The New England Free Jacks signed New Zealand openside flanker Slade Mcdowall for the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 23-year-old (24 in March) is 6’0″ and 220lbs.
Slade is from Mataura, on the south island of New Zealand. He attended Otago Boys High School and his rugby performance led to his selection to the New Zealand Schools team in 2015 at the end of his high school career.
Slade progressed through the Otago Rugby’s Academy system while studying at Otago Polytechnic, and made his debut with the Otago National Provincial Championship squad in 2017. He was also elected for the wider New Zealand Under 20 squad in 2018.
Slade played five seasons with Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup, which is currently the Bunnings NPC. He made 41 NPC appearances and helped the team in the Ranfurly Shield in 2018 and 2020.
In 2020 he joined the Super Rugby Highlanders, as a replacement for the injured James Lentjes for the tour of South Africa and Argentina.
Slade also played club rugby with Kaikorai RFC in Dunedin, and the OBHS Old Boys and were the Spartan Tens Champions in 2021.
New England Free Jacks Comments
“Slade is a tough no-nonsense type of loose forward which is typical of players from Otago in New Zealand,” commented Free Jacks Assistant Coach, Mike Rogers. “Slade has a real intensity around his collision work, is very strong over the ball, and brings real intent to his defensive game.”
“As the defense coach, I am really excited about Slade coming to the Free Jacks. Slade has exhibited over a number of years with Otago in the Bunnings NPC that he is a real defensive menace which bodes well for the type of defense that we will run in the MLR.”