Rugby: Gilbert predicting North v South game will be 'treat'

The controversial North v South rugby fixture in Dunedin on Sunday has received a lukewarm welcome. Photo / Getty Images
The controversial North v South rugby fixture in Dunedin on Sunday has received a lukewarm welcome. Photo / Getty Images

The controversial North v South rugby fixture in Dunedin on Sunday - organised to help bail out the financially-stricken Otago Rugby Union - has received a lukewarm welcome from supporters, players and their Super Rugby coaches.

Players have been divided depending on which Super Rugby team they play for, with the Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes franchises in the north up against the Crusaders and Highlanders in the south. New Zealand sevens player Charles Piutau has been included in the North Island team.

The match is the first North v South clash since a 1995 game which was also played in Dunedin.

South coach Tony Gilbert said he was grateful so many players had made themselves available for selection.

"We know how intense the rugby season is these days so it's great that so many have been willing to put their hand up for the match which aims to thank the local community for supporting the Otago Rugby Football Union at this time," he said.

"It should be a top match. There are a number of players in both teams who are on the fringe of All Blacks selection so I am sure they will have plenty to play for. And I know these festival-style matches are always great entertainment so I think fans are in for a treat on Sunday."

North coach Graham Mourie said he was sure his team would be working hard to make the match an exciting spectacle in the manner of past encounters.

"I have fond memories of these matches so I am really looking forward to rekindling that rivalry, in the magnificent Forsyth Barr Stadium. I've also got a score to settle having captained the North side which got thumped by the South in 1982."

The teams do not assemble in Dunedin until Friday. The match kicks off at 2.05pm.

- APNZ

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