Title would be fitting farewell for flanker

University A captain Jack McHugh in the team’s changing rooms on Tuesday night as he prepares for...
University A captain Jack McHugh in the team’s changing rooms on Tuesday night as he prepares for his last game for the club in Saturday’s premier final. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Jack McHugh has a chance at a perfect farewell.

The University openside flanker has been one of the outstanding performers in Dunedin premier rugby over the past three years.

On Saturday he will play his last game for the club in the season’s final against Taieri at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The 22-year-old is set to graduate with a commerce degree in marketing and management after four years in Dunedin.

Three of those years he has played for the University A side.

Two of those have resulted in banners — one being a joint win with Harbour in 2018.

A third win would be an ideal sendoff and while excited, he was downplaying the last-game factor.

"I haven’t really thought about it at all," he said.

"But I guess when I have been talking about it, [there have been] just so many positive experiences and highlights that it’s hard to get down.

"So much funny stuff and exciting stuff and winning’s happened here.

"Whenever I’m thinking back over it, it’s always pretty cool to think back on.

"But I’ll be pretty sad to see the club go."

McHugh moved south from Auckland after finishing at Sacred Heart College in 2016.

There he played alongside new All Black loose forward Hoskins Sotutu — with whom he remains good friends.

After a year in colts, McHugh has been a top performer for University A.

He may have been unlucky not to get more of a run with the Otago team.

He felt he had a better chance when Ben Herring was coach, although he was not too disappointed not to have made this year’s squad.

He admits being smaller could lead you to being pigeon-holed as not being strong enough.

But it was not something he let stop him.

"You can’t run without your ankles sort of mindset — just get stuck in.

"I think it’s just the club. The Varsity club’s got such a strong culture, you want to represent them and do everything you can to make sure you do win."

That shone through as it defended its line to scrape a narrow win over Southern in Saturday’s semifinal.

More of that would be needed against a tough Taieri team.

It had finished top of the table, although it stumbled its way to the final with a loss to Southern before beating Harbour last week.

Last year the two sides met in the decider, Varsity scoring in the dying minutes to snatch victory.

McHugh expected this weekend to be just as tough.

"Last year they were a phenomenal outfit and this year I’d say they’ve been the form team all year — a seriously tough team to play against on Saturday.

"The boys know it’s going to be a tough old duel, but it’s almost more satisfying when you get to the final and take down the best team."

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