Halfback aims to reach Mitre 10 Cup target

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Pirates-Old Boys halfback Jonty Wood gets ready to put the ball into a scrum as Eastern-Northern Barbarians halfback Issac Wairau and referee Sam Nicholson look on during a Southland premier club rugby fixture.

IT is simple really – Jonty Wood wants to play in the Mitre 10 Cup.

After a few years dancing around the fringes of New Zealand’s premier provincial rugby competition, the 24-year-old has come south in an attempt to scratch that itch he has.

Wood hails from Hamilton, but in recent years he has played for the Bay of Plenty development team (2015 and 2016) and last year lined up for Thames Valley in the Heartland Championship.

The halfback was on track for a spot in the New Zealand Heartland team, but an injury late in the competition ended those hopes.

At the end of last year the primary school teacher looked at various options which might help him reach that desired Mitre 10 Cup target.

He settled on Southland after a conversation with Stags assistant coach Jason Kawau.

Wood said Kawau stressed he couldn’t promise anything, but Wood was encouraged enough to get on a plane and head to Invercargill to line up for Pirates-Old Boys in Southland’s premier club competition.

“As they say, you are going to get a few no’s before you get a yes. So hopefully that yes does come for me,” Wood said.

“I read a good article on Marty Banks the other day and he said he got four or five no’s before he finally got his chance.”

Wood is aware the pathway to Mitre 10 Cup game time with the Stags is not a clear one.

Nico Costa, who last year played for Auckland, and New Zealand under-20 halfback Jay Renton have already been signed for the Stags’ 2018 campaign. At this stage they shape as the leading halfback contenders.

A spot in the Stags squad for Wood may come down to if the decision makers opt to sign three halfbacks, or possibly injury to those other halfbacks.

For Wood it is about banging as loudly as he can on the selection door through club rugby form with his new club.

“I’m just trying to control what I can control and trying not to stress about that other stuff.

“I just want to play well for Pirates-Old Boys. Pirates-Old Boys have been very hospitable to me, so I would love to be able to repay that faith and help Pirates-Old Boys get that semi-final spot.”

Pirates-Old Boys sit fourth in the competition, five points ahead of fifth-placed Eastern-Northern Barbarians.

Outside of his rugby commitments, Wood is working at Southland Boys’ High School as a relief teacher, which he said he was enjoying.

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