Three teams calling on highly rated halfback

Promising halfback Noah Hotham will play for the Highlanders under-20 squad, will play for Alhambra-Union, and will then turn out in Tasman colours.

Welcome to the new rugby landscape.

Hotham is a highly rated halfback who led Hamilton Boys’ High School to a Super Eight title in the North Island last year.

He was intent on heading to the University of Otago, following in the footsteps of his siblings.

Otago Rugby Football Union player development manager Paul Galland said the union had met Hotham last year but had decided against offering him a player contract.

Galland said the union already had some locally produced halfbacks they wanted to back so decided against signing Hotham.

He was then picked up by Tasman and signed a contract with the union.

He would be able to play in the Tasman under-19 side and other Tasman sides if selected. He was selected for the New Zealand Schools side last year which was a paper team and did not play any games.

His older brother Legin has just finished studying dentistry at the University of Otago and had returned to Hamilton.

Hotham, who had spent some time training with the Highlanders earlier this season, was given permission by Tasman to play in the Dunedin club competition.

Galland said there was change coming into the age-group system at a national level with the new under-20 national competition taking place this year.

The under-20 competition would have a side from each of the five Super Rugby franchises along with a Barbarians side and would kick off in Taupo on Sunday.

There would be no national under-19 tournament but it was hoped to have a regional under-19 tournament, Galland said.

That would involve the four South Island national provincial championship sides coming together and play a series of games in late August.

Galland said the national union was concentrating on getting players out on the field in age-group competitions and playing the game. Rules around eligibility were becoming fluid and were likely to continue to be so for a while.

Otago had a couple of promising halfbacks in Nathan Hastie and James Arscott.

Arscott has played for Otago last year and was a chance to play for New Zealand Under-20 last year before the team was canned because of Covid-19.

Hastie had played premier club rugby for Harbour last year in his first season out of school.

He joins Hotham in the Highlanders under-20 squad.


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