25 Oct 2016

Hore comes out of retirement for Otago

6:00 pm on 25 October 2016

Former All Black hooker Andrew Hore is likely to make a return to first-class rugby on Friday when Otago play North Harbour in the domestic rugby Championship final.

Andrew Hore in his professional playing days at an All Blacks training.

Andrew Hore in his professional playing days at an All Blacks' training. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Regular hooker Sam Anderson-Heather suffered a calf injury during Otago's 27-20 semi-final win against Bay of Plenty on Friday.

That leaves Sekonaia Pole the only hooker in the team who is currently fit to play.

The winner of the Mitre10 Cup Championship final will be promoted to the Premiership competition for 2017.

Otago coach Cory Brown said he felt he had no option but to call 38-year-old Andrew Hore into the squad as cover in case Anderson-Heather is unable to recover in time.

"I tried to get in touch with the All Blacks around Liam Coltman to see if they would be releasing him for the final and unfortunately, they weren't able to release him for the final to play for Otago," Brown said.

"We didn't have a lot of options left. Sam Sturgess who was ranked fourth in Otago had gone over to Spain to play rugby, and someone with Andrew's experience would've come to mind and I rang him up and he was really interested in coming to play."

Hore has had two trainings with the side and Brown said he's fit back into the fold seamlessly.

"He's in really good condition. He's a farmer and he's been playing rugby for Maniototo and for Otago Country [in] representative rugby so, he's raring to go and he's fit and he'll do a great job," he said.

"He loves rugby, he loves being on the rugby park and he's fitted straight in.

"He knew the lineouts and nailed those and we did some scrummaging today and he was right amongst it."

Brown said he'll make the call on Anderson-Heather's fitness on Friday, but at this stage it seems like Hore will replace him.

"He's not looking likely which is a real shame for Sam [Anderson-Heather] because he deserves to play in the final," he said.

"He's put in a huge amount of effort for Otago over about eight years and now it's a real shame for him, but we're going to give him as much time as possible."

Brown said Sekonaia Pole will start for Otago, and Hore will be named on the bench is Anderson-Heather is not match fit.

Hore retired from international rugby in 2013, and played his last domestic game for Southland in 2014.