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Michael Essex in New Zealand

9th July 2009 By Munster Rugby

Michael Essex’s time with Munster came to an end this season and the former Munster hooker, who celebrates his 24th birthday today, felt it was too early to hang up the boots.

Michael Essex’s time with Munster came to an end this season and the former Munster hooker, who celebrates his 24th birthday today, felt it was too early to hang up the boots.

Initially Essex looked around the UK and Europe for a club where he could further develop in the front row, securing regular game time at a decent standard. With limited options, it was Munster backs coach, Jason Holland, who suggested he look towards New Zealand, and put him in contact with the former Munster centre Mike Mullins, Head Coach at North Otago.

After consultation with Mullins about the set-up and structure, and with nothing to lose, Essex opted to head to the south island after finishing his exams at the end of May. Arriving on a Tuesday, Michael hit the ground running, togging out for the local club side Excelsior on the Saturday.

He continues playing with the Excelsior club, and has also featured in both of North Otago’s pre-season games against Otago and Southland, gaining invaluable experience from playing Air New Zealand Cup sides.

North Otago are now working towards the start of the Heartland Championship which begins at the end of August. They last won the competition in 2007 and have made it to at least the semi final stages for the last ten years.

So far Essex is enjoying the whole experience and the more running style of rugby, and is hopeful his time in New Zealand will help him develop into a better player, or possibly pave the way for a return to professional rugby.

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