Rugby: Game time key to form - Renton

Otago halfback Josh Renton at training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago halfback Josh Renton at training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Josh Renton is enjoying the ride.

Renton (21) is the link man in an Otago team which has scored a healthy 47 tries this season.

The halfback connects the hard work of the men in front of him with the fancy boys outside him to make an impact on the scoreboard.

The former Otago Boys' High School First XV captain said he was feeling much more confident this season in his play and the team's and it was paying off.

''I'm just backing myself more and getting a lot more consistency. I think I've had eight games on the trot and that really helps, getting out on the park,'' he said.

''The forwards have put in a real good lift from last year. They are giving the backs some really good ball and we are scoring some nice tries.''

Renton, who missed the first two games of the season after picking up an ankle sprain in a pre-season match against Southland, said the side was just doing what it needed to do and playing the game at pace.

''Playing the game at speed is the key to it. If we play at speed then teams can't stay with us. Playing in the stadium obviously helps us. It gives you quicker ball and you can run around more.''

Under the roof obviously helps in the scoring of tries.

How much so though is impossible to tell.

In most games, players wear a device in their jersey to tell how many metres they cover in a game. Renton usually logs from 6000m to 7000m a game.

But with the roof, the GPS system for measuring players does not work so no accurate reading can be gathered, Renton said.

Otago's all-attacking game under new coach Cory Brown was getting its reward and getting into the semifinals was a marked step-up from last year when the team won just three games and finished well out of the playoffs.

Renton said it was not easy to point to one thing which had led to the improvement on the field.

''There is nothing I can really put my finger on. We had a goal set at the start of the year and that included working really hard for each other and creating a good culture. Everyone is enjoying the environment.''

Renton was a member of an Otago Boys' High School side which made it all the way to the final of the top four in 2012.

He played for Otago the following year but admits the gulf between the two - school rugby and first-class rugby - was large.

''When I was in the seventh form we were racking up big scores, 60 to 70 points. When we went up north it was a bit different. A lot harder.

''But there is a huge difference. The game at the next level for Otago is just way more physical. That was the big difference for me. And the pace of the game.''

Renton was back at the Highlanders fulltime next season, learning from the likes of All Black halfback Aaron Smith.

The Otago side was looking forward to the ITM Cup championship semifinal against Wellington on Saturday night in the capital.

The teams had a tough battle earlier this season, Otago winning through a las- minute try.

Renton said Wellington was a physical side which would run all night.

''They have got some big ball-runners and that is where we have to be at our best. Our defensive game has to be on the job. We have to stop them and stop their momentum.''

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