Back in the lion’s den: Ross Filipo’s Ranfurly Shield returns to Wellington

Ross Filipo can still hear Jamie Joseph’s words ringing in his ears when he thinks back to his night of Ranfurly Shield triumph.

It was September 20, 2008, and an All Blacks lock who loved to run with the ball, who had chewed up too many yards and missed a team goalscoring opportunity the week before, received his manager’s stern message of ” feed the speed”. in the challenge against Auckland at Eden Park.

And the then 29-year-old certainly had a tick for listening. As fellow second rower Jeremy Thrush opened the scoring in the corner, Filipo didn’t get carried away as he ended up with the pill in space, making sure to deliver to a flying Hosea Gear for the second down. Leos.

Jamie Joseph was a happy coach after Ross Filipo followed his instructions in the Ranfurly Shield win over Auckland.

John Selkirk / Stuff

Jamie Joseph was a happy coach after Ross Filipo followed his instructions in the Ranfurly Shield win over Auckland.

That set the stage for a 27-0 thrashing, in which Filipo burrowed in for his own five-pointer just after the hour mark to essentially seal the result – a 26-year-old hoodoo breaker for the men of the capital, and, after an agonizing draw and one-point loss to Canterbury in 2003 and 2005, a memorable third and final Shield challenge in Filipo’s career.

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Fast forward 14 years, and he is now in his second year as Waikato coach, looking to spoil the party in his former province’s first defense this next term, in what promises to be a epic battle at Sky Stadium on Saturday night.

It’s one that will stir up some interesting emotions for Lower Hutt born and raised mentor Mooloos, who has his parents, brother and sister still in Lions territory and no certainty of mixing red with their yellow and black hues. .

“I’d like to think they support Waikato, but I think my dad is like diehard Lions, huh,” Filipo joked.

“He still gives me a bit of s…, he and I have a personal bet every year when it comes to the Wellington-Waikato game, just a bit of banter.

“I’m proud to call myself a Hamiltonian now,” added Filipo, having first moved to the area when Dave Rennie came to call the Chiefs in 2013, he and his wife later choosing to stay and move on. raised their three children there.

Now Waikato coach, Ross Filipo will be looking to spoil his former province's Shield party.

Joe Allison/Getty Images

Now Waikato coach, Ross Filipo will be looking to spoil his former province’s Shield party.

“I saw the light, didn’t realize it was probably New Zealand’s best kept secret.

“I try to tell them [the family], the climate here is so much better, try to encourage all my friends to sell and move here. They just think I’m crazy.

Give it a few more hours and Filipo might have the added persuasion of not just the NPC trophy, but the famed newspaper as well.

Waikato have a proud Shield history and, unlike some teams, such as Wellington, have also had a lot of knocks. Saturday will actually be their eighth in 11 seasons, three of which (the most recent against Taranaki in 2018) have proven to be successful, and Filipo declared last year’s 41-14 loss to the Magpies, where the holders are retired in the last quarter, had made his team better for the experience.

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For the first time since 2009, the Wellington Lions hold the Ranfurly Shield after defeating Hawke’s Bay.

And he expects the Lions – whose 19-12 shield-raising effort over Hawke’s Bay last weekend was their fifth rebound victory – to be a bit more prepared than his fate in 2008 when they put the silverware on the line seven days later. their triumph in Auckland and fought their way to a 27-20 defense against Tasman.

“We had spent probably too many days on the sauce,” he admitted, “coupled with the fact that the team went south for the funeral of Jamie Joseph’s father and then we came back and I think that we only had one captain’s race that week.

“Toddy Blackadder was training Tasman, and he felt a nice little ambush, and for a while it was on hold. And the boys came together at one point, telling him: ‘We better cope or we’re going to look like idiots’.

The fact that the Mooloos are also coming off their first defeat of the season – 27-20 to Otago in Dunedin at the end of their stormy week last Sunday – gave Filipo a “closer look under some rocks”, said said Filipo, and he was very impressed with his players’ maturity in acknowledging their shortcomings ahead of their final Shield shot.

“There’s so much nostalgia surrounding it, and I think everyone in the country, whether you love rugby or not, can still relate to that particular trophy, it’s kind of etched in folklore. New Zealand fabric.

“So we are extremely privileged to be able to have an opportunity, and hopefully that will remain one of the big challenges for Ranfurly Shield.”

IN ONE LOOK

NPC, week 8

Wellington vs. Waikato

Sky Stadium, Wellington

Saturday, 4:35 p.m.

Wellington: Ruben Love, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Riley Higgins, Pepesana Patafilo, Aidan Morgan, TJ Perenara, Peter Lakai, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Caleb Delaney, Dominic Bird, James Blackwell, Pekahou Cowan, Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia. Reservations: James O’Reilly, Solomona Sakalia, PJ Sheck, Taine Plumtree, Keelan Whitman, Richard Judd, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Connor Garden-Bachop.

Waikato: Tepaea Cook-Savage, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Bailyn Sullivan, D’Angelo Leuila, Daniel Sinkinson, Damian McKenzie, Xavier Roe, Samipeni Finau, Mitch Jacobson (cc), Hamilton Burr, Laghlan McWhannell, James Tucker, Sefo Kautai, Rhys Marshall , Ayden Johnstone (cc). Reservations: Pita Anae Ah-Sue, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Patrick McCurran, Jack Lam, Cortez Ratima, Tana Tuhakaraina, Mosese Dawai.

Charles P. Patton