Keane: Shield bid all about timing

Kieran Keane can tell his charges exactly what to expect in tomorrow night's Ranfurly Shield rugby challenge from Taranaki because he's been there and done that.

Keane, a former All Black, played over 80 matches for Canterbury during the 1970s-80s, featuring in several shield-winning teams and experiencing the downside of losing the log.

He sat on the subs bench during the Red and Blacks epic win over Wellington, when they ended a long shield drought, and was also on the bench when Canterbury lost it to Auckland in one of the great shield matches of all time at Lancaster Park in 1985.

Recalling the 1983 win when Wayne Smith's brilliant late try sealed victory, Keane said: "Alex [coach Alex Wyllie] never named the team until Friday and we played on Saturday. We went up there underdogs. It was a really enthralling game. We muffed a couple of chances but the heads never went down and we were just irrepressible on the day - that was a sign of the team we had."

Keane said with the game and the type of players having changed so much since then some of the things which happened then are not relevant, but some still are.

"It's a matter of gelling all those good things. Accepting we've got a challenge on our hands and how we deal with it is possibly the main focus for us this week.

"Keeping our boys up for it but not too up. It's about timing because we don't want them to play the game Friday. It's on Saturday."

Keane said the squad was full of excitment this week and really looking forward to the challenge. While he wouldn't be specific about tactics, he said they were trying to cover all eventualities.

"Taranaki have got size, they've got experience, X-factor. They've got everything really but that's all right, we've got our own too.

"The whole thing is to accept the challenge and climb into it."

The Marlborough Express