Otago touch reps to fore nationally


A record number of Otago touch representatives donned the silver fern last week in a test series against Australia.
Fourteen players, three coaches and a tour manager were part of the New Zealand contingent that competed in the Youth Trans-Tasman Test Series in Auckland.
Abbey Johnston, Jess Faulks and McKayler Moore were in the under-18 women’s team, Josh Duff and Kane Johnston played for the under-18 men’s team which was coached by Rahul Das, and James Te Pairi Simpson and Olivia O’Neill represented the under-18 mixed team coached by Damian Burden.
Dayna Turnbull coached Kiana Pelasio and Celine Timoko in the under-20 women’s team, Taylor Haugh and Rory van Vugt were in the under-20 men’s team and Atawhai Hotene, Mikayla Latta and Jordan McEntee played in the under-20 mixed team.
Toni Wall was the New Zealand tour manager.
Australia won the series overall while New Zealand managed to get two wins – the under-20 men’s team won its first game by two tries and the under-18 women’s team won its second in a drop-off.
McEntee (19) enjoyed the test series, particularly scoring his first try.
“I wish I could do it again.”
He said the Australian teams were quick and “really well trained”.
Although his team had a three-day training camp before the test series, it was difficult to play in a new team, he said.
He said it was good to have the support of the Otago players and coaches, as well as friends and family who were in Auckland to watch the series.
Otago Touch Association development officer Grant Milne said the Otago contingent was the largest that had been involved in a test series.
Otago was also the second-most represented province at the tournament, behind Auckland.
“Our players played amazing. We had a dominant player in each of the six teams.”