Tasman confident of lifting Ranfurly Shield

Last updated 05:00 30/08/2012
James Marshall
FEARLESS: James Marshall in action for Taranaki.

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Expect Tasman to arrive at Yarrow Stadium with plenty of innovation and a fearless attitude.

That's the prediction from former Tasman first five-eighth James Marshall who is expected to line up for Taranaki against his old mates when they arrive to challenge for the Ranfurly Shield.

"I've been getting a few messages from some of them this week," he said.

The Tasman players were not short of confidence, either, especially after they knocked four-times defending champions Canterbury over 25-22 last Friday.

"They think they'll be taking the Shield back with them but I guess we'll see what happens on Saturday night," Marshall said.

Despite finishing last in the second tier of the national provincial championship last year, Tasman have never been a side low on self-belief.

That has usually transcended to their matches against Taranaki, despite having beaten them just once in seven attempts dating back to 2006.

"That win last week would have given them the world of confidence going into this," 23-year-old Marshall said.

"Since the Shield game was announced they have been training full-on, just for this game because it will make or break their season. They've had no day off this week, so they're going full bore just to win this game."

The Hurricanes development player was able to keep close tabs on what was happening in the Tasman camp through his brother, Crusaders fullback Tom Marshall, who would not be lining up for the challenge because of an ongoing shoulder problem.

Despite his younger sibling's absence, Marshall said veteran Tasman coach Kieran Keane and his assistant, former All Blacks fullback Leon Macdonald, would have devised some innovative tactics aimed at upsetting Taranaki.

"Kieran has always got a few sneaky ideas under his hat, especially for the big games and he would have put a lot of study into Taranaki for this game.

"I'll be trying to tell the Taranaki boys what to expect and what they will be trying to do but they probably don't want to read too much into what I say because knowing Kieran, you just don't know what to expect."

The focus for Taranaki early this week had been on their ruck defence, something Marshall said coach Colin Cooper was not happy with during their 37-22 opening round win over Bay of Plenty.

Marshall had not been "this excited about a game before" and was hoping that there was a spot either in the starting XV or the reserves.

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Both sides are due to name their squads today, with Cooper forced into at least one change after Andre Taylor was ruled out for at least a month with a hand injury he suffered at Mt Maunganui.

Meanwhile, Tasman are expected to name the same side that upset Canterbury.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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