Expansive style key for Otago: Herring

Ben Herring.
Ben Herring.
Get it wide.

That is the instruction for tonight’s Ranfurly Shield defence against Manawatu at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Otago coach Ben Herring wants his side to play to its strengths, and that means running rugby.

He was disappointed with the effort in the 29-21 loss to Hawke’s Bay last week.

The team abandoned its expansive aspirations and fell into the trap of trying to stop what Hawke’s Bay was doing.

"I think a good lesson for us from the Hawke’s Bay game was we weren’t able to play the style of game that we like to play, which is [a] fairly open, running sort of game of rugby," Herring said.

"We want to be able to play that game. But if we enter into other styles of game, we’re not as productive.

"I think we’ll be seeing a fairly attacking style of footy. From our side of things, we’ll certainly be trying to play as much as we can."

Otago struggled to get its share of the ball and conceded a lot of penalties from set play. It has worked hard at addressing some of those issues.

Tighthead prop Hisa Sasagi joins an all-new front row for the match. His presence should bolster the scrum. But plan A is to get the ball wide and move away from structured rugby.

Manawatu has been bolstered by All Black utility forward Jackson Hemopo, and boasts a combative pack.

"I assume they’ll have a crack [up front]. But obviously, Jamie Booth is their captain and their linchpin with Otere Black.

"The pack and No9 and No10 is an area we’ll just need to cut off."

However, Herring said Manawatu’s strengths were hard to assess, considering it had played two games in very wet conditions and had come up against a very good Tasman side in its last outing.

A Ranfurly Shield match always brings more intensity. But Otago has had three defences now and that has helped take some of the edge off any extra nerves, Herring said.


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