Canterbury-Auckland rivalry diluted - Mauger
The old enmity between Canterbury and Auckland fans may be done and dusted, according to Aaron Mauger.
The two rugby provinces lock horns in two separate - men's and women's - finals tomorrow in Christchurch.
Such an occasion would have generated plenty of hostility in years gone by. But Mauger says the rivalry is less intense because of Auckland's dwindling stocks in the past decade.
"Auckland hasn't been as dominant recently as what they once were," he said.
"It probably still means the same for some of the older guys, but for the younger ones they just aren't the force that they used to be.
"So it's been up to guys like Andy Ellis, George Whitelock and Wyatt Crockett to help install that in the players this week."
Whether Auckland perceive his comment as a slight remains to be seen. But the former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks midfielder speaks from a unique perspective.
He has been a vital cog in the success of the Canterbury squad this year as they drive for their fifth consecutive national title.
His role with the backline has proved effective, although some would argue that anyone could make a backline of the calibre of Canterbury's look good.
"There is the expectation that they should be performing the way that they are and I suppose it looks good when they are scoring lots of tries.
"I've really enjoyed this season so far though. The backline are doing a good job and they all listen, which makes my job really easy.
"But it hasn't been easy. We have had limited backs to choose from all year due to injuries."
So from a man who knows full well what the wrath of Auckland can feel like, what's it going to take to beat the boys from north of the Bombays?
"We have to match them physically; they are a very physical side who are confident. If we can stop them [going] forward early in the game, we should be able to slow them down a bit and get into the rhythm of the game."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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