Wellington heads to Eden Park tonight looking to break a 26-year drought and lift the Ranfurly Shield, even though Steve Walsh is the referee!! But underlying the match is a looming personal tragedy for Wellington coach Jamie Joseph. His father, former Maori All Black Jim Joseph is terminally ill with lung cancer. Toby Robson writes a very moving profile of Jamie Joseph in today's Dom-Post, putting a very human face to the former All Black hard man. It's well worth a read.
Jim Joseph had the honour of lifting the Ranfurly Shield as captain of Marlborough when the Red Devils upset the Alex Wyllie-led Canterbury side in 1973. Brian Ford's runaway try down the terrace touchline in the dying stages is now a piece of Ranfurly Shield folklore. If Jamie Joseph can get his hands on the Log of Wood tonight as a coach, after four unsuccessful challenges in his playing career, there will be a few misty-eyed "hard men" around the traps. Meantime, to the Joseph whanau - Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui; Arohanui.