Position in 2019
The Spirit squad features nine new caps, including young halfback Maia Joseph, who is the daughter of former All Black and Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph.
The 18 year-old out of the University club and Columba College, is a first year athlete at the Otago Academy of Sport and also excels in touch rugby. Rugby runs in the blood for a number of the Spirit squad, with sisters Paige and Jamie Church lining up together. Keely Hill’s brother Josh plays for Otago’s Mitre 10 Cup side, while Kilisitina Moata’ane’s brother-in-law, Mika Mafi also plays for the Mitre 10 Cup side.
Moata’ane, who made her Black Ferns debut last year, returns in the midfield for the Spirit, while Black Ferns Development first five-eighth Rosie Kelly is eyeing up another strong season, having topped the point-scoring charts last year.
Otago will be without the services of some experienced players however, with Sheree Hume, Kate Smith, Jess Kendall, Georgia Mason and Greer Muir all departing the squad. But they do welcome back loose forward Zoe Whatarau, who missed last season through injury.
Zoe Whatarau (returns from injury), Maia Joseph (debut), France Bloomfield (debut), Lucy Cahil (debut), Jamie Church (debut), Maddie Feaunati (debut), Sarah Graham (debut), Keely Hill (debut), Leah Miles (debut), Libby Napier (debut)
Sheree Hume, Kate Smith, Jess Kendall, Greer Muir, George Mason
Player to watch: Rosie Kelly
Otago’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, Rosie Kelly will look to stamp her mark on the competition again this season, as she pushes for higher honours ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The 20 year-old, out of Christchurch Girls’ High School, scored 107 points in the competition last year, earning a call up to the Black Ferns Development side that toured to Fiji in November. Kelly has spent some time in Black Ferns training camps and that experience will take her form to another level for the Spirit in 2020.
Otago Spirit squad
France Bloomfield, Meg Breen, Rosie Buchanan-Brown, Lucy Cahill, Paige Church, Jamie Church, Cheyenne Cunningham, Ellis Doyle, Amy Du Plessis, Maddie Feaunati, Teilah Ferguson, Julia Gorinski, Sarah Graham, Morgan Henderson, Keely Hill, Tegan Hollows, Trisha Hopcroft, Maia Joseph, Rosie Kelly, Leah Miles, Gemma Millar, Kilisitina Moata’ane, Libby Napier, Isla Pringle, Bree Thomas, Rebekah Wairau, Hinemoa Watene, Kiana Wereta, Zoe Whatarau
Coaches: Scott Manson (Head coach), Aimee Sutorius (Assistant coach), Jamie Angus (Assistant coach)
Otago Spirit draw
Otago v Hawke’s Bay
Sunday 13 September
12.30pm Forsyth Barr Stadium
Canterbury v Otago
Saturday 19 September
2.05pm Orangetheory Stadium
Tasman v Otago
Saturday 26 September
11.35am Trafalgar Park
Otago v Manawatu
Sunday 4 October
2.05pm Forsyth Barr Stadium
Saturday 10 October