Tana Umaga says Counties Manukau will bring far more home to Pukekohe today than just the Ranfurly Shield.
The former All Blacks captain spoke passionately after his side's historic 27-24 win over Hawke's Bay of the pride and belief he hoped their achievement would instil in South Auckland's communities.
To the Counties head coach, the effects of a match won on self belief and pride will spread far beyond the confines of McLean Park in Napier.
"I've achieved a few things in my career, when we won the NPC for Wellington in 2000, the Lions [series] in 2005, my first All Black cap obviously, and now this," Umaga told Fairfax Media from the Steelers changing room.
"In terms of rugby this is one of the biggest things I've done and I didn't even do much.
"These guys did something for something much bigger than ourselves.
"We'd seen what the Shield has done for Dunedin and Napier and Hastings and those areas, well, we represent South Auckland and we wanted something positive for that area to come out of this.
"Our boys stood up and showed belief in themselves. I just want all the kids in our area to see that and to be inspired to achieve in their lives."
Umaga's words were far more than politically correct speak. They came from the heart of a man who has taken his new provincial home to heart.
Today the man known to his players as "The Master" will become the first coach to bring the famous Log o‘ wood back to the Franklin County.
The union has not held the shield since its formation in 1955, but after 24 failed challenges the monkey is finally off the team's back.
Soon their collective thoughts will turn to their first defence, against Taranaki in Pukekohe next Sunday.
But for now they will revel in a victory for never giving up, one epitomised by captain and No 8 Fritz Lee, who bravely turned down a simple shot at goal with 20 minutes to play.
"I just told the boys we have nothing to lose," Lee said after the match. "We may as well take it to them and apply pressure to them, they have everything to lose, they have the shield so the pressure is on them."
Lee said the side had not had a training run since their midweek loss to Auckland, but had never wavered in their belief they could achieve history.
"I went out there and played for my family. It's hard to describe how I feel right now, we're expecting some big crowds back in Puke [Pukekohe]."
The Steelers will be welcomed as heroes and none more so than the three tryscorers, Sherwin Stowers and reserves Sean Reidy and Sikeli Naubo.
Stowers was the difference between the two sides, an ever-present threat at fullback who scored his side's first half try and sparked their revival when they fell behind 24-17 with 11 minutes to play.
Replacement Patumahoe openside Reidy crossed out wide for the sixth lead change of the match to make it 24-22 with nine on the clock, then lock/flanker Naubo in his 20th match stormed to the corner with four minutes to play.
Naubo was beaming after full time, reflecting on a journey from Fiji on scholarship to Hamilton Boys High School, then to Ardmore to live with his uncle.
"These guys love playing for their community, they love the Steelers, that's what we are trying to build on and I think it came through today," Umaga said.
Counties Manukau 27 (Sherwin Stowers, Sean Reidy, Sikeli Nabou tries; Baden Kerr 4 pens) Hawke's Bay 24 (Gillies Kaka, Mark Atkins tries; Ihaia West con, 4 pens). HT: 14-16
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