Thursday, 18 February 2010

Jimmy Cowan’s re-signing with the Stags is obviously great news for Southland rugby but it was tempered by the confirmation Jason Kawau may well have pulled on the maroon jersey for the last time.

Cowan is undoubtedly Southland’s marquee player and despite his modest protestations about not feeling like he’s an established All Black, 2009 saw him cement the hitherto hotly-contested number 9 jersey from Piri Weepu, Brendon Leonard and Andy Ellis.

I don’t know what you think but I reckon, in recent seasons, Cowan has played his best rugby for the All Blacks and not the Stags? That’s not to say he’s played badly for Southland. Far from it! He’s inspirational, his courage beyond reproach, his defense insurmountable, but I’ve sometimes felt he’s taken on too much himself whereas with the All Blacks he only has to worry about his job as he is surrounded by excellence.

I read with interest Logan Savory’s column yesterday about Kawau and have to take issue with his comment that he wouldn’t rate him as one of the better players he’d seen go through the Southland set up and that he lacked the flair some of his team-mates possessed.

Logan, Logan, Logan! Sure Kawau is not Jeff Wilson or Robbie Robinson but he has in bucket loads that most endearing quality of all good second five-eighths. A safe pair of hands – metaphorically as well as literally. And a better passing midfield back, save maybe Steve Pokere, I’ve yet to see in a Southland jersey.

Cowan is star of the Southland backline but Kawau, the shearer’s son from Balfour, has been the guts of it for the past five years. He will be sorely missed.

* I love getting sports books in the post. I’m like a kid unwrapping a Christmas present. Yesterday’s offering in the mail was Conqueror’s of Time by former Southland Times sports editor Lynn McConnell.

It’s the story of Jack Lovelock, describing the period between the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and Berlin four years later where Lovelock was victorious after his previously disappointing seventh placing in LA.

McConnell’s latest literary effort brings, to three, my total of Lovelock books, alongside As If Running On Air by David Colquhoun and Lovelock by James McNeish.
It promises to be yet another fascinating insight into one of the more intriguing sports figures of the 20th century.


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