Kenatalei in Otago Line-Up
16 August, 2012
Otago has named a young backline for its warm-up game against Southland in Balclutha tomorrow.
Six of the seven backs who will start the game are aged 22 or under. Halfback Fumiaki Tanaka, the relative veteran of the backline, is 27.
Otago has been forced to go for youth after a turnover of players from last season, and its two Highlanders backs, Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith, in the All Black camp.
Japanese internationals, hooker Shota Horie, lock Justin Ives and halfback Tanaka have all made the starting XV.
Ives will fight out for one starting position at lock with Tom Franklin, with Rob Verbakel seemingly having bagged one locking spot.
After Lee Allan started on the openside flank for Otago in the loss to Tasman last Sunday, Gareth Evans has been picked to start in the No 7 jersey.
Evans played off the back of the scrum for Otago for much of last year but with Paul Grant filling that role this year, and also handed the captaincy, Evans may have to look elsewhere to get on the park.
Though his frame suggests he may not be best suited to openside flank, he has the talent and athletic ability to get across the ground.
The Otago loose forward trio will be up against it, facing an experienced Southland trio.
John Hardie has recovered from his broken toe which saw him miss the bulk of the Highlanders season. He will be backed up by Tim Boys on the blindside flank and the experienced Hoani Macdonald at No 8.
New Zealand Colt Marty McKenzie will direct Southland around the paddock from the first five-eighth position.
New Southland signing Nathan Hohaia is bracketed at second five-eighth with Matt Saunders.
Hohaia is struggling with a back injury and will be replaced by Saunders if he does not shrug off his back problem.
The match is a first-class fixture and will help former All Black and Southland halfback Jimmy Cowan (94 caps) in his pursuit of a century of caps for Southland. Cowan has been listed in the reserves and Fijian import Nemia Kenatale will start at halfback.
Otago left for a camp in the Catlins yesterday and will end the visit to South Otago with the game at the Balclutha showgrounds tomorrow.