Veteran David Hall gets recall to Stags

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2013
David Hall
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
FAMILIAR FIGURE: Southland hooker David Hall training this week.

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It's bonus time for David Hall.

The Stags veteran thought his rugby playing days were over after he was unwanted by Southland for the 2012 season and he headed north for a cameo stint with Northland in last year's NPC.

He had planned to settle into a coaching role with Pirates-Old Boys in the Southland premier club competition, but found retiring from playing no easy task.

"When I left Northland last year I thought my time with rugby was over in general, I guess. I was just going to coach and then, when Pirates-Old Boys didn't have that many players, I started training with them.

"Hanging around with those lads just reinvigorated my passion for rugby again and it went from there."

A pectoral injury to good friend and long-time team-mate Jason Rutledge saw Hall get a recall to the Stags and he looks set to add to the 90 games he has played at hooker and amongst the loose forwards for Southland.

"The Southland thing has come as a bit of a surprise, but obviously with the injury to Rudder, they just wanted another experienced guy and I fitted the bill they were after."

A former Southland cricket representative, Hall is well aware of the "nervous nineties", but the lure of becoming Southland rugby's next centurion is not something that is driving him this season.

"No-one likes to be in the nervous nineties, but 100 games is the dream of every young bloke that starts playing for Southland. If it happens it would be great, hopefully the body can hold up, but I just want to enjoy it and it doesn't really matter in the end if I get there or not."

Hall played eight games for Northland last year, mainly as a bench option behind Tone Kopelani, and was frustrated at not being able to give his best because of Achilles and neck injuries.

Playing against Southland and at Invercargill had also been a challenge, he said.

"It was the sort of game I thought I would be pretty fired up for but I was in a funny head space and it was probably one of the worst games of my career, to be honest," Hall said.

"It was a weird feeling, sort of surreal when you've played so much for one side and then end up playing against them. I didn't probably get my head around that."

Hall, who is grateful to his employer, Southland Boys' High School, for giving him the time off to play for the Stags, will be on the bench for tomorrow's final preseason game against Otago in Gore.

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The game is a first class fixture, but the Donald Stuart memorial trophy, currently held by Otago, won't be up for grabs.

Stags coach David Henderson has opted to roll out another strong side in his final dress rehearsal, although there will be interest in how Willis Halaholo goes alongside Bryan Milne in the midfield.

Flanker John Hardie returns to openside for the first time since a knee injury curtailed his Highlanders campaign.

SOUTHLAND: Marty McKenzie, Warrick Lynn, Bryan Milne, Willis Halaholo, Tim Cornforth, Scott Eade, Tayler Adams, Elliot Dixon, John Hadie, Hale T-Pole, Michael Fatialofa, Josh Bekhuis, Nick Barrett, Talemaitoga Tuapati, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: David Hall, JP Koen, Craig Smith, Naulia Dawai, Nemia Kenatale, Cardiff Vaega, Keanu Kahukura.

- The Southland Times

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