Northland v Otago



  • Amazing the difference one positional change made. Gregory being at centre changed a lot - not surprising having a physical presence in defence that doesn't just wave people through makes a big difference. Also being a threat with ball in hand and being able to set up the outsides - basics for a centre - made a huge difference.

    I don't think we should be so quick to put the boot into Witcombe - we've had a couple of good seasons since he came back and his first 2 were good too. Konia probably deserves a few questions his way. Even when we've been playing well the last few years we've tended to rely on the ad lib Northland off the cuff style (much like yesterday) and showed very little in the way of backline structure and plans. I think Northlands forward set piece still performing despite the injury toll points to the work Witcombe does with the pack. He does need to take ownership for Matt Johnson getting so many minutes this season though.

    Is overall fitness an issue or just a handful of players? I thought overall we looked quite fit, just seemed to be a bit of a drop off once we got into the ring ins and a handful of others (Wright, Te Whata-Colley etc) Someone like Atkins looked much sharper this year than last. I wonder if at times it is an intent thing rather than fitness. When the opposition get a breakaway some of the guys basically stroll back and then others like McNamara, Olsen, Atkins etc will put a lot of effort into chasing back. Look at the effort Olsen put in yesterday when Otago scored first. He was never going to catch a winger but he put the hard yards in to be first on the scene if someone else caught him.

    Definitely some bright spots from the season. Matiu stepped up and really started to dominate - quite telling he's still in the top 10 for carries in the comp and has missed basically the last 3 games and game one. Caird and Mayavanua stepped up at lock when not much was expected. Despite using 4 halfbacks, Levien and Grant looked like they could handle it. Gregory is starting to show he will be a dominant player at this level (especially if played in best position). I think with a bit more luck with injuries we would have been top 2 or 3 this season.



  • @Chiefy07 as Head Coach that is where Witcombe needs to take some responsibility.

    When they were warming up yesterday, he Atkins and Olsen were all throwing to the lineout, and Witcombe hit his target every time haha.



  • @taniwharugby I agree as far as selections go - surely he would have the over riding say, but as far as systems and plans etc, surely the bulk of that would fall on Konia as basically the backs coach?

    On another note, I know some people suggest that we need to move away from the locals only policy - I think seasons like this is why it is important we have the locals only policy. If we had that many injuries with a bunch of imports we would have hoisted the white flag near the start of the season and the ring ins wouldn't be near the same quality. As it stands we've managed to blood a whole bunch of local players so that we potentially have better depth going forward.



  • @Chiefy07 yeah I dont want a return of the bad days where we just sign guys from anywhere based on a CV or a youtube clip...those days under Ferris were dire.

    I am happy with the current stance of not automatically signing players unless they are current super players, national age group reps or established NPC players from elsewhere.

    We must have these guys playing in our club comp, until the standard here is improved we will continue to plod away propping up the bottom of the ladder with other teams when they have a lull.

    As to the Witcombe/Konia thing, I wonder how that dynamic works, given in thier first stint, Witcombe was head coach, when they went to Japan, Konia was head coach and now back, Witcombe again.

    Witcombe surely has final say, but agree, you wonder WTF Konia is doing with our backs given the persistent selections around 12/13 and the out and out poor standard of play in our backs.

    Hard to comment massively on the outside backs as the ball had, had to get past 12/13 often to get to them so you cut them some slack because the quality of it was sh!te.

    I think the lack of precision, punch, cohesion of the 12/13 axis was telling for Debreczeni too, early on he was running a bit more, wanting cuts, inside balls etc, but that got shelved for several weeks and only started showing his skills again last couple of weeks - coaching directive or confidence thing?



  • A number of players looked good in the forwards - to pick up on Chiefy's comment, Paddy Jo Atkins had a great season and has a real future at hooker. Plus so many other new players - Byrne looked good, Mayanavanua is a beast, Caird etc.



  • Yep, definitely agree on having guys playing in our comps. I don’t give a rats ass where in the country or world they’re from as long as they play club footy in Northland and commit to our cause. In terms of true blue local guys, I think it’d be great if we actually had enough of quality ones to make a “Northland Only” team, but the reality is we don’t and need to supplement from elsewhere from time to time.

    On the coaches, I reckon the major thing they got wrong was the selections rather than the tactics. I think they are good coaches (DW more specifically) and deserve another crack. They just need to focus on selecting the right guys from week to week. Given it was hard with all our injury disruptions, but that midfield fiasco should never be repeated!



  • @J77 I doubt any team has only home grown players, and probably naive to expect it...I mean the ABs have 3 who weren't born in NZ, it is what it is.

    Key is trying to get these talented kids from here but in Auckland on scholarships wanting to come back.

    But by the same token we need to be enticing others up here, like now I'd be looking for a 12/centre, a wing/FB, and in an ideal world the Blues would be proactive here too assisting with keeping/attracting players to Northland/NH and Auckland.

    Stronger club footy makes stronger provincial team which gives the Blues better competition for spots.



  • Ben Herring



  • @taniwharugby said in Northland v Otago:

    Key is trying to get these talented kids from here but in Auckland on scholarships wanting to come back.

    This is a huge point in my opinion. I think our point of attack needs to start at U19 level here. I saw the Auckland team had four or five Northland boys in there. I get that there’s a choice for these lads, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could have them playing for Northland from that age group upwards. Our U19s are way behind the 8-ball and need a boost. A lot of other unions are using the 19’s as a key development tool and it’s working. I noticed Hawkes Bay U19 had 3 or 4 of Wellington based (presumably uni students) players in their set up this year. We need to do the same and entice our Auckland/elsewhere based Northland lads back into our system. The NRU need someone to proactively scope this option out.



  • Wow what a game I just saw the highlights well done Northland.


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