Queenstown’s best rugby player is hocking off his skills to Germany.
Wakatipu Premiers captain Henry Youngman, his team’s player of the year for the past three seasons, is playing for the Frankfurt’s 1880 club, starting this Saturday.
A local breakfast radio jock for the past five-and-a-half years, Youngman MC’ed the Winter Games last weekend and flew out on Monday.
Youngman, who’ll also coach a junior team, credits former Wakatipu teammate Regan Pearce for his big move.
Pearce’s mate, who plays for the club, asked if he knew any guys who were keen to play.
Youngman (left), who’s joined by Wakatipu Prems hooker Jake McEwan, says: “I was aroused by the thought of heading somewhere and playing and getting stuck into a different community.”
This season he’s also played two games for Otago Country, scoring a try in each.
He’s travelled to trainings with Arrowtown Premiers stalwart Aidan Winter, who had two seasons playing in the same German league: ”He had nothing but positive things to say.”
Though his teammates will predominantly be Germans, Youngman says most of them speak English – “and all the lineout calls are in English”.
A blindside flanker, he singles out his first year with the Prems, 2012, when they won the Central Otago and Countrywide titles and took the White Horse Cup, as his local rugby highlight.
He also fondly recalls a White Horse Cup game at Queenstown Recreation Ground the following season.
Wakatipu, boosted by former All Black Justin Marshall, turned around a 17-3 halftime deficit to beat Maniototo, who were sporting All Blacks Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock.
Youngman says beating Maniototo and Arrowtown is always a highlight, but wins have been few and far between over the past three seasons.
This year’s team, who finished fourth, had “a good core of Kiwi lads”, but again suffered from players coming and going due to Queenstown’s transient nature.
Youngman, who played for Maniototo in 2007 and Alexandra in 2008, says depending on how his first season in Frankfurt goes, he might stick around for another.
But he eventually hopes to return to Queenstown: “This has got to be the best place in the world.”