Confident heading to home turf

Otago University midfielder Oban Hawkins watches the ball at Logan Park Turf yesterday before...
Otago University midfielder Oban Hawkins watches the ball at Logan Park Turf yesterday before tomorrow’s Chatham Cup quarterfinal. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Tomorrow will be new territory for Otago University but star midfielder Oban Hawkins will feel right at home.

The club will make its first foray into the Chatham Cup quarterfinals when it faces North Shore United at Allen Hill Stadium in Auckland.

The pitch is 15 minutes from Hawkins’ family house. It is not just the location that will feel familiar to him.

Before he headed south to start a degree in medicine in 2019, Hawkins made it all the way to the Chatham Cup final — and won — with Auckland’s Birkenhead United.

He was just a youngster in that team and came on in extra time.

It was experience that would prove useful, although his role would be a little different this time around.

"It is a bit different because I’m more expected to have a bigger impact for the Varsity team," Hawkins (20) said.

"Playing for Birkenhead I was more like a fringe player just coming on, trying to not do bad, rather than create things."

He has plenty of perspective on what to expect.

Four of Hawkins’ team-mates from Birkenhead play for the North Shore team University is facing.

He had been "pleasantly surprised" by the University team’s professionalism.

It was similar to his experience at Birkenhead. He was confident the team could hang with the Auckland opponent.

"I played with them every week. I know I can play with these guys and I know my team can play with them.

"It’s not too scary having had that experience."

Hawkins, who has also played eight futsal games for New Zealand, is three years into his medicine degree.

He had another three years left, so was likely to be in Dunedin for a while yet.

But he admitted football excitement had been interrupting study for most of the University team this week.

It has been in superb form of late, notably beating Christchurch’s Selwyn United 3-1 to remain unbeaten two weeks into the South Island league.

The students also claimed an impressive 4-1 win over the South City Royals in their last Chatham Cup outing.

All that had the team buzzing ahead of Saturday.

"Yeah, I think we are really confident actually. We’ve won seven games in a row.

"Obviously it’s going to be such a hard ask to go up and beat North Shore.

"But this is as confident as we’ve ever been feeling. They’ve had a bit of a bad run of form.

"So hopefully, we’ll see what happens, but we are really confident."

Kick off is scheduled for 2pm.

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