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Herring names strong Otago squad

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Thursday, July 26, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Coach Ben Herring named his 29-strong squad back at the end of May.

There was a reason for that. After last season's campaign in which Otago were beaten in the Championship semifinals by Bay of Plenty, the message came through from the squad that they didn't like the side being named so close to the start of the Mitre 10 Cup.

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The late naming affected the start to the season so Herring took it on board in his first season as coach.

As a result, he's prepared six new caps for the campaign ahead while also having eight Super Rugby players to call on.

Herring, who played national provincial championship rugby for Southland and Wellington and Super Rugby for the Highlanders and Hurricanes, moved to England to play for Leicester from 2007-09. But he was forced out of playing the game due to concussion issues and took up coaching, initially with the Leicester club but later with Nottingham, Green Rockets in Japan and Canada in both XVs and Sevens.

All Blacks fullback Ben Smith has been named in the squad but is expected to be unavailable due to international commitments. But other Super Rugby players are Matt Faddes, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, James Lentjes, Josh Dickson, Aki Seiuli and Liam Coltman.

Also in the squad is All Blacks Sevens player Vilimoni Koroi, who was also a member of the New Zealand Under-20s side this year.
The newcomers are: first five-eighths Finn Strawbridge, loose forward Dylan Nel, tight-loose utilities Sione Misiloi and Joketani Koroi, lock Josh Larsen and prop Tom Hill.

Strawbridge, a Canterbury product, played club rugby in Dunedin for Green Island and is regarded as the back-up to Josh Ioane.

Durban-born Nel has already had a taste of rugby at a higher level having been part of the Crusaders team at the Brisbane 10s this year.

Larsen moved south from Northland in the quest for game time. Hill played for Tasman last season but played his club rugby in Dunedin for Taieri this year.

Missing from the side that played last year are: Fletcher Smith, who has moved to Waikato, Tei Walden who has returned to his home base in Taranaki, Hayden Parker who is playing in Japan, Jonathan Ruru who has decided to stay in Auckland where he has a Blues contract, Dillon Hunt, who has returned to his home base in North Harbour, Blair Tweed who is playing in Japan, Adam Knight who is playing in France and Josh Furno who has moved to Western Australia.

Division: Championship
Last year: Losing semifinalist

The squad is: Vilimoni Koroi, Ben Smith, Jona Nareki, Mitch Scott, Josh Timu, Matt Faddes, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Finn Strawbridge, Josh Ioane, Kurt Hammer, Josh Renton, Dylan Nel, Naulia Dawai, James Lentjes, Slade McDowall, Sione Misiloi, Josh Dickson, Tom Rowe, Joketani Koroi, Josh Larsen, Hisa Sasagi, Aki Seiuli, Tom Hill, Donald Brighouse, Jonah Aiona, Sam Anderson-Heather, Liam Coltman, Sekonaia Pole.