Thursday, 22 July 2010

I like the look of the Southland side for tonight’s second Ranfurly Shield defense against Wanganui.

And not in the way WHHHanganui mayor MicHHHael Laws would have us look at our beloved Stags. The gobby mayor, who’s admitted to wearing eye-liner, reckons our boys are poofs. While you’ve got to admire his ability to court controversy and pursue publicity, he’s drawing a long bow to suggest the likes of Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh and Chris King are “too poofy”.

Admittedly James Wilson could do with a haircut and without the hair straighteners, but I like the look of the problem-child of Southland rugby at second five-eighths. He reminded us of his prodigious talent in the North Otago challenge and he certainly has the size, power and pace to play in the midfield.

There will, no doubt, be a question mark over his defensive capabilities and to that end it will be interesting to see how he handles usual No. 8 Lasa Ulukuta thundering towards him tonight in the midfield.

Outside the mercurial Robbie Robinson, Wilson offers a real tactical kicking alternative as there are few better punters of the ball in the country. Throw in the express pace of Kenny Lynn at centre and this is the bones of a backline that will run Wanganui ragged.

Back to the loquacious Laws. Like him or loathe him, and the country seems to have a dollar each way on the subject, he reinforces the value of the celebrity mayor. Yes he’s outlandish, outspoken and sometimes downright embarrassing, but you’re never going to die wondering with Mayor Michael. I don’t think he’s ever had a dull grey thought in his life. He’s as black and white as they come and my distant observation would be he’s done a pretty good job of putting a small provincial city (if indeed Wanganui is one?) on the national map.

Invercargill has enjoyed the services of a celebrity mayor for the best part of the past two decades, with the exception of 1995-98 when Tim Shadbolt had three years off for bad behaviour. Like Laws, he’s a champion of self and city promotion, and his fiefdom has been the beneficiary.

On October 9, Mayor Tim is involved in a celebrity mayoral arm wrestle with former body-builder and singer Suzanne Prentice. About the time the results are announced, the Southland Stags will hopefully be kicking off their seventh defense of the Ranfurly Shield against the might of Canterbury having already got past North Otago, Wanganui, Otago, Counties Manakau, North Harbour and Auckland.

It promises to be a great night in Vegas. A win over Canterbury, a few consoling beers with Richie, Dan and Sonny Bill, a post-election party at either Tim or Suzanne’s place and a final defense of the Log of Wood against Wellington to look forward to.


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