxes after team training at the Queenstown Events Centre yesterday.Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Sam Giddens has played three provincial seasons for Hawkes Bay, but he has never been more ready to get stuck in to rugby.

Giddens is one of the many new faces in the Otago squad training in Queenstown this week ahead of tomorrow night's pre-season game against Southland in Invercargill.

He played for Hawkes Bay from 2007 to 2009, then opted to head to Italy, where he played just out of Milan.

The midfield back said the standard of rugby he was playing there paralleled club rugby here, so he was desperate to get back.

"I was coming back to New Zealand and really wanted to play ITM as I loved it, and I wanted to try to get into a Super 15 side."

The 26-year-old told the Otago Daily Times yesterday that he wanted to help Otago, which finished bottom last year, follow the Highlanders' example.

Although he is a born and bred Bay boy, Giddens is determined to make Otago home for the next two seasons that he is contracted with the side.

"Phil [Mooney] gave me the opportunity and I thought Otago was a great start and I wanted to come down here and help Otago get back up to where they were.

"So far we've been playing really well. We've got a good culture already in the group and I think we can go all the way to the finals.

"But we are just taking one game at a time because the season is so jam-packed and anything can happen." Otago's first real challenge of the year will be tomorrow against traditional rival Southland. Giddens is looking forward to the task.

"Every game against Southland is a bit tough, but I'll be looking forward to it.

"Up front they'll be rugged, as they're Southland boys. They'll be physical in the backs as well, so it'll be a good curtainraiser for the Harbour game next week."

Otago's opening game in the condensed national championship is against North Harbour in Dunedin next Thursday night.

The last time Giddens played at Carisbrook, in a Hawkes Bay jersey, he contributed to an Otago loss, something he vows to put right this time around.

Giddens married wife Alish in February this year and the pair have a two-year-old son, Luca, who has not quite taken up his father's sporting code.

"He's certainly a sportsman for the future. Loves his soccer and kicking the ball around ... whatever pays my bills when I get older."

Alish and Luca will both stay in Hawkes Bay throughout the rugby season, so Giddens is hoping to get picked for Otago's game in Napier on July 23, so he can catch the free flight back home.

Outside of rugby, Giddens has done a glazing apprenticeship but lately his eye has turned ever so slightly towards a career in the police force.

His brother-in-law is at police college and his father is a dog handler, so blue is in Giddens' blood.

- Olivia Caldwell


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