Curtis the Ram now running with the Bulls
The Southland Rams will again be without key player Byron Curtis for the South Island provincial league competition, with the He Tauaa centre lining up for the Canterbury Bulls in New Zealand's top level domestic league competition.
Curtis was originally named in the Rams team for the competition opener against Otago in Dunedin on Saturday night but has since been a surprise callup for the Bulls for their opening national premiership competition game against the Northern Swords in Whangarei on Sunday.
Curtis was part of the South Island Scorpions team that took part in last year's national competition but he had originally indicated he would not line up in the series again in 2013, citing study commitments at the Southern Institute of Technology.
The Scorpions name has been scrapped and replaced by the Canterbury Bulls for the 2013 season but will still be run by the New Zealand Rugby League's southern zone board and include players from throughout the South Island.
Despite Curtis originally indicating he wasn't available the selectors still wanted him involved again, even after he missed the trials in Christchurch last weekend.
To ensure it doesn't conflict with Curtis' study, they will fly him to games after his course finishes on a Friday and back again in time for class on Monday.
"I wasn't able to make trials because of family commitments and work, which I had to put first, but I got a text on Sunday night saying I had made the squad, so I was pretty surprised with that."
The 2013 New Zealand Students World Cup squad member was excited about getting another opportunity to test himself against New Zealand's best domestic players this season although he was disappointed it came at the cost of playing for Southland.
"[Rams coach] Greg Dawson said he is right behind me which is great. I kind of feel bad because I wanted to play for the Rams but I guess for my league career it is the best step for me."
Curtis hopes other Southlanders may follow his lead in the future and have a crack at playing in the national competition.
"It would be good to see more people from down here going up to the trials. There's definitely the talent down here for it."
The Southland Times