Old Golds coach: local rivalry should fire us up this week

There should not be any issue with the attitude this week.

North Otago will host Heartland Championship front-runners South Canterbury in Oamaru today.

It is the derby match and the resumption of a great rivalry.

North Otago is the defending champion, having won the Meads Cup in 2019.

The Heartland Champion ship was cancelled last year due to Covid and South Canterbury has emerged as the early pace-setter this season. It has won all four games by comfortable margins, and according to North Otago coach Jason Forrest is the best team in the competition right now.

They sound very much like the words of a coach who is trying to light a fire under his troops.

Forrest was not happy with the attitude in the narrow 12-10 win against Poverty Bay in Oamaru last weekend.

‘‘We weren’t that good last week. We were disappointed in ourselves,’’ Forrest said.

‘‘It was just our attitude and execution, really. We’d come off a really good win against Mid-Canterbury and it can be hard to back-up, especially with an inexperienced group.

‘‘But if we can’t get up for this game with our attitude and energy and that sort of thing...’’ he said, trailing off.

‘‘It’s our neighbours across the bridge.’’

North Otago has made a moderate number of changes.

Experienced hooker and captain Sam Sturgess returns to the starting line-up. He had a niggle last week and missed the game against Pov erty Bay.

Green Island loose forward Sean Jansen has been named at lock. ‘‘He has been playing for Otago B at lock and playing very well.’’

‘‘We get five weeks to register loan players, so this is our fifth week of the competition. But it was a big call having to leave out [fellow loan player] Aron Einarsson.

‘‘But we needed to get Sean in and Tristan Fuli has been going really, really well for us.’’ Charles Elton is the other loan player and he has retained his spot at No 8. Oliver Kinzett gets a start at lock in another change in the pack.

‘‘He is a young exciting guy and we need guys with energy this week.’’

Manulua Taiti played lock last week but will return to his usual spot on the side of the scrum.

Veteran Lemi Masoe moves from the bench to a starting role on the right wing.

His experience will be needed in what is an inexperienced backline.

‘‘He is just that cool head that we need out there.’’



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