Southern players head to Singapore

Dylan Nel is the latest player speculated to be heading to Singapore to play in Rapid Rugby.
Dylan Nel is the latest player speculated to be heading to Singapore to play in Rapid Rugby.
Half a dozen players from the South have headed off to play in Singapore but details appear light on the competition they are playing in.

Otago No8 Dylan Nel is believed to also be considering heading to the Lion City to play for the Asia Pacific Dragons in the Global Rapid Rugby competition.

The competition involves eight teams from Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Western Force and is the brainchild of mining billionaire Andrew Forrest.

Forrest was incensed when the Western Force was dumped out of the Super Rugby competition in 2017, and last year organised a series of games for the Force against various teams.

That has grown into the Rapid Rugby competition which would involve eight teams. The competition is due to kick off next month and pre-season matches are set to be played this month.

The competition has teams from Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Samoa, Fiji and an unknown country, believed to be the United States.

The Dragons are coached by former Otago Boys' High School first XV coach Ryan Martin.

Martin was also part of the Otago coaching setup this year, coaching the attack.

There had been speculation Martin was roaming far and wide in the South to get players to come and play for the side, which was causing concern for clubs.

Halfbacks Kurt Hammer and Melani Matavao have signed to play for the Dragons and headed off last week. They will be joined by loose forward/lock Joketani Koroi and hooker Sekonaia Pole, who both play for the Harbour club. Hammer, Koroi and Pole are signed with Otago.

Also playing in Singapore is loose forward Naulia Dawai, who played for Otago in last year's Mitre 10 Cup. He was looking for an overseas deal and after being passed over by Super Rugby teams was happy to pick up an offer from the Singapore-based outfit.

Young Dunedin back Zac Harrison-Jones has signed with the Dragons. The Marlborough Boys' College old boy has yet to play for Otago but has impressed in club play and has a turn of speed.

Nel has been training with the Highlanders but it is understood he is working through a contract and there is a strong chance he may be off to Singapore. Nel is South African and after playing for a few years in Canterbury he came south last year to play for Otago during the Mitre 10 Cup. He is a robust, direct player and a player of promise. But he is a professional player and is chasing a deal. He has linked with the Green Island club for this season.

Otago winger Mitchell Scott was linked with a move to the Dragons and his future is up in the air.

The competition is scheduled to kick off next month but details are sparse. No teams are listed, nor are kick-off times and broadcasting details. The Otago Daily Times attempted to contact the Global Rapid Rugby organisers but received no reply.

It will be played under different rules limiting the ability to kick the ball out on the full and with playing time of just 70 minutes.

The competition was expected to finish in June so players could come back and play for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.

 

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