Rugby: Team goes up country as one

Otago rugby players Peter Mirrielees (left) and Ben Nolan help Murray Tweed with the drenching on...
Otago rugby players Peter Mirrielees (left) and Ben Nolan help Murray Tweed with the drenching on hisc farm at Waitahuna, near Lawrence, yesterday. Photo by Rachel Taylor.
Coming face-to-face with heartland supporters has instilled a new sense of purpose in the Otago rugby team.

Coaches Phil Mooney and David Latta, manager Des Smith and the players have been on the road since Monday, travelling from Arrowtown to Lawrence to put the team back in touch with rugby's rural roots.

Otago hooker Peter Mirrielees said the camp, with new coaches, was a fresh start for the team.

"We are trying to build our own legacy, rather than dwelling on the past," he said.

"People think we are helping them, but they are helping us, by showing us what rural supporters go through.

"It was good for us as players to see what Otago rugby really means."

Mirrielees and prop Ben Nolan said the team recognised the rural support it had when it arrived in places like Maniototo and Ranfurly, "and it was chock-a-block".

Seeing the looks on children's faces when the team arrived was special, Nolan said.

The front-rowers, both from the Harbour club, spent Wednesday night staying on a Waitahuna farm with Otago rugby supporter Murray Tweed, Nolan's former coach, before being put to work yesterday splitting firewood and drenching and shearing sheep.

Tweed said the Otago camp was "a pretty joyous occasion" and something Otago rugby should be doing more of.

"It's good to take Otago rugby back to its origins," he said.

Tweed believed the combination of Mooney, Latta and Smith was going to be quite exciting.

The team had bonded really well with Mooney, who they called "Matilda", Mirrielees said.

"He's not just the boss - he's one of us."

This camp had shown there were no prima donnas in the team, Mirrielees said.

"There were no separate players who thought they were higher up. We are all one."


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