Thursday, 29 April 2010

Tonight will be a real test of where the sporting passion of Southlanders lies. It’s the Highlanders versus the call of duck shooting.

On one hand you’ve got a brutal blood sport, where the prey is lined up and everyone takes a pot shot before the defenseless target is summarily executed. On the other hand you’ve got duck shooting.

Corny analogies aside, the Highlanders must collectively feel like the proverbial sitting duck in front of the maimai. Outwardly wanting to still appear calm and in control, inwardly paddling furiously under the water and knowing you’re about to be shot by an unforgiving public.

The irony of the hapless Highlanders’ season, and this won’t be lost on the hapless Glenn Moore, is the Highlanders have not played too badly this year if you excuse the inexcusable final ten minutes in Queenstown against the Force.

Despite the brave efforts of Josh Bekhuis and Hayden Triggs, no team can afford to lose a player of Tom Donnelly’s international standing. Likewise, the lack of Jamie Mackintosh’s calm head and on-field leadership has surely been another factor.

With away games to come against the Brumbies and the high-flying Reds, home advantage against the Waratahs tonight presents the best chance to salvage some pride from a season that promised much but delivered somewhat less.

With five Stags in the starting line-up and another five riding the pine, hopefully the prospect of welcoming some Ranfurly Shield heroes home to Rugby Park will be enough of a lure to delay the migration to the maimai.

* On a lighter note , one of the highlights for me every opening morning is to see what my duck shooting colleague, high-profile Invercargill lawyer John Norman Phillip Young, wears to the Riversdale maimai.

As I reiterate on an annual basis, he is a garish hybrid of Liberace and Rambo, with a hint of George Michael thrown in for good measure. I know he really gets off on wearing a wig in his day job as a Crown Prosecutor and duck shooting provides him with the perfect opportunity to indulge his fetish for getting dressed up.

This year our duck shooting crew includes a doctor, two farmers, a stock agent, yours truly and a new recruit from Perth with the unenviable nickname of Hideous! Plus, of course, our resident QC. And he is.
And I can’t wait!


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