When Irish lock David Gannon arrived in Invercargill in July he had never heard of the Ranfurly Shield.
It was only when he visited Southland captain Jamie Mackintosh's place during the first round of the national provincial rugby competition that he realised just what the "log of wood" meant to New Zealand rugby folk.
Otago were challenging for the Ranfurly Shield against Wellington and if Otago had won it Southland would have got a shot at it in Dunedin the following week.
By the end of that game Gannon was schooled up on the shield and now he is just a matter of two days away from having a chance to get his hands on it, which is something most rugby players in New Zealand have never been able to do.
"I actually didn't know anything about it when I got here but I know all about it now, it's exciting," he said.
"A few of the 1959 (Southland) team that won it last time had a talk to us on Friday night as well."
Rugby Southland recruited Gannon this year to bolster its locking stocks as they continue to try to develop some home-grown talent to fill the void in future years.
The 26-year-old lock has been contracted for only one year but hopes he may have shown enough to convince the Stags think tank to keep him on for 2010.
"I definitely want to come back but it's up to them whether I do, I guess."
Gannon is currently working through the possibilities, which could see him head back to Europe to play before returning to New Zealand in May in time for the southern hemisphere domestic season.
The former Irish under-20 player has spent most of the season watching from the bench as Josh Bekhuis and Joe Tuineau have started most games in the second row. Gannon has, however, shown enough to indicate Rugby Southland's move to recruit him this year wasn't a dud.
The fact that Gannon has chucked his name in the hat for a possible return next year also suggests he, too, is happy with the move.
"I thought the weather would be a lot worse than it has been.
"I came here with three jackets and lots of clothes but it's better than back home," he said.
- The Southland Times