Otago touch is marking its mark on the national field.
Seven players, two coaches and a manager represented New Zealand in a three-day test series against Australia at the weekend.
Rahul Das coached the Touch Black men’s team, which was managed by Toni Wall, Damian Burden was assistant coach of the mixed team, which featured players Rory van Vugt and Atawhai Hotene, and Dayna Turnbull captained the women’s team and played alongside McKayler Moore, Olivia O’Neill, Abbey Johnston and Phoebe Steele.
Teams were to have played a game against their Australian counterparts each day but heavy rain on day three forced the women’s match to be cancelled, after the New Zealand team had lost the first two games.
The men’s and mixed teams had won and lost a game each at that point, so the games on day three determined the winners of the series.
Burden said the weather was at its worst when the mixed team lined up to play, which was challenging.
Teams had to alter their game plans, as wet weather made it difficult to attack wide, he said.
In the end, the mixed team lost 7-4 and the men’s lost 5-4.
“Even though, for both teams, the handling and completion rates were still really good considering the horrible weather, they [Australia] just tactically played a good game in the final and got us late in that second half.”
The score was tied in the men’s game at the end of regulation time, so went to a “really exciting” drop-off.
Burden said the women’s team made great progress throughout at the series, especially as it was a young team – Turnbull (24) was the oldest.
“[Turnbull] was really impressive as a leader.”
It was awesome to see so many Otago players at the forefront of touch in New Zealand, especially as he had watched them move up the ranks from a young age, he said.
Burden has coached all of the players at various levels, so it was special to see them represent their country, he said.
Johnston was named most valuable player of the women’s team.