They’re five from five and within striking distance of qualifying for the Jubilee Cup for the second half of the season, but complacency is not something you’ll hear on Old Boys University’s training paddock.
“We set goals before the season started and we’re where we want to be now, but we don’t want a false sense of security in thinking that everything is all good because the nature of Wellington club rugby is that anybody can smash you,” OBU left wing and 2015 Jubilee Cup winner Te Wehi Wright told Club Rugby this week.
“We’ve made a winning start, but our mentality is that you can’t rest on your laurels or you’ll come out second best.”
With five rounds of 13 in the books, OBU are the only side to win all their Swindale Shield matches, averaging over seven tries a game. Wright scored four tries against Paremata-Plimmerton and is a key cog in their positive game plan.
“That is how we train, we are still doing fitness Tuesday to Thursday and we found that the fitness factor seems to be working and one of the big reasons our game plan works.”
On Saturday, the OBU Goats host fellow front-runners Marist St Pat’s at Nairnville Park for the Jack Lamason Memorial Cup, on Tuesday they meet Wellington for the Dean Gifford Memorial Cup and the following Saturday they play Oriental-Rongotai in a much-anticipated replay of their two one-point wins over them last year.
However, wing Wright, loosehead prop Finnbarr Kerr-Newell and lock-flanker Will Mangos won’t be part of these last two fixtures of this upcoming block of games as they join the New Zealand Universities side on Sunday.
“We’ll be preparing for a game against the Bay of Plenty Wasps on Tuesday, which is a good build-up towards the main game on Saturday against Kanto University, the curtain-raiser to the Chiefs Super Rugby match,” said Wright who has been appointed vice-captain.
The BoP Wasps side will feature former Wainuiomata players, Josh Roberton-Weepu at fullback and Henry Stowers at blindside flanker, while Wright knows what to expect from Kanto University.
“I have played Kanto over the years and you can’t take them lightly because they are structured down to a tee. I have lost to them a couple of times, so you know that it is not a team that you take lightly.
“There’s a bit of experience in our NZU side this year, and I’m pretty excited about the challenge coming up.”
This will be Wright’s fifth time playing for the NZU side. He also played for the World Universities side against Sydney University in the curtain-raiser to the Sydney Test of the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
Several players that Wright has played with at NZU have gone on to play Super Rugby, such as Whetu Douglas (Crusaders), Matt Faddes (Highlanders) and Scott Barrett (Crusaders). “There’s a group of recent NZU players at a higher level now, so it’s a good pathway.”
Fellow OBU prop Kerr-Newell has played for the Wellington Lions, while Will Mangos is in good early season form.
Kerr-Newell scored a 50-metre try for OBU last Saturday against Petone. “I was giving him a bit of heat saying Finnbarr you stole my try! It’s pretty awesome to see a prop sprint 50 metres and being chased by backs.”
“Will is a bee-keeper and he came down from Hamilton last year to OBU. He came away with us at NZU last year, and he’s come back this year bigger and faster, he’s an enforcer for us."
Wright himself has spent time in Hamilton, attending Hamilton Boys’ High School in his last year of school after growing up in Rotorua and playing hockey not rugby in his formative years. As well as taking up rugby, he played Touch and has played age-group Touch for New Zealand.
“Through playing Touch I got introduced to the oval ball and decided I was quite keen to take on a bit of rugby and that’s where it started.”
He returned to Hamilton for a season last year.
“I moved back to Hamilton last year to play a bit of rugby for Waikato. I played for Waikato University; we made the semi-finals and just lost by one point to Melville who ended up winning.”
How does the style of the two competitions compare? “In Wellington it’s a lot more confrontational, up in Hamilton it’s nippier and a bit more skill involved, more running around people than running over the top of them."
Back to this weekend, Wright says that the Goats are in good stead, but this Saturday’s game against MSP at Nairnville Park is important.
“If we can go well against MSP it will alleviate a bit of pressure with us the three of us away with NZU for the following two games.
“The depth in our squad is such that it shouldn’t impact too much though.”
Squad members Tim Farrell and Marino Makaele Tu’u are also in the NZ U20s.
The Goats might get also get Wes Goosen back, after not being picked in the 23 for the Hurricanes for this Friday’s game against the Brumbies Napier.
Swindale Shield Round 6 is this Saturday - check Draws & Results across the top of this page for more.