Jamie Mackintosh rapt for Otago, for now
Some of his good mates up the road are enjoying a high point in their rugby careers and Jamie Mackintosh is closing in on a significant milestone of his own, but his focus remains on getting Southland's first win of the season against Taranaki tonight.
Mackintosh is close friends with Ranfurly Shield-winning Otago lock Tom Donnelly and during the Super Rugby season got to know some of the Highlanders' younger Otago brigade: Hugh Blake, Tony Ensor and, in particular, Hayden Parker.
"It's been interesting but I am really rapt for some of the guys in the [Otago] organisation that I've got a lot of time for, especially Tom Donnelly," Mackintosh said.
"He's had a big career with Otago and the Highlanders and he sort of got shafted by the Highlanders and he probably thought he was never going to play for the region again. For him to come back and play for Otago and win the shield, I was rapt for him."
Mackintosh was also pleased for his former Highlanders team-mate, now Otago coach, Tony Brown, who will be trying to plot a successful shield defence against Hawke's Bay tomorrow.
"I've had a lot to do with him, and if there's a guy that bleeds blue and gold, it's Brownie. I was so rapt for him to have that on his coaching resume . . . I'm sure it meant the world to him."
However, this is Otago we are talking about, and Mackintosh's generosity extends only as far as Otago holding the shield long enough for Southland to get a crack at it in Dunedin in a few weeks. "It was good for them to experience that but, at the same time, it always itches a wee bone knowing our old mates have got the shield.
"I am rapt for them and I hope they hold it for two games so we can see them at Forsyth Barr. We've had our time and it was pretty special and I'm sure they felt a little bit jealous then as well. That's just natural when there's that kind of rivalry."
Which leads us to Mackintosh's date with destiny.
The Stags skipper will play his 96th game for the province tonight, and could become a centurion against North Harbour at home next month, joining contemporaries Jason Rutledge and Jimmy Cowan.
"To be honest, I think when I have a bit of quiet time to myself - when I'm in the truck or out on the farm - I think about it. I don't really think about it week to week because I just want to prepare the team and prepare myself. It's such a fickle game that it's an injury away from not happening . . . I'm really excited but I'm more focused at the moment on the team and the little things in my game that I need to get right."
The issues that have contributed to Southland's 0-2 start to the season have been picked over like last night's roast.
Mackintosh believes the team are doing most things right, except for finishing off the opportunities they've worked so hard to create.
Away from the field, the team has come together well, rediscovering a harmony that had been missing for a season or so.
Now it's time to get some reward.
"I just want to win so these boys can believe in what we do," he said.
"It's just not far away. I've got huge belief that we are going to be fine."
What: Southland v Taranaki, Rugby Park, 7.35 tonight.
Southland: Robbie Robinson, Gareth Williams-Spiers, Bryan Milne, Cardiff Vaega, Tim Cornforth, Scott Eade, Tayler Adams, Elliot Dixon, Tim Boys, John Hardie, Michael Fatialofa, Josh Bekhuis, Nick Barrett, David Hall, Jamie Mackintosh (c). Reserves: Talemaitoga Tuapati, Tuki Raimona, Hale T-Pole, Naulia Dawai, Nemia Kenatale, Willis Halaholo, Marty McKenzie.
Taranaki: Kurt Baker, Jackson Ormond, Andre Taylor, Isaia Tuifua, Waisake Naholo, Daniel Brooks, Chris Smylie, Blade Thomson, Berny Hall, Kane Barrett (c), James Broadhurst, Jarrad Hoeata, Shane Cleaver, Rhys Marshall, Carl Carmichael. Reserves: Timo Tutavaha, Sione Lea, Nemia Soqeta, Mitchell Crosswell, Jamison Gibson-Park, Rick McKenna, Seta Tamanivalu. Referee: Shane McDermott.
Assistant referees: Kirk Rae and Peter Wilkinson. TMO: Mike Bowman
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