Good send-off for Old Golds at fundraising dinner

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The North Otago Rugby Pacific Tour Fundraising dinner proved a success at the Loan & Merc on Wednesday evening, with guest speaker Stu Wilson wishing the team well ahead of their journey overseas.

The ex-All Black said he enjoyed the evening and was pleased to see the amount of local support on show.

“It was a good evening. It was good for everyone involved, for the team and the locals, there was a lot of local support which is good to see,” he said.

Wilson believes the tour will put the Old Golds in good stead for their upcoming Heartland Campaign.

“They’ve (North Otago) always been up there over the last 10 years. They’ve got a great track record,” he said.

“I think it’s a great initiative. I think going at the beginning of the season is the way to go.

“I think they went to Japan a few years ago at the end of the season but going before will be great. It’ll be tough competition in Fiji and Tonga. They’ll come back with some bumps and bruises and be ready. What a way to start the season.”

The former Wellington wing said he would be keeping a close eye on the Heartland season and believed North Otago would perform well.

North Otago RugbyCEO Colin Jackson said he was pleased with the support for the team and the tour.

“The Pacific Tour Fundraising Dinner was a huge success and superbly supported by our rugby community,” he said.

“The goodwill and generosity from our sponsors and supporters has been overwhelming. Highlight of the night was former All Black winger, Stu Wilson, who entertained the guests with hilarious tales from  his rugby playing days”.

The squad consists of five players from both Maheno and Excelsior, six from Old Boys and two each from Kurow, Valley and Athletic Marist, with University A’s first five-eighth Stephen Fenemor completing the group.

The players will leave tomorrow for two fixtures in Fiji against Nadroga and Pacific Islands University, before flying to Tonga, where they will take on a Tonga XV in Nukualofa. They return on August 13.

By JAMES FORD

PHOTO: JAMES FORD – Former All Black Stu Wilson believes the Pacific tour will prepare the team well for the Heartland season which begins on August 23.