Stuart Whitaker is the chief reporter of the Te Puke Times and a general reporter for Bay of Plenty Times.

Stanaway over Olympics setback

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Teddy Stanaway, complete with blond hair, during last week's game against North Harbour.
Teddy Stanaway, complete with blond hair, during last week's game against North Harbour.

At 27, Steamers midfielder Teddy Stanaway hasn't given up on his dream of playing for the All Blacks.

After two seasons exclusively playing sevens and being a key member of Sir Gordon Tietjens' world series All Blacks Sevens team, Stanaway played his first game of 15-a-side rugby in two years in the Steamers' only win so far, against Northland on September 9.

His season start was delayed as he recovered from a broken middle metacarpal in his left hand, suffered in a training game on the eve of the Olympics. The injury ruled him out of the Games' sevens competition.

While there was obvious disappointment, it wasn't something he dwelt on.

"It was something that I got over pretty quickly to be honest,'' he said. ''Set backs for me aren't unusual, I've had a few in my career and that was one of them - and so I was pretty well equipped to be able to handle it.''

He was understandably frustrated by the eventual failure of the sevens team, and his inability to influence the outcome.

Stanaway started as an NPC player with Auckland when he was 19.

''I was young and chucked into a professional environment and it went from a game to a career. I made some mistakes quite young but I was still young enough to learn from those mistakes and turn my attitude and my mental preparation around and get another opportunity here in the Bay.

''I've been able to fix those mistakes and I think that's been the key for me.''

Goal setting had also been a feature of his career.

''I set myself goals that other people would see as being unachievable, setting things up that are out of reach so I have to grow and reach for them. And the All Blacks are definitely not out of the picture for me, that's something I want to achieve.''

Since his belated start to the Mitre 10 Cup campaign he was happy with his own form.

''My first game back for the Steamers was my first game back in (15-a-side rugby) in two years, so I was happy to get through that unscathed.

''Personally I've been happy that in each game I have progressed I haven't had a bad game - each game I'm building.

''But losing has taken the sting out of how good or bad I am going because I am quite competitive and I want to win.''

Tomorrow's game against Manawatu is a must-win affair if the Steamers have any hope of reaching the Championship top four.

''The team and management came together at the start of the week and we realised it's a do or die situation at the weekend and we have to look at our preparation and see what we can do better this week.''

On Wednesday the team got together for dinner and to watch tomorrow's opponents beat Wellington 50-28.

''We learned that Manawatu are not going to roll over and let us steamroll them. They put in a big performance on Wellington who are one of the form teams at the moment.

''It opened up the boys' eyes to preparing well for this Sunday and we know it's going to take everyone to have their best performance for us to do it.''

There had been optional player get-togethers for dinner throughout the season.

''But this one we decided as a team that it was just as important as strength and conditioning training or a field training and that everyone was here.''

Stanaway recently revealed a new, blondlook.

''I've had a long campaign of international sevens and I just needed to get out of the box and refresh myself. It's a way of expressing myself. If you talk to people around me it's the total opposite of my personality - I prefer being in the background and just doing my work and letting my performance speak for itself.''

The blondhair had made him stand out on the field, with an unintended consequence.

"It's kind of forced me to put in the performance that backs it up too, so it's been a blessing in disguise really. I kind of had a feeling that was the way it was going to go, but that wasn't the intention behind it, I just wanted to mix things up.''

- Bay of Plenty Times

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