Southlanders' loyalty spurs Sharks

SAYING THANKS: Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare.
SAYING THANKS: Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare.

Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare said the reception his team received at the Southland Sports Awards on Friday night helped spur them on to get the job done against the Taranaki Mountain Airs in Invercargill on Sunday.

The Sharks National Basketball League team had been put under the microscope last week after an incident in New Plymouth that resulted in three of their players being arrested for assault.

It was a team that came under fire for their actions off the court and on Sunday night they responded to put some positive light back on the organisation with a hard-fought 101-86 win over Taranaki Mountain Airs.

"It was something we spoke about as a team, to come out and repay the faith the Southland community has shown in us," Henare said.

"We had our first public appearance at the Southland Sports Awards on Friday night and we [got] a good reception there. It gave the guys confidence I guess, to come out and hold our heads high with what we wanted to do."

While Henare was devastated and frustrated as a result of the New Plymouth incident, he said it had enhanced his love of Southland.

"Southland has been really good to me," he said.

"A big part in why I wanted to play is I wanted to do my part for Southland and show how much the club means to me by doing whatever I can to get us through some tough times."

Soon after the final whistle, Henare grabbed the microphone to address the 2130 supporters who turned out on Sunday night - the second-largest turnout of the season.

He thanked them for sticking by his team, which they could have easily turned their backs on as a result of what happened in New Plymouth.

The Southland Times