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Centre Amy du Plessis injured her ankle at training and there were fears she had fractured it. But it is just a nasty sprain, although she will miss the weekend.
Her absence will be felt but she is replaced by former Black Ferns sevens player Lavina Gould.
Gould is based in Australia and is able to be pulled in as teams can turn out one overseas-based player.
Coach Aimee Sutorius had connections with Gould who was keen to come over. She would meet the team in Tauranga.
Sutorius said it would be a natural fit and Gould would have a playmaker role. She had just come off playing for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL women’s competition.
The side started slowly at the regional tournament but improved and won the third and fourth playoff.
Otago will take on host Bay of Plenty, Auckland and North Harbour so there are no easy games in pool play.
Teams were good across the board at a national tournament, Sutorius said, and Otago needed to start well and keep up the intensity.
Key figures are Black Ferns midfielder Kilisitina Moata’ane and Rosie Kelly, while Sam Hollows has been included in the squad.
Sutorius ended up playing in Timaru as a player pulled out late. She was reluctant to play but once she got out on the field she enjoyed the games. She was unlikely to repeat the experience this weekend.
The side has the disadvantage of not playing many warm-up games, unlike North Island sides.
The structure of the tournament was the 12 teams would be reduced to eight for quarterfinals so two of the third-placed teams in the three pools go through to the quarterfinals.
That means all teams need to play games right through to the end as points differential will come into play.
The Otago women’s team played against the men’s side in an informal practice on Thursday night at Logan Park in Dunedin to get ready for the tournament.
Otago: Kilisitina Moata’ane, Jess Kendall, Julia Gorinski, Rosie Kelly (co-captain), Hinemoa Watene (co-captain), Lavina Gould, Trisha Hopcroft, Rosie Buchanan-Brown, Sam Hollows, Jordyn Tereu, Cass Yee, Erica Blundell
v Bay of Plenty, 10.25am; v Auckland, 1.05pm; v North Harbour, 4.15pm