North Harbour no lost cause - hooker Parsons

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2014
James Parsons
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HARBOUR HOOKER: James Parsons.

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North Harbour may have lost both their games this season, but hooker James Parsons says this campaign is far from a lost cause.

Harbour have long been a sleeping giant in New Zealand provincial rugby. While they have the fourth biggest player base, NPC results have been terrible in recent years.

But although they've suffered defeats to Otago (28-14) and Southland (25-21) this year, Parsons says they're heading in the right direction and steadily building.

"We were much better this week than last week. We were poor at the breakdown against Otago and got shown up," Parsons told Sunday News.

"It was a step in the right direction, but . . . we need to be more clinical in these little skills and get the wins.

"It's frustrating, and we sound like a broken record, but we are doing everything we can."

Parsons says this year's coach, Steve Jackson, who previously did well coaching the forwards at Counties Manukau, has looked to shake things up. He's brought a fresh approach, while reconnecting the players to the province's history.

"He has brought a lot of passion, a lot of emotion and heart into our team," Parsons said.

"We've spent a lot of time with the old boys. A lot of the players here aren't from Harbour but they've got to know the history and where it all started.

"So there is a really good sense of unity from the top down, which is a good change. We're all connected and we're all after the one goal, and if we can get a few wins in a row we can get a bit of confidence and then get into our season."

Parsons isn't the Harbour captain this year, with that honour being passed to halfback Bryn Hall. Free of that responsibility, he's able to concentrate on his game and the Blues hooker says he's pleased with his current form.

"I'm really happy, I'm showing a lot of energy and trying to keep in the game," he said.

"I'm enjoying worrying about myself and nailing my stuff. Set pieces are going good, Hayden Triggs is operating the lineout well and making it easy for me.

"Against Southland I got a few carries, a few metres under my belt and making my tackles. So I'm doing my core roles well and the main thing is for me to try to put my hand up for the ultimate goal, which is the black jersey."

Two key recruitments for Harbour this season are lock Triggs and former Stag fullback Robbie Robinson. They have helped bring a maturity to a side that would otherwise be short of players with Super Rugby experience, and Parsons says the union is already reaping the benefits of these two key acquisitions.

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"You can see what Robbie has done for our backs. He brings heaps of organisation, he's focused on getting out of our half and directing them around.

"Triggsy really brings a hard edge and experience, he knows how to slow things down and play things at our pace, which is good for the young kids."

- Sunday News

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