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Hayden Todd says North Otago players need to pull their socks up.
And there is no better time to do so than in today’s Heartland Championship game against Buller in Westport.
The Old Golds’ vice-captain said he was enjoying his first season at this level but acknowledged the team had been ‘‘hit and miss’’ in its performances, playing well one week and averagely the next.
‘‘If we go off previous games, this [week] is our off game, in a way, so basically this is where we really need to pull our socks up and show that we can do it more than one game in a row,’’ Todd said.
Both teams will head into the game hurting.
North Otago lost to South Canterbury 33-27, while Buller suffered defeat to Ngati Porou East Coast 50-26, the North Island team’s first win in eight years.
Todd had never played on the West Coast but said the ‘‘chatter’’ among the team let him know it was a hoodoo ground for North Otago.
‘‘They haven’t played well over there in the last couple of years, so everyone’s really looking forward to going over there and putting their best foot forward.’’
Heading into the match against South Canterbury, the coaches asked for more ‘‘ticker’’, effort and consistency — and the players delivered. Ruck and line speed was better, and the defensive unit was strong, just falling off a few key tackles to let South Canterbury score.
‘‘They wanted to see players put their bodies on the line, which I think we saw from quite a few of the lads, which is awesome. It was a great team performance,’’ Todd said.
They would need to bring the same intensity today, he said.
Captain Sam Sturgess agreed, saying North Otago took a lot of confidence from its match against South Canterbury, despite the loss.
‘‘I think it shows we’ve got the ability to do it. We couldn’t fault the attitude and intensity we played with last week. We certainly brought it to the table — we just probably didn’t execute for the whole 80 minutes,’’ Sturgess said.
Loan player Sean Jansen made a good impact in his debut last week, and home-grown talent was stepping up each week too.
‘‘It’s a completely new-look side from that team we had in 2019, but it’s just great to see new guys getting an opportunity to represent their region,’’ Sturgess said.
‘‘There’s certainly a few guys putting both hands on it and saying ‘I want the spot’.’’
North Otago was ‘‘lucky enough’’ to have a chartered flight from Timaru to the West Coast and was ready for the game
‘‘We expect that they’re going to bounce back. They had a hard loss against East Coast last week, and they will be targeting this game at home to have a crack at us.’’
But North Otago was looking forward to getting back on track with a win, Sturgess said.