The Otago ITM Cup squad has been announced today with five new players joining the current group of 21 contracted players. The squad has a mix of youth and experience, with New Zealand Secondary Schools player Michael Collins and New Zealand Under 20’s squad member, Hugh Blake, joining the team along with the experienced Ellison brothers – Tamati and Jacob.
Current squad members, Buxton Popoalli and TJ Ioane, have also extended their current contract until the end of the 2014 season.
Collins, a rising rugby star, has signed for Otago for three years and will take his place in the squad of 26 contracted players when pre-season training starts in December.
Collins, who was Captain of the Otago Boys High School first XV this year, and at 18 years of age, is the youngest player named in the squad which will be coached by Tony Brown and Phil Young.
Otago Rugby Union Chairman, Wayne Graham, commented that building on the depth of the 2011 squad was important for next season and having a balance of youth and experience in the side was critical to success.
‘It’s great to have been able to sign a player like Michael for 2012 as we need to ensure that young talented players remain in the province, which will allow us to build depth within the team’ commented Graham.
‘It’s also helpful to retain the bulk of the 2011 squad, and being able to add the valuable experience of the Ellison brothers is a real coup for the union’ added Graham
The 2012 ITM Cup draw will be confirmed early next month.
2012 Otago ITM Cup Squad
Forwards: Halani Aulika, Jacob Ellison, Eben Joubert, James McGougan, Liam Coltman, Tom Donnelly, Daniel Ramsay, Rob Verbakel, Hugh Blake, Adam Hill, Regan Tamihere, TJ Ioane, Gareth Evans, Paul Grant & Adam Thomson.
Ben Atiga, Michael Collins, Glenn Dickson, Tamati Ellison, Matt Faddes, Tony Fenner, Sam Giddens, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoalli, Ben Smith, Jayden Spence & Marshall Suckling.
Note: Currently three players are in contract negotiations.