Taranaki still have to win Log o' Wood in Wednesday's game, Cooper says
Taranaki may have the Ranfurly Shield sitting beside the field as they train but that doesn't mean they own it, coach Colin Cooper says.
Cooper ran the team through their drills in front of a small crowd of supporters during an open training on Monday afternoon, as the Log o' Wood sat in the grass on the side of Yarrow Stadium's number two pitch.
"The mind set is to really challenge for the shield again," Cooper said after the training.
"No one owns the shield, no one owns it.
"You just happen to have won it and now we've got to win it again but the good thing is it's in our home, our back yard in front of our fans."
Taranaki won the shield for the first time since 2011 in a thrilling match against Canterbury on Friday night.
About 100 supporters of all ages turned out in the sunshine to watch Monday's training while also taking the chance to get a photo with the trophy.
Cooper was hopeful there would be a high level of support on Wednesday night during the challenge from Manawatu.
"I think the team's worthy of the support of the province so hopefully they can show that in numbers," he said.
"And it'll be great for our union. A mid week game, a short turn around normally wouldn't be the best of crowds but hopefully we can get a lot of support."
The supporters also had an effect on the players who were excited for the upcoming match.
"Sore obviously from the Canterbury game, that's why we've had a low key training from today but certainly excited," Cooper said.
"It's great for them to see the support and see what Sir Ranfurly brings obviously."
Roger Cox brought his grandson Henri Eggik, 13, along to watch how the team trained and said he was quite impressed with their speed and accuracy.
A season ticket holder, Cox said he would definitely be at the game and was hoping Taranaki wouldn't underestimate Manawatu.
"Coming off a short turnaround then having to defend it, I think they're capable of doing it if they all front up," he said.
Craig Morris said he had been trying to get his hands on the shield for years but it had eluded him every time.
"I've always been either overseas or working on the rig and all my friends have got photos with the shield," the 54-year-old said.
Knowing it would be in town, he phoned the Taranaki Rugby Football Union to ask where he could find it and said he was determined not to miss it this time.
"It's possibly a one off thing, isn't it.
"I'm sure we're going to hold it and I'm sure we're going to have it a bit longer but to actually touch it, it's cool."
The crowd wasn't all yellow and black though, with young Manawatu supporters Cooper, 8, and Miller Templeton, 7, coming along to meet the players their team would be facing.
The game against Canterbury had been the only time this season they had been cheering for Taranaki, they said.
"The boys were hoping Taranaki would win the shield of Canterbury and bugger me, it happened," dad Richard Templeton said.