Three players from North Otago are set to play key roles in the Otago Spirit rugby team this season.
Energetic flanker Morgan Henderson, classy midfielder Georgina McCullough and talented outside back Cheyenne Cunningham were this week named in the Spirit squad to compete in the Championship section of the Farah Palmer Cup.
All three have experience at provincial level and will push hard for starting positions.
North Otago coach Mark Wilson was delighted to see the trio named in the Spirit.
He said Henderson, a finalist in the New Zealand women’s provincial player of the year award in 2017, was on an exciting upward path.
“Morgan’s ability speaks for itself. She is always looking at bettering herself, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how she progresses in the Spirit.”
McCullough, who played for the Spirit while representing the Otago University club before moving to North Otago, was a “100% effort” player, Wilson said.
“We are lucky to have her. She is an incredibly solid footballer who never makes mistakes.”
Cunningham has long been on the radar as a rising talent and there is a feeling she is ready for a breakthrough at the top level.
“Cheyenne is just an excitement machine, really,” Wilson said.
“When everything comes together for her and she gets in the right mindset, she’s as good as anyone out there. In the Spirit environment, I think you’ll see her excel and continue her outstanding form.”
Wilson said the selection of three North Otago players was rewarding for the province.
“From a North Otago women’s rugby point of view, it shows that everything is achievable.
“We just need to be more consistent with what we’re doing. If people want to take the opportunity of playing at a higher level, it’s there for them.”
North Otago’s female playing stocks should be boosted in the coming years as players from the under-18 and under-15 teams doing well in the Dunedin schoolgirls competition filter through the ranks.