Only a loss took gloss off trip

21:59, Sep 19 2013

After a week soaking up the Mt Maunganui sun, it was time to head back home, to finish off what you could say is a job half done.

The tourist hotspot turned on several days of warm weather during our stay, allowing some of the team to try and tan up a little on the sandy beaches.

The disappointment of losing to Manawatu last Friday hurt the team.

The first two days post game included a lot of individual accountability and soul searching.

The attitude and character displayed against Waikato the previous week seemed to evaporate when we took to the field in Palmerston North.

Some harsh truths were spoken by players and management.

There is no excusing performances that lack attitude.

With the short turnaround against the Bay on Wednesday, we had just one training run to right the wrongs of the previous week.

In some ways Wednesday's win restored some of the attitude and hunger. Being on the wrong side of a lopsided penalty count, and with the ball not quite bouncing our way for periods of the match, we could have folded trailing 25-13 halfway through the second half.

But the team showed heart, something we all knew we had within ourselves.

With the added impact from our reserves bench, some of whom who had fire in their bellies from patchy performances the week before, we managed to roll over them in the last 15 minutes to claim a much needed win.

Win on Sunday against North Harbour and we put ourselves in a great position to kick on and make a good run towards the playoffs.

Lose and we will end up near the foot of the table again, scrapping it out to sneak into the semis.

Spending the week at the Mount in some ways helped the group become more tightknit than ever.

It gave the guys a chance to get to know each other outside of rugby, learn what makes each other tick and get to know any habits people have - both the good, and the not so good.

As well as becoming more familiar with team-mates, the tour was a great opportunity to see how members of the management team operated on tour.

It would be fair to say the players picked up several trends within the management group.

Trainer Mark Beer was quickly nicknamed "duckling" by his colleagues for continually waddling along behind the highly professional and experienced medical duo of doctor Peter Finlayson and physio Karl McDonald.

According to several of the management, Beer was constantly seen lagging behind when it came to having a "quiet" beer or picking the right horse on the track.

Manager Glenn Morrison was given the nickname "Neville Wong" by the touring group for his ability to never be wrong (in his eyes) when it came to confusion around meal times, meeting times, and dress codes during the trip.

We also learnt backs coach Mark Ozich isn't afraid of filling his plate at meal times.

He says from today he is back into training mode.

As a team we would like to thank our bus drivers, the liaison staff from the Manawatu and Bay of Plenty rugby unions, along with the hotel staff in both Palmerston North and Mount Maunganui, for making our week off the field enjoyable and easy.

There was always more than enough food at meal times to keep the boys happy and nothing seemed a problem.


The Southland Times