Con­fi­dence a must in shield clash

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ERIN TASKER

When Mid Can­ter­bury last hosted Can­ter­bury in a Ran­furly Shield chal­lenge in 2002, a vir­tu­ally un­heard of young lad from South­bridge ran rings around them.

The fol­low­ing year, that young player made his All Blacks de­but, and went on to be­come the All Blacks’ most capped first-five. That player was Daniel Carter, and the play­ers who had the job of try­ing to con­tain him knew he had a big fu­ture ahead of him.

Ja­son Gill was Mid Can­ter­bury cap­tain that day, and his mem­ory of the game is hazy, but he re­mem­bers it be­ing tough, and he re­mem­bers Carter.

‘‘I do re­mem­ber that Dan Carter tore us to bits,’’ Gill said.

‘‘I just re­mem­ber tack­ling re­ally, pretty much for most of the game.’’

Mid Can­ter­bury put up a good fight early on, but by full time it had blown out to 78-10. But, for the Mid Can­ter­bury play­ers who turned out and the 2500 peo­ple who watched on from the side­lines at the Ash­bur­ton Show­grounds, it was a day to re­mem­ber. Now, the Mid Can­ter­bury team of 2017 is pre­par­ing for their own chal­lenge on home soil. Mid Can­ter­bury will host the chal­lenge on Fri­day Au­gust 4, at 2.35pm at the Ash­bur­ton Show­grounds.

In the crowd will be a num­ber of play­ers who played in that last home chal­lenge 15 years ago, Gill in­cluded.

He said cap­tain­ing Mid Can­ter­bury in a shield chal­lenge was a ca­reer high­light.

‘‘We knew what we were go­ing to be up against, and I re­mem­ber ev­ery­one say­ing ‘you just have to get into them in the first 10 min­utes’,’’ Gill said.

‘‘We al­ways went into games with a thought that we could win it on the day. You’ve got to put your best foot for­ward.’’

John El­lis also played that day, and said if Mid Can­ter­bury could stick with Can­ter­bury for the first 30 min­utes on Fri­day, they were in with a chance. He urged the play­ers to keep it sim­ple, and re­mem­ber they might only get one crack at the Ran­furly Shield, so they needed to en­sure they gave it their best shot.

He said there would be nerves, and adrenalin would be flow­ing; he re­mem­bers that feel­ing.

‘‘I re­mem­ber we started off pretty well and then I just think their size, speed and skill level took over,’’ El­lis said.

‘‘We came out with a bit of adrenalin and thought we would take it to th­ese city slick­ers and teach them a les­son.’’

Jar­rod Ross was also in the squad, and he re­mem­bers that con­fi­dence, in­stilled in them by their coach.

‘‘We had a coach from Auck­land called Nigel Mar­shall and he had the the­ory we were go­ing to am­bush Can­ter­bury; that was his motto,’’ Ross said.

‘‘The night be­fore we had a bit of train­ing and then he bussed us up to Pud­ding Hill Re­sort for the night, which I couldn’t get my head around; the home team ac­tu­ally had to travel fur­ther than the away team.’’

But af­ter a stel­lar 2001 where they earned them­selves the right to stay in the then NPC di­vi­sion two, Mid Can­ter­bury did have high hopes, Ross said.

‘‘I guess ev­ery team that chal­lenges for the shield thinks they have a shot at it, and I think we thought it was go­ing to be the best shot we’d get, but it wasn’t meant to be,’’ Ross said.

Ross was a re­serve prop, and by the time he en­tered the fray about 10 min­utes into the sec­ond half, the game was al­ready gone. But he knew that it was his one shot at the shield, and he was de­ter­mined to give it his all.

‘‘You’ve just got to imag­ine it’s your last game and give it ev­ery­thing,’’ Ross said.

He re­mem­bers as a boy, fin­ish­ing school early to watch Mid Can­ter­bury take on the the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions in 1983 – his dad, for­mer All Black Jock Ross, was in the Mid Can­ter­bury team – and would love to see schools let their stu­dents out early for Fri­day’s match, and for em­ploy­ers to let em­ploy­ees head along.

What­ever the out­come, it’ll be a great game, he said.

‘‘I’m hop­ing that they will give it a fair shot. It would be one hell of an ef­fort to win it, but stranger things have hap­pened on a rugby field, like Ja­pan beat­ing South Africa at the last World Cup – who would’ve picked that?’’

DAVID HALLETT

John El­lis (front) and Re­gan Johns head onto the field for the 2002 Ran­furly Shield chal­lenge against Can­ter­bury.

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