Two men who have spent years as rivals on the rugby field have joined forces.
Aron Einarsson and Ben Morris, who have played plenty of club matches against each other in Christchurch and Dunedin, will link up as North Otago’s loan players for the 2021 Heartland season.
The locks, who both attended Lincoln University and now live in Dunedin, were rapt to be included in the Old Golds squad.
Morris said it was an exciting opportunity for the pair to finally play together, and he was looking forward to locking down with Einarsson.
Having previously played for Canterbury and Otago, he had never given much thought to playing at a Heartland level until he got the call from North Otago coach Jason Forrest.
“It’s something that I suppose doesn’t come up all the time. It’s a good opportunity to meet some new people, and have a good time playing rugby as well – it’s something that you’d be silly to turn down.”
Originally from Cheviot, Morris won two colts and two division one championships with Lincoln University, before shifting to Dunedin.
He captained Taieri Rugby Club to win the Dunedin club rugby championship two weeks ago. It was a “pretty special” moment, after sitting out last season with a broken leg, he said.
Einarsson, originally from Hawke’s Bay, said the call up to North Otago came “out of the blue”.
“I definitely couldn’t say no to that. I was pretty excited to be honest,” Einarsson said.
He was no stranger to playing at a Heartland level, previously playing for Mid Canterbury. However, the Old Golds set up had already been more enjoyable, he said.
“It’s been awesome. Everyone’s been very welcoming, the coaching staff have been great, good trainings, and the guys I’ve met through the team so far have been pretty cool.”
He set one main goal for the season – hold on to the Meads Cup.
“That’s definitely the big one.”
Forrest said both players were “good buggers”, who ticked the boxes and fitted in to the team well.
They provided experience at lock, and had strong aerial skill sets. It would help add to the up-and-coming locks in the squad.
“We needed some guys that had a bit of time under their belt,” Forrest said.
“Ben will play a big part of our leadership group and Aron’s had Heartland experience, so he knows what it’s about.”
The team held a training camp in Otematata at the weekend. The season will get under way against South Canterbury at Whitestone Contracting Stadium next Saturday.