OPINION: The Stags 34-23 win over Bay of Plenty was a great way to start the season last Friday night.
You would have to go back to the magical season of 2010 to find the last time the Stags won their first match of the season.
Over the past three years, Stags teams have started seasons slowly, so to bank four competition points after round one has given the guys a lot of confidence.
Since coach Brad Mooar first arrived in town back in February he has talked about wanting to see the Stags adopt a more attacking style of play.
Southland teams have always been seen as forward-oriented and always a physical test up front. Most opposition coaches would probably be comfortable in saying the Stags were somewhat limited in what they could do with the rugby ball.
However, hopefully what you saw last Friday was a snippet of what we are trying to achieve when we have the ball in hand this season. Although it was far from perfect, with a high error count in the first 20 minutes, at times we executed exactly how we wanted to.
The little patches of good attacking rugby we produced are the product of seven months of hard work on raising skill levels.
As I touched on last week, a large focus of pre-season training this year was based on catch and pass under pressure.
As the season goes on we are endeavouring to keep working on improving ourselves from game to game.
The first test of our weekly progression will be tonight when in the latte-land of the North Shore we take on a North Harbour side hurting after losing to Otago last week.
Last week was special for several new members of the Stags squad who gained their first cap.
Bill Fukofuka, Lima Sopoaga, Mark Jackman, Otulea Katoa, Lolohea Loco, Dillon Halaholo, Tony Keresoma, Michael Stewart and Jamie Verran were all presented with their tie for their first match.
Although these guys were not born and bred Southlanders, they have bought into what playing for the Stags is all about and are keen to excel in a Stags jersey this season.
Part of building a culture within the team this season has evolved around why each of the guys played rugby and what and who they were motivated to play for. For some of the boys it's to make their friends and family proud, for some it is to play for the people of Southland, some play to help look after their families financially while, for others, it is simply a stepping stone to achieving their rugby dreams.
For all the different reasons we play rugby, we have drawn all of our individual motivations together for the cause of doing the Stags jersey proud.
Scott Eade will start at halfback tonight for the Stags against North Harbour.
- The Southland Times