Hard work, patience behind Fotheringham contract

Rookie Southland Stags lock Ben Fotheringham during a lineout training session in Invercargill...
Rookie Southland Stags lock Ben Fotheringham during a lineout training session in Invercargill this week. Photo: Logan Savory
Ben Fotheringham is more excited than most about the prospect of running on to Rugby Park in Invercargill on Sunday with the Southland Stags.

He was training with the Stags last week but without the comfort of a fulltime Mitre 10 Cup contract.

On Thursday night, he got the heads up which changed that.

The apprentice plumber was in fact offered a contract and is now bracing himself for a rookie season with a team he has grown up watching.

Southland will open its 2018 Mitre 10 Cup season against Hawke's Bay on Sunday.

The 21-year- old lock is Southland through and through.

"I'm born and bred [in Southland]," he stressed.

"There are a few nerves there, but I'm mostly excited.

It would be good if I can get a run on Rugby Park; that would be pretty cool," he said.

Fotheringham has progressed through the Southland age-group ranks and was a good player during his time at Southland Boys' High School. However, it would not be unfair to suggest he did not generate the fanfare other school team-mates did, in regard to their future Stags prospects.

Fotheringham's rise has been built on hard work and patience.

For the past two years he has been one of Southland club rugby's standout players, playing an important role in helping Marist win back-to-back Galbraith Shield titles.

Fotheringham believes the past three seasons with Marist have set him up well.

He said the standards the likes of Scott Eade and Phil Halder set at Marist training, and in general, ensured the transition into the Stags set-up was not too much of a shock.

While the contract offer was a major step forward in Fotheringham's rugby career, he acknowledged it was just a start.

"I'm pretty happy. I've been doing a lot of hard work through the year, so to get that opportunity is pretty cool.

"It's just started now, though. I've got to put in the hard yards now."

Stags coach Dave Hewett did not initially include Fotheringham in the Southland squad named last month, preferring to leave an opening while he looked at different locking options.

Fotheringham ended up filling that spot.

"Fozzy came into the group for the Otago game and then played in the Northland game. He has done really well, so we offered him a contract," Hewett said.

"It's another local boy coming through, which is what I want to do. But I also need to be realistic not to put somebody in who wasn't ready for the job.

"The reality is we have got Ben here at a level he is capable at and he is just as good as anyone else we could have probably got to come down who is outside the province."

The Stags team to play Hawke's Bay is scheduled to be named today.


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