Brooklan makes the Otago grade

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A fleet-footed young Queenstowner has pulled off the rare feat of making an under-age Otago rugby side. 

Wakatipu High Year 8 student Brooklan Niwa (pictured) this Saturday plays his first competition game for the Otago under 65kgs – against the Southland U65kg side in Balfour, near Lumsden. 

When Otago beat Southland in a pre-season game at Dunedin’s Carisbrook two weekends ago, Brooklan, 13, scored three tries on the wing. 

“It’s great for kids from Queenstown to be able to get the chance to run onto Carisbrook in an Otago jersey,” his Wakatipu Warriors under-13 assistant coach Craig Ferguson says. 

“It’s a carrot there for the other young kids that you can do it too.” 

Following Saturday’s game the Otago youngsters play North Otago in Dunedin on September 18 then travel to the South Island under-65kg tournament in Christchurch from September 26-28. 

Brooklan’s achievement is also hailed by Wakatipu Premiers coach, ex-Highlander Kelvin Middleton. 

“That is a fantastic effort because it’s just so hard to be recognised for your ability in Country, at whatever level,” Middleton says. 

Meanwhile, another Queenstowner rugby talent Michael Collins, 17, has been named in the New Zealand under-17 development squad. 

Collins, a former Wakatipu High student who relocated to Dunedin’s Otago Boys High last year, has previously captained both the Otago Metro under-16 rugby side and Otago under-17 cricket team.