Fearless pair ready to give all for Shield
On the field they paint the picture of fearless Canterbury hard men who throw themselves head first into every challenge, yet off the field Ben Funnell and Joe Moody could not be more opposite.
Quietly spoken, unassuming and relatively bashful, the pair are a stark contrast to their rugby-playing selves.
Moody is a noted enforcer, his wrestling background as a New Zealand representative makes him a fearless warrior across the paddock, and his deceptive pace makes him a handful on attack.
And Funnell works his way around the paddock like a fox terrier, nipping away at the defence line and digging his way through tackles to break the advantage line.
When the pair sauntered over to face media following training on Thursday neither looked completely sure of themselves, but the same common desire burned in both sets of eyes.
And that is to make sure the Ranfurly Shield is on the plane home with them tomorrow after Canterbury's encounter with Taranaki at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
“It's my first Ranfurly Shield challenge and I'm really looking forward to it and just hoping I can bring it home," Moody said.
“I remember all the hype around it when I was growing up and how Canterbury winning the shield was such a huge thing so I will be doing my best help bring it back here."
Funnell gained a short experience with the shield early last season before Canterbury lost it to Southland so knows what rugby when the Log O' Wood is concerned is all about.
But there is an added pressure on the young hooker's shoulders this time round. Corey Flynn's calf injury has opened a door for him as coach Tabai Matson's first choice No 2, and Funnell is looking forward to it.
And the prospect of a challenge against players he grew up playing schoolboy rugby with and against only adds to that appeal.
“The fact it's a shield match means it's something you just have to try to keep simple. There are always a few nerves but you need to keep telling yourself it's just another game," he said.
Moody turned heads during last week's 20-12 win over Wellington at Addington when playing a leading role in the first try of the second half.
The 1.88 metre prop, 112kg, found himself in a bit of space after a turnover and instead of offloading he took off down the flanks leaving some embarrassed chasers.
After a 50-metre stroll Moody drew in the fullback with a well-timed pass to Tom Taylor before Telusa Veainu crashed over in the corner.
“I surprised myself a bit, I caught the ball and saw all the open space so I just went for it.
“There has been a bit of a joke going round this week that I'm going to shift to the centres and sub out Robbie Fruean, but I'm not so sure about that."
- © Fairfax NZ News