Canada tour looms

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North Otago jets off on an ambitious international tour on Saturday and coach Barry Stevens is adamant it will bear fruit.
Most Heartland Championship rugby teams have short bus trips to pre-season games, but the Old Golds are adding Canada to a recent tour history that also features Japan and the Pacific islands.
They have three games –¬†against the Canadian Barbarians (August 3), Prairie Wolf Pack Alberta (August 6) and British Columbia Lake Burnaby (August 10) –¬†before returning to prepare for the domestic campaign.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Stevens told the Oamaru Mail.
“It’s a great opportunity for our boys to get some experience overseas, and it will help continue to build our team environment, and blood some new players.
“It’s also about setting our game plan and how we want to play Heartland rugby.”
Newcomers to the squad include loan player Shae Tucker, a midfield back from the Otago University club, and two “state of origin” forwards, Jacob Coghlan (Alhambra-Union) and Sione Misiloi (Harbour), both old boys of St Kevin’s College.
There is also a new first five-eighth, Josh Casey, who has been a prolific scorer for the Taieri Eels in recent seasons and has overcome some injury problems.
Stevens has worked with the bulk of the squad, as well as players such as Soni Tongotongo and Oscar Pamment who were unavailable for the tour, on Monday nights for the last six weeks.
He was delighted at the skill and passion on display in the Citizens Shield final.
“I actually thought the standard of club rugby this year was a lot better than last year.
“The final was outstanding. It was great for club rugby in North Otago.”