Dixon back and keen to atone for Southland
Stags No 8 Elliot Dixon did it tough as a spectator last weekend.
He was sitting out a one-game suspension for a dangerous tackle in the opening round loss to Tasman and found watching his team-mates' 13-9 loss to Northland in Whangarei hard to stomach for several reasons.
First, it was one of the worst performances Southland has put in for some time.
As a spectacle it was no beauty pageant either and, to make matters worse, one of the few Stags players to come out of the game with their stocks raised was the man who replaced Dixon at the boot of the scrum, Hale T-Pole.
"I wasn't too happy. I was a bit gutted for the boys really, I'd let the team down [with my suspension] but I wasn't really going in there with malice or anything like that," Dixon said.
"Live and learn, I suppose, I'll just get on with it this week, hopefully make the team and hopefully get one under the belt versus the Naki."
Dixon's one-week ban was an exception. He'd never received a card before having to front the judiciary via a video conference last week, and his good record meant that what was initially going to be a two-week suspension was halved.
That was scant consolation as he watched the Northland game from Invercargill on Saturday.
"I was frustrated watching it, not being able to do anything about the result. I suppose losing just adds on to that, so I'm pretty hungry this week."
T-Pole's strong form had been noted, Dixon said.
"It'll be hard to get back into [the team], but I'm fresh. During the week off I've been able to do some of the rehab that I've wanted to do, so that's good."
As a member of the team, and a recent spectator, Dixon is as well placed as anyone to explain what's happened to the Stags during their winless start to the NPC.
"We had everything [against Northland]. Our set piece was going pretty good. Our lineout, we stole or disrupted pretty much all their ball and I think it was just when we got down to their end of the field we didn't convert on our chances. Looking back at the tape for our work-ons, it's about having the accuracy and the confidence to put it all on the park."
The Stags play Taranaki - another team still searching for its first win of the season - in Invercargill on Saturday night.
"I think we'll work hard this week and it should be a lot better against the ‘Naki," Dixon said.
"I suppose it's like the season we had up the road [at the Highlanders]. We know we've got the potential and we are close to it."
The Southland Times