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After a slow start to the season – which included losses to Waikato, Tasman and Wellington – Canterbury roared their campaign into top gear with an 80-0 demolition of Southland over the weekend. Now they have the chance to reaffirm themselves as semi-final candidates when they take on second-placed Auckland.
One Canterbury player who could play a major role in whether they march on from the Southland triumph is outside back Josh McKay.
Now in his third campaign with Canterbury, McKay has been a breakout player in the competition. His two tries at the weekend took him to a competition leading six tries. He also leads all players in metres carried with 433. The
Highlanders player is also second in clean breaks (12), just one behind Tasman’s Will Jordan and second in defenders beaten (25).
A big part of his rise to prominence could be his move to fullback. McKay has started all four games there this season. Last year he started nine games on the wing and was only used sporadically in the No 15 jersey.
The match against Auckland will be part of a double-header with Canterbury’s Farah Palmer Cup side taking on Auckland in a curtain-raiser.
Sunday schedule: Farah Palmer Cup – Auckland v Canterbury, 11:35am. Mitre 10 Cup – Auckland v Canterbury, 2:05pm.
Premiership standings: Tasman 19pts, 1; Auckland 14pts, 2; Waikato 12pts, 3; Wellington 12pts, 3; Counties Manukau 11pts, 4; North Harbour 9pts, 5; Canterbury 8pts, 6.