Monday, 16 November 2009

School’s out for summer. Here’s my end-of-year report card for the Stags:

Glen Horton (8): Another wonderful example of the great work Otago is doing in developing talent for Southland.

James Wilson (6.5): In some ways the troubled child of Southland rugby. Superbly talented, but we only get glimpses of it, such as in the semi-final against Wellington.

Tony Koonwaiyou (7.5): Like Horton he was slow out of the blocks due to injury but fully deserved his starting spot later in the season.

Matt Saunders (8): What he lacks in pace he more than makes up for in brains. He is a real leader and an integral part of the Stags.

Pehi Te Whare (6): Injury blighted his season.

Kendrick Lynn (8): As Earle Kirton is fond of saying - you can’t beat gas! Lynn has plenty but I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.

Jason Kawau (9): Another superb season. He is possibly the best passing midfield back in the country (take note Ma’a). If the Highlanders don’t pick him up, they deserve to finish last!

Robbie Robinson (9): The Boy Wonder wasn’t without error this season. But he possesses the temperament of a Brian McKechnie or a Jeff Wilson, when it comes to stepping up to the plate in the big moments in the big games. I will take his sideline penalty goal in the Ranfurly Shield challenge to my grave.

Scott Cowan (8): Mini-Me again stepped out to the shadow of his illustrious older brother. Started with a roar, faded somewhat, then finished like the champion he has become!

David Hall (8): It’s a measure of the man that the coaches felt they could not leave him out of the team, even if that meant picking him out of position.

Hua Tamariki (7.5) Ended up playing second-fiddle to Hall but performed heroically in the Shield challenge when it really counted.

Tim Boys (9.5): Without doubt the best No. 7 in the Air New Zealand Cup. I’ll refuse to watch the Highlanders if he’s not picked!

John Hardie (9): The prodigy came through big-time. A superb foil for Boys.

Josh Bekhuis (9): After a disappointing 2008, following his stellar 2007, it’s a matter of when, not if, he’s an All Black.

Joe Tuineau (8.5): The big improver of 2009. Wow, what an athlete!

Dave Gannon (7): The big Irishman never let the side down but unfortunately he had to battle two superior incumbents.

Chris King (9): Brilliant season. Good old fashioned head-down, bum-up prop.

Jamie Mackintosh (8.5): Wonderful captain. Wonderful ambassador for Southland. Scrummaging experts express some concern over his technique, but you’ll do me Whopper!

Jason Rutledge (10): In 2008 he was just tipped by Boys for my player of the year. This season there could be no denying him. He won’t follow Dad into the All Blacks, but he will follow him into the Southland Rugby Hall of Fame.


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