Makos put the bite on Magpies

JOE WHEELER
Last updated 11:02 20/08/2014
Kelsi Fitzpatrick
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
QUICK OUT OF THE BLOCKS: Joe Wheeler crosses the try line and heads behind the posts to score the Tasman Makos’ first try after just one minute at Lansdowne Park on Sunday.

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There was a good feeling in the sheds after we put the bite on the Magpies in Blenheim on Sunday. It was a great way for the team to start the season.

It's always good to beat the Magpies because we've developed a bit of rivalry over the years and, for me, it was great to score the opening try of the season after 60 seconds.

That means I've crossed off the season-ending "nudie run" for the boys who haven't scored a try all season - not bad to get that out of the way in the first game, especially as it took me about 30 caps before I scored my first try for the Makos.

The guys were pretty rapt with the win because we had a few nerves heading into the game. We felt a little undercooked after only being together for six days.

That will give us a bit of confidence and something to build on. We need to keep getting the little things right, avoid getting complacent and improve from here because if we don't build on it, one win will mean nothing.

The atmosphere at Lansdowne Park was excellent and, of course, it's always great weather in Marlborough. Not that I'm biased at all. There was a little breeze, it was slightly cloudy and it was a perfect day to play rugby on an immaculate pitch. They'd done a good job with the corporate marquees, there was a good crowd in the stands and because the stands are so close to the ground, it always sounds like the crowd is even bigger.

The crowd got in behind us and got stuck into the Magpies and into referee Glen Jackson. My family were all there, including my grandparents from Christchurch, my partner's parents were there and up on the north bank, where my mates park up, they were getting a few triple-stars down their necks and getting a bit rowdy.

On Monday we had a day off but the senior players got together to look at things we might want to tweak. That group includes captain Shane Christie, vice captains Tom Marshall and myself, old hands Alex Ainley, Quentin MacDonald and Jimmy Cowan and newer guys Keiron Fonotia and Liam Squire, along with the Killer Whale, Tevita Koloamatangi, who keeps us all in line.

We're all looking forward to heading to Tauranga to take on Bay of Plenty of Sunday - it's always easy to turn up for work when you're going to win.

Keep it deep and keep it on.

Tasman Makos lock Joe Wheeler will contribute a weekly column during Tasman's NPC campaign.

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- The Marlborough Express

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