Marcel Cummings-Toone describes last week's Ranfurly Shield win as one of the best games he's ever played in.
Like a number of players from that outstanding effort he was forced to rest an injury (tight calf) last Saturday in the away game against Counties Manukau but the hooker is back with a vengeance for Waikato's last match of the season and he has no intention of being part of a team that undoes all last week's good work.
Waikato defend the Log o' Wood against Hawke's Bay on Saturday with the knowledge that ITM Cup premiership semifinals are out of reach, relegation to the championship has been averted and they can concentrate wholly on the Ranfurly Shield with the chance to lock it away for the summer.
Cummings-Toone is still savouring last week's performance in New Plymouth.
"It's one of the best games I've been involved in and watching it on TV [later] it looked as good as it felt out there," he said.
"Everything we tried went well and, I guess, that was just how hard we worked to get that quick ball and our plan worked.
"We couldn't have been more happy with how that went obviously. When the momentum is going your way, the bounce of the ball goes your way as well."
But he can relate to how Taranaki felt losing the shield and does not want to experience the same thing on Saturday.
"We're under no illusions as to how Hawke's Bay are going to come out. They're still fighting to stay in the top division and, while I know they've got a game tomorrow night, we're looking at it as the shield being half ours and half theirs and we have to go and win it again."
Cummings-Toone admits to frustration that last week's huge lift in performance came too late in the season to get Waikato into the playoffs.
"We knew we had that game in us so it's a wee bit frustrating but also it's good going forward, because we've got a lot of young guys who will still be around and we've shown that if we trust our game plan it works."
The hooker was proud of how the so-called second stringers took Waikato to come-from-behind victory against Counties-Manukau at Pukekohe when he and a number of others were unable to play due to injuries.
He is also still managing a bulging disc that flared up last season and took another knock in Wellington a few weeks ago but he is good to go on Saturday.
Cummings-Toone admits the set-pieces have been a mixed bag for Waikato this season with the scrum generally strong but the lineouts inconsistent.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should Sonny Bill Williams stuck to rugby and come back to the Chiefs?Related story: (See story)