Sharks back on court to face the Mountain Airs
The Sharks basketball team are public enemy No 1 in Taranaki at the moment, adding intrigue to the battle of the provinces when the two teams meet next in a National Basketball League game.
Three Southland players were arrested early on Sunday morning and charged with assault after an incident in New Plymouth.
It has resulted in outrage from many Taranaki people, who have voiced their disgust towards Southland - mainly through social media.
"I would be so embarrassed if I was from Southland," Karmel Waiariki said.
Darnie Taiapo said earlier this week: "No Apology to Taranaki for the behaviour displayed and yet one of these thugs represents NZ? Stay in southland I say."
Taranaki Mountain Airs manager Mick McBeth said while there was plenty of discontent around the Sharks in his region, his team would not be using it as motivation for Sunday's return game in Invercargill.
"There is a lot being said around the public at the moment but we're not buying into it," McBeth said.
"We are feeling for Southland more than anything, and for Paulie [Henare] with what he has had to go through. It is not easy and we would hate for us to be in that situation.
"A few individuals did it and it's not a reflection on Southland as a whole, I think."
McBeth has voiced his disappointment in the Sharks snubbing the aftermatch function in New Plymouth on Saturday but confirmed yesterday that the Sharks had invited them to a function in Invercargill on Sunday, and they would attend.
Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger was unsure how many Southlanders would turn up to support the team on Sunday night.
"There has been some positive stuff from people saying ‘we are still there for the team' but I suppose the ones you don't hear from, you don't know what they are thinking."
The Southland Times