As I write this I’m contemplating whether to go and watch Otago battle Taranaki, or spend a quiet night-in watching Coronation Street.
I realize that’s a sad indictment on my life, but think about it, there could easily be more action on Coro than Carisbrook. Ken Barlow, despite his advancing years, has displayed more penetration in recent times than the Otago midfield and Dev Alahan’s untimely naked unveiling probably drew a bigger crowd than recent attendances at the ‘Brook.
All jesting aside, Otago rugby now finds itself in the unenviable position Southland was in ten years ago and the road to Damascus for Phil Mooney and David Latta is not without its potholes.
There’s a lack of locally-nurtured talent, most of the imports are not performing and the team has forgotten how to win a game, especially the close ones. Remind you of the Stags of the late 1990s?
In the past Southland supporters would probably have taken some smug satisfaction from Big Brother Otago’s misfortunes. But the little brother has had a growth spurt and can now beat up the older sibling in the back yard brawl. They are now equals, brothers in arms, in a common fight.
That fight is to save the ailing Highlanders. Jamie Joseph and Simon Culhane are a good start. So I think I’ll forgo Coro Street for Burns Street and do my bit. I hope I have some company!
* Continuing the fight theme, while Grant Beardsley v Aaron Smith at the Fight for Kidz promises to be the best scrap, there’s no doubting the most entertaining will be the feature bout between Jeremy Winders and Brendan Laney.
Winders and Laney are genial, jovial and thoroughly likeable blokes. Former Otago legend and Scottish rugby international Laney has a boxing background. As a teenager he fought out of the Temuka club. In the case of Winders, he’s as tough as old boots, having played much of his rugby career as a lightweight flanker for the Stags.
There’s a certain irony in the fact that Winders has reportedly shed 14 kilograms of beer belly to get in shape for the bout, as he would have killed for some of that weight when he was competing with the Henderson twins for a spot in the Stags.