By Chris Rattue
Queensland rugby could be in the dog box (but not too seriously) over its latest Super 12 innovation.
Queensland used a Border Collie- Kelpie cross to bring the kicking tee to goalkicker Nathan Spooner in Saturday night's match between the Reds and Highlanders at Ballymore.
The dog is the most bizarre Super 12 newcomer to a competition which seems to like oddities (such as those silly stripes on the Eden Park playing area).
The director of the SANZAR tournament, Murray Reid from Auckland, loved the idea but will check if it can continue.
"I absolutely loved it, great," said Reid.
"But what if the dog doesn't always do as it should.
"I'm just not too sure at the moment.
"It took a while to come out for the first kick and we don't want too many delays."
The dog's stage name is Bomber, but that is not his real handle. Bomber's real name is a secret because if the crowd yells its name, the kicking tee is likely to end up in row 12, seat 20.
The dog's handler must point it towards Queensland's goalkicker, who then calls its real name to get the kicking tee delivered. Bomber is the nickname of revered Reds captain David Wilson, and like the Queensland captain the dog wears the number seven jersey.
The dog-also-known-as-Bomber was tested in a club game and had two long practice sessions with Spooner before making his debut on Saturday.
"Bomber is only for our kickers because it wouldn't be fair to ask visiting teams to practise," said Reds PR man Peter Kelly, who came up with the idea.
"He is only a home-game dog. I hope we didn't need permission because I never asked for it.
"I was hoping Nathan would kick the early goals. Otherwise [coach] John Connoly would have yelled, `Get that dog out of here'."
By Chris Rattue