Somerville back and ready for Shield defence


Monday, September 19, 2005    Photosport

After an enforced lay-off following the Philips Tri Nations Series Somerville will make his entrance in the Air New Zealand NPC in the all-important Ranfurly Shield clash against Wellington this Friday night.

Somerville has had an indifferent last couple of months of rugby. On one hand he was included in every All Blacks campaign of 2005, but on the other he has spent more time on the reserves bench than on the playing field.

The three-week recuperation came at a good time with the birth of his first child the week of the final Tri Nations Test, and although life has changed for the 27-year-old he told things are under control. “They (babies) consume a bit of time but I still managed to work around her,” he said.

“The body’s feeling great and the mental break was good too. I’ve been inspired by the way the boys have been playing so I'm looking forward to getting into it on Friday.”

Wellington has historically done well at Jade Stadium. Their previous two Air New Zealand NPC matches have also doubled as Shield challenges and they have come within a whisker of lifting the ‘log-o-wood’ both times. Canterbury fullback Ben Blair scored and converted his own try at the death to steal a 31-29 victory in 2001; they drew 38-all in 2003.

Somerville is under no illusion of another tough match – his 47th in Canterbury colours: “These Wellington guys have done well down here in the past and we’re aware of that. But we have gone pretty well against them the last couple of games so that will be in the back of their minds as well.

”It’s up to us to play to our potential again this weekend because the Shield is up for grabs.”