A Queenstown push for Otago and Highlanders rugby teams to spend more time in the resort finds favour with former All Blacks super coach Laurie Mains.
Otago Rugby Union deputy Mains says he can’t speak for the Highlanders but is investigating the feasibility of the Otago team coming more often – and playing one match a year at Frankton’s Events Centre from next season.
Queenstown-based Mains confirms he and his chairman Wayne Graham met resort business leaders last Saturday before the Highlanders’ Super 14 game at Frankton and “we’ve had very good ideas put in front of us”.
Mains goes on: “We recognise the pleasure players get out of time they spend in Queenstown.
“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that both Otago and Highlanders teams spend more time in the resort in future.
“Queenstown – because of the lifestyle – can in the future play a very significant role in Otago rugby. It makes an awful lot of sense to me, getting the Otago team to spend significantly more time there.”
Former Otago Union boss Russell Gray, whose Good Group hospitality company sponsored last weekend’s Super 14 fixture, goes further and says there’s no reason why marquee Super 14 players couldn’t be Queenstown-based.
“If we want to get behind the franchise and they’re looking to recruit players who’d prefer basing themselves in Queenstown, that’s an option.”
In the meantime, Mains says he and Graham will investigate the costs and logistics of Otago playing a pre-season match at Frankton and visiting Queenstown for a training block this season.
“The large majority of the games will need to be played at the new Dunedin stadium but there’s provision that one match could be elsewhere. Queenstown would be logical.”
Players are fans.
Some even pitch for Queenstown to be the Highlanders base. High-landers centre Jayden Hayward, a reserve during the 27-41 loss to the Western Force last Saturday, says: “I talked to half the players and they say ‘Why aren’t we based in Queenstown?’.”