Stags bag a lock through the Ir­ish con­nec­tion

The Southland Times - - Sport - By NATHAN BUR­DON

IR­ISH lock David Gan­non will ar­rive in In­ver­cargill on Thurs­day to bol­ster Rugby South­land’s lim­ited sec­ond-row stocks.

The 26-year-old for­mer Ire­land A and age-group rep­re­sen­ta­tive is ex­pected to be the Stags’ thir­dranked lock when the squad is named early next week.

At 1.97m and 106kg, Gan­non can play in the tight or at blind­side.

He has played 68 games for Con­nacht in the Mag­n­ers League and rep­re­sented Ire­land A dur­ing the 2006/07 sea­son.

His games in­cluded the Churchill Cup, in which he scored a try

the New Zealand

Maori against team.

Rugby South­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Roger Clark said Gan­non had been sourced through lo­cal player agent Tom Downey’s in­ter­na­tional con­tacts.

The Stags had orig­i­nally hoped New Zealand un­der-20 lock Alex Ryan would be ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing the backup role to first-choice tight for­wards Josh Bekhuis and Joe Tuineau dur­ing this year’s Air New Zealand Cup.

While Ryan had played well against North Otago last week, it was agreed dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween Rugby South­land of­fi­cials and the player that he was not ready for the rigours of a full Air New Zealand Cup cam­paign, Clark said.

Other lo­cal op­tions, in­clud­ing Craig Smith and Ben Nally, also needed time to de­velop, he said.

Rugby South­land had looked through­out New Zealand for a suit­able lock, but had come up short.

An ap­proach to Welling­ton to get for­mer Wood­lands lock Daniel Ram­say on loan back to his home prov­ince for a sea­son was com­pli­cated be­cause Ram­say has bro­ken his hand.

Welling­ton coach Jamie Joseph had in­di­cated Ram­say, who is in Welling­ton’s train­ing squad, would have played in the cap­i­tal’s pre­sea­son Ran­furly Shield chal­lenges had he been avail­able, Clark said.

Wary of past dis­ap­point­ments, Stags co-coach David Hen­der­son had seen game tapes of Gan­non play­ing.

While con­tract­ing an over­seas player was not ideal, Clark said the lack of im­me­di­ate depth in the po­si­tion had forced the union’s hand.

‘‘Nor­mally we wouldn’t bring in out­side play­ers and we’ve been try­ing our best not to.’’

Gan­non had stated an in­ten­tion of stay­ing in New Zealand if his rugby ca­reer de­vel­oped, Clark said.

‘‘He’s com­ing out here to make the Stags, but just as im­por­tantly, if he likes it, he’s looking at the op­tion of this be­ing his home.’’

Gan­non will not be avail­able for Fri­day’s pre­sea­son game against Can­ter­bury start­ing at 4.30pm but could play against Otago in the fi­nal pre­sea­son game on July 24.

The South­land team to play Can­ter­bury will be named to­mor­row.

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