Big appetite for rugby

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Keegan Anderson cramming a lot of rugby experiences into a short space of time.

The talented young North Otago lock has barely stopped for breath since he left St Kevin’s College last year.

He spent a season in England, came home to make his Citizens Shield debut for Athletic Marist before fracturing his jaw, returned in time for the end of the club season, and went on a whirlwind tour of the South Island with the New Zealand Marist Colts team.

That tour, featuring four games in under two weeks, finished with Anderson being named player of the tour, proof it is not only those in North Otago who believe he has a bright future.

“That was pretty unexpected. It was a really nice feeling,” Anderson said.

The Marist Colts had a 15-5 draw against the West Coast Heartland team, before beating a Hokitika combined team 76-0, Mid Canterbury Colts 56-0, and the Marist Albion Colts (Christchurch) 17-0.

It was the first time the Marist Colts had gone undefeated on a tour since 2009, Anderson said.

“We had players from 28 different clubs, and players from Argentina, Tonga and Fiji.

“It was awesome. Everyone was a bit awkward at first, but by the end of the tour, you couldn’t shut us up.

“We did school visits, and learned a haka. We even signed some autographs at schools, which was pretty weird. I’m not used to that.”

Anderson (19), who stands 1.96m and is working as a labourer for a building company, enjoyed spending the New Zealand summer with the Olney Rugby Football Club in England, as part of a North Otago rugby scholarship.

“It was a great experience. They looked after me really well and I learned heaps.”

He is looking forward to the coming years with a talented young Athletic Marist side, and is training with both the North Otago Heartland and Development squads.

If all that wasn’t enough, Anderson has also been selected as the only North Otago representative in the Heartland team to compete at the Jock Hobbs under-19 tournament in Taupo later this month.

It is a huge opportunity for him to not only impress on the field but also pick up some valuable coaching and rugby education.

Rugby is the big focus now but Anderson also has a solid background in another sport – he was part of St Kevin’s basketball teams that won South Island and New Zealand A titles.