Thursday, 12 February 2009

Gidday from Dunedin from where you’d hardly know Super 14 rugby was about to kick off with tonight’s Highlanders v Brumbies clash at Carisbrook.

It would appear, in fact, there’s a whole lot more interest in the future of Carisbrook than the prospects of the Highlanders. Everyone in this city, it seems, has an opinion on the proposed new stadium and my brief polling would suggest Dunedin is a city divided -almost down the middle.

No one is in denial a new covered waterfront stadium would be a great asset to the University of Otago and to a city that has fallen behind the likes of Hamilton and Tauranga in national ranking in recent times. However the problem arises when it comes to paying for it, more particularly who should pay for it?

Without wanting to sound like a cheerleader for licensing trusts, because they aren’t without blemish, it’s just another timely reminder of how lucky a dairying province like Southland is to have such cash cows to call on.

Confession time. If I hadn’t managed to grease my way into a corporate box tonight, I’d have to put hand on heart and admit I’d stay home and watch the final Chappell-Hadlee one-dayer.

I bang on about this every year at this time. I can’t get excited about rugby until I’ve tucked into some Easter eggs and hot cross buns!

Friday the 13th is considered unlucky for some. I hope it does not come to pass for the Highlanders franchise on and off the field tonight. With a forecast high today of only 14 degrees, the competition from the cricket in Brisbane, throw in the OtagoVolts v Auckland Aces Twenty-20 clash at the University Oval, not to mention most of the scarfies still missing in action, and the potential is there for a very mediocre crowd.

For Southlanders though, there will be plenty of interest in how our two favourite sons, Jimmy and Jamie, go in their new leadership roles, how Josh Bekhius fares in his debut at this level and whether Kenny Lynn gets a decent run off the bench.

And let’s not forget Cabbage. When Jason Rutledge inevitable gives David Hall a spell, it will be a victory for perseverance, persistence and perspiration.

If the Highlanders play with half his courage and commitment, they will kick off their campaign on a winning note.


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