Cardiff Vaega stays loyal to Stags
Cardiff Vaega plans to repay a debt to Southland rugby after securing a Super Rugby contract with the Hurricanes for next season.
Vaega was coming off contract with Rugby Southland, and was being encouraged in some quarters to consider changing provinces after two years with the Stags.
But Vaega has not only enjoyed his time in Invercargill, he's also keen to give something back after the union helped get him to this stage in his career.
"I came off contract this year, but decided to sign on for another year next year. There were a lot of people in my ear asking if I wanted to move away, but I thought it was right to return the favour to Southland for giving me my first opportunity out of school. I enjoy it down here, but I'm also being loyal and returning what they gave to me."
Vaega has been one of the better performers in a Southland team that has been consistent in its inconsistency.
After winning four of 10 games in the round-robin, including a disappointing tilt at the Ranfurly Shield against Counties Manukau last Friday, they head to Blenheim for an NPC championship semifinal against table-topping Tasman on Saturday.
"Semifinals is different footy, everyone turns up with a different mentality - a mentality to win, a mentality to showcase the best rugby that they can," Vaega said.
"It's good because no one wanted to finish on the note that we did last week. We want to make amends this week and hopefully do the province proud."
Southland will be a heavy underdog against Tasman, who they lost to 25-15 in the opening round of the competition.
"There are no expectations other than your own and your coaches'," Vaega said.
"At the start of the season we played them with a lot of new combinations. They are still playing a similar game plan, but they have expanded their game plan. We are going to try and shut down the areas that we didn't shut down when we played them and bring a bit more oomph to shut down the X-factor they have."
Southland's best performance of the season was arguably the win over Otago three weeks ago.
It's a game the Stags will look to draw on against Tasman.
"That's pretty much the blueprint for our season, that Otago game," Vaega said.
"We showed New Zealand what we could do when we have the ball in hand and what we are capable of at our best. We will look to go up there with an attacking mentality and also with an offensive defensive mentality as well, to get them on to the back foot."
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