In tonight’s Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final, look out for a man who will stand out on the Auckland bench.
Hamish Dalzell, 24, might look like a fish out of red and black water, but he doesn’t feel it. That’s despite being from a Canterbury family being steeped in rugby tradition.
Dalzell, a former national Under 20 and Canterbury rep, comes from sheep farming stock, Coalgate, near Darfield, 40 minutes across the dusty plains from Christchurch. His grandfather is Nelson Dalzell, a famous Canterbury All Blacks from the 1950s.
His dad’s sister Caroline married Braeden Whitelock, a family who has provided several fairly decent rugby players, including All Blacks stalwart Sam, whose cousin Hamish played with in the last Japanese season for the Panasonic Wild Knights.
After his stint in Japan, Dalzell came home for lockdown, unfortunately then he couldn’t get back into Japan and his deal was cut. Without a team, he headed home, only to field a call in August from an Auckland side in need of a lock and the rest is history.
He drove from the farm all the way to the City of Sails, only to head straight home again, to avoid the second Auckland lockdown. Once he officially returned he’s fitted in, living with his sister, who’s a doctor in Auckland.
Dalzell says dad was quite understanding of his son now turning out for the arch enemy in the blue and white hoops.
He says he’s always tapped into the knowledge of the Whitelocks, when coming up as a teenager through the grades in Christchurch, when George was Canterbury captain, through to the vast experience of Sam and also learning more about defence from Luke.
Dalzell says he received some lamb jibes from teammates ahead of the Canterbury game a few weeks ago. He played with 13 of the Canterbury starting 15 that day, with a ton of relatives and mates in the Addington grandstands. He says he forced his family to wear Auckland gear, or else they wouldn’t get free tickets.