Opinion: Tim Boys, the Southland Stags' longserving fan favourite

Southland Stags flanker Tim Boys during a Mitre 10 Cup game at Rugby Park in Invercargill this year.
Robyn Edie

Southland Stags flanker Tim Boys during a Mitre 10 Cup game at Rugby Park in Invercargill this year.

OPINION: The following shouldn't be regarded as a retirement tribute, just a tribute.

At 33 years old, when another season comes to an end for that particular player, naturally a sports journalist is going to be a little cheeky and ask if it might be that player's last.

In terms of long-serving Southland Stags flanker Tim Boys, that's the question I put to him. More because of fear I wouldn't do any possible finale the justice it deserves when he does in fact walk into rugby's afterlife.

Tim Boys clears the ball from a ruck during the round eight Mitre 10 Cup match between Southland and Wellington at Rugby ...
Dianne Manson

Tim Boys clears the ball from a ruck during the round eight Mitre 10 Cup match between Southland and Wellington at Rugby Park.

The response: Boys doesn't know, his body is feeling fine, and those sort of decisions will probably be made in the off-season.

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There are no doubts Boys could go around again for Southland, but another 12 months, the arrival of a fourth kid - they do have the potential to change things.

Forget the retirement word for the moment though. Now is as good of a time as any to reflect on Boys' immense contribution to Southland rugby and his role of all round good bloke.

Before we talk tackling or mullets - Boys' trademarks through his 13 years with the Stags - we'll start with that good bloke bit.

Boys has been a promotional goldmine for Southland rugby, and many at Rugby Park headquarters may not even be aware of the extent of it.

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I'll set the scene for you here.

In the hour after a typical Stags home game, I tap away on my laptop from the media box and every now and then look up, cast an eye over the largely empty Rugby Park, and ponder what I should write next.

There are the following people - those cleaning up the rubbish, those packing away the sound system, those stragglers still having a beer in a tent at one end of the ground, and there is Tim Boys. He's traditionally one of the last to leave the ground.

As I packed away my laptop last Saturday night at that largely dark and empty venue, out of the corner of my eye I spotted Tim Boys. He was still in his full playing kit having a beer with those supporters still in that tent at one end of the ground.

It is a sight which prompts a chuckle, but it is not a first.

I recall on occasions standing under the grandstand waiting for a particular player to interview when Boys eventually walks from the field and through the tunnel, shakes a few hands, and instead of turning left towards the Stags changing room, he keeps going straight.

Still wearing his playing boots, shorts, socks, jersey, the lot - Boys heads straight up the stairs at Rugby Park and into a corporate box to mingle with more fans.

It's those sort of touches which will ensure Boys will forever be a fan favorite when reflecting on Southland rugby.

But his deeds on the field over the years shouldn't be lost in this conversation.

Any player to have played close to 130 games for Southland ought to be well respected. And considering more seasons than not he has led Southland's tackle count, he has carried his fair share of the workload.

Remember, he has also played for both the Highlanders and Crusaders at Super Rugby level and in 2009 went ever so close to a surprise All Black call-up.

He found himself in a two-way battle with Bay of Plenty's Tanerau Latimer for one spot in the All Blacks squad for their end of year tour to the United Kingdom.

Latimer ended up filling that particular spot, the door which was left slightly ajar quickly closed.

Boys has not just been a stellar servant for Southland rugby, but New Zealand rugby in general.

He was originally from North Otago, arrived in the deep south as a 21-year-old in 2005 on loan from Otago, but now is very much a Southlander.

It's proof you don't have to be a born and bred Southlander to make a mark while wearing the maroon jersey, you just have to have the attributes Southlanders like. 

Boys has all of those, mullet included.

.

 - Stuff

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