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Parting the red sea . . . Valley centre Matthew Vocea tries to beat Kurow defenders Jason Angland (left) and Tim Larkins during the Citizens Shield game at Weston on Saturday. In the background is Kurow forward Cam Bennett. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

Some interesting newcomers feature in the first North Otago rugby squad of the season.

Coaches Nigel Walsh and Jason Forrest have named an initial squad of 32 for regular Wednesday-night fitness and ball work sessions during the club season.

The sessions are open to any player but the men named by the coaches are expected to attend every week.

Citizens Shield leaders Old Boys predictably have the biggest representation – 10 players – followed by Athletic Marist with six, Maheno and Excelsior five each, and Valley and Excelsior three each.

New front-rowers include Patelo Pouhila, who recently made his debut for Kurow and looks like an aggressive prop who can cover both sides, Kelepi Funaki, in his first year out of St Kevin’s College, and Timoci Bulitavu, who has arrived from Southland to play for Athletic Marist.

Aaron Martin is an English midfield back who has joined Excelsior, and Mike Lawrence is the English lock who is playing for Maheno.

Most of the other usual suspects are present and will start the long quest to get North Otago back into the Meads Cup.

* Waitaki Boys’ High School opened its Otago First XV campaign with a solid 36-12 win over Taieri College in Mosgiel on Saturday.

It was tough going for St Kevin’s College, beaten 106-5 by early favourite King’s High School in Dunedin.

The two Oamaru schools play at Milner Park this weekend, and Waitaki hosts an interschool fixture against King’s on Wednesday.