Cook Islander leads against Lions

Thursday June 01, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Cook Islander Sam Anderson-Heather will lead the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians against British and Irish Lions tonight in Whangarei. 17060137/Otago Daily Times Cook Islander Sam Anderson-Heather will lead the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians against British and Irish Lions tonight in Whangarei. 17060137/Otago Daily Times

When the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians will take the field against the British and Irish Lions tonight, a Cook Islander will be leading the charge.

 

Sam Anderson-Heather will skipper the Barbarians in the historic match against the mighty Lions at 9.35pm (CI time) at Toll Stadium in Whangarei.

Anderson-Heather, who was earmarked for the Cook Islands team in the last Rugby World Cup qualifier against Fiji, missed out on technical grounds.

Cook Islands Rugby Union chief executive officer Ben Koteka said a Cook Islander leading a team against the Lions was a proud moment for the country.

“This is huge for Cook Islands and Cook Islands rugby. To have a Cook Islander captaining a side in this auspicious occasion is a proud moment for all of us.

“Sam has family links to Rarotonga and I’m sure they are all proud of his achievement. We wish him the very best against the Lions.”

Anderson-Heather has come a long way from playing club rugby in Dunedin in between his job as a maintenance engineer.

In an interview with New Zealand Herald, he said his team members were keeping their goals against the much-fancied Lions close to their chests.

“We’ve got a lot of goals and different motivations within the team, but we’ll keep that between us,” the 29-year-old hooker said.

“We obviously know about them, but we want to make sure they know us by the end of the match.

“At the end of the day, respect is one of the bigger ones for us. Personally, you’d like to come off the field and look the opposite in the eye and know that they had a good game and that they were pushed. That’s really important for us.”

The Barbarians squad is selected from two of New Zealand’s major provincial competitions – the Mitre 10 Cup and the Heartland Championship.

It features players from 14 provincial unions across New Zealand rugby.

Meanwhile the Warren Gatland-coached Lions have named a strong line-up which will be led by Wales skipper Sam Warburton.

New Zealand Provincial Barbarians line-up – 1. Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty), 2. Sam Anderson-Heather – captain (Otago), 3. Oliver Jager (Canterbury), 4. Josh Goodhue (Northland), 5. Keepa Mewett (Bay of Plenty), 6. James Tucker (Waikato), 7. Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), 8. Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), 9. Jack Stratton (Canterbury), 10. Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), 11. Sevu Reece (Waikato), 12. Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato), 13. Inga Finau (Canterbury), 14. Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau), 15. Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau)

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