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Cowan expects backlash

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Taranaki, fourth on the table, was surprisingly beaten by the previously disappointing Hawke's Bay in Napier last weekend.

"Taranaki's a good side," Cowan said. "They've brought in guys from other provinces in key positions and I think their backs are looking a lot more dangerous now. They've always had a strong forward pack.

"We just need to go out there and attack them. We know from our loss to Northland in Whangarei that teams come back strongly after a loss and that will be the case with Taranaki.

"You learn more from a loss than a win and we're expecting them to bounce back really hard against us. We know that so hopefully we'll be ready for them."

Cowan, 27, has been one of the success stories of the Southland season, playing all 11 games and playing 80 minutes in most games, in the absence of his brother, Jimmy, on All Black duty.

"The body's a wee bit bruised and battered but it's not too bad," he said. "Jimmy's coming back for a game at some stage so I'll get a rest then but I'm rehabbing pretty well and feeling pretty good.

"I'm pretty satisfied with my form. I'm not getting any younger and I've set myself some pretty big goals this year.

"It's do or die for me if I want to take it another step higher in my rugby career.

"I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself but the team's going well and helping me out so that's good."

Cowan had a breakout season last year when, in Jimmy's absence, he played 13 games and was a key component in the team which won the Ranfurly Shield and made it to the semi-finals.

"That was a good year for me and I learnt a lot from the regular starts. I started to feel comfortable in the Southland jersey."

Jimmy has played 92 matches for Southland and he has the goal of 100 games to achieve before the end of his career.

"That's a massive goal he wants to achieve and he's in a bit of a difficult spot with the All Blacks at the moment," Scott said. "There's nothing better than playing for your country but he's chipping away and he's closing in on the century."

Scott, who has played 34 games for the Stags, said the regular game time had done wonders for his confidence.

"It just comes from experience, I think. The more times you are under pressure in a game, the more you learn from it. There are a lot of guys around me who are really good leaders and I learn a lot from them.

"And I'm having fun out there, that's the main thing for me. I'm playing with 21 good mates and I'm having a lot of fun. I think when you're having fun with your mates that your rugby has to improve."

Cowan said coaches David Henderson and Simon Culhane had put all the right systems in place and that had engendered confidence in the players.

"You just go out and do your best and it's working for us at the moment."

Cowan said the Stags set high standards for themselves at the outset of the season.

"Our goal was not just to make the top seven but to finish in the top four. If you want to make the top four, you have to win your home games and that means hanging on to the Ranfurly Shield.

"That's still our goal and it's still possible to achieve that. The support for us has been unbelievable, we've got everyone behind us. It's a good era to be a part of. Most places we go in New Zealand we seem to have a lot of support and that's awesome.

"But we know we've got to continue to front up and there are no easy games for us, and that includes Taranaki at the weekend."