Bugs versus the HighlandersNATHAN BURDON
@Nathan Burdon Decisions on where stories are placed in the newspaper and how they are treated are influenced by all sorts of factors.
Arguably the biggest factor comes down to public interest.
In the sports pages this is not usually the journalistic standard of ''public interest'', but more what is of interest to the public.
For this reason rugby gets a large share (much more of a share than it deserves, some woud argue) of attention.
It's a numbers game.If 5000 people show up to watch the Stags play at Rugby Park, then it follows that we will give them a decent splash in the paper during the week.
If 5000 people were showing up to watch two bugs climbing a wall at Wachner Place, we'd have to start doing profiles, previews and reviews of them as well.
But just how much attention should we be giving the Highlanders?
In today's franchise-contracted age, the Super Rugby teams are their own universe.Southland, geographically, lies within the Highlanders catchment area, but Southland players are just as likely to play for the Chiefs, the Blues, the 'Canes or the Crusaders.
In fact, the Highlanders team which beat the Blues in the opening round did not have a Stags player in the starting 15.This season, and for the forseeable future, the Highlanders won't be sighted in Invercargill, although they did play a preseason game in Queenstown.
And it's a long way to Dunedin to watch a game.It might even be possible to drive to Invercargill aiport, get on a plane and fly to Christchurch, get in a car and drive to a Crusaders game, in the time it takes to get yourself from Esk St to Dunedin Stadium.
Sounds like an episode of Top Gear, I know.
Despite all that, the Highlanders are really all we've got.
Unless there's a major tectonic shift, we will remain part of the franchise area.And there's a chance that this team will turn at some stage.
For much of my adult life, the Chiefs were a bit of a joke in Super Rugby, and now they've got the entire competition trying to pick apart what makes them so good.
If the Chiefs, who were quite awful for a very long time, can turn things around and win two championships, there's no reason why the Highlanders can't.In the mean time, do you care about the Highlanders?
Do you want to read about them, or would you prefer something else?
Perhaps more on those two bugs at Wachner Place.