ITM Cup: 'Blocker' recalls true colours

At least one set of binoculars was glued on Otago fitness trainer Karl Bloxham during Saturday night's ITM Cup rugby match at Napier's McLean Park.

One of the wags in the media box was waiting to see if Bloxham would take the water bottles to the Hawke's Bay Magpies players instead of Otago's.

Bloxham, a loosie for Otago's top club side Taieri, was the Magpies deputy fitness trainer for six years before returning to his home province at the start of this year.

"I was born and bred in Otago ... I know where my colours are," Bloxham, a son of former Otago and All Black hooker, the late Ken Bloxham, explained afterwards.

He was thrilled to see a lot of the Hawke's Bay Academy players he worked with as well as Hawke's Bay Sevens players handling the step up to ITM Cup level.

Bloxham was delighted with how competitive the second-placed championship side, Otago, was with a premiership outfit.

"We played well. A couple of late errors proved costly and the Magpies were able to convert a couple of late penalties to get away on us."

"Blocker" (Bloxham's nickname) said there were no match bets between himself and former boss, Magpies fitness trainer Grant Dearns.

"Isn't Grant looking fit. He must be doing plenty of aerobics and a bit of zumba ... he's a changed man. We'll see if he can keep up with me at the Sevens nationals in January," Bloxham quipped.

A key member of Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports Maddison Trophy-winning team last year, Bloxham, was thrilled to win a second consecutive premier winner's medal with Taieri this year.

Hawke's Bay products Gareth Evans, Ashton Tuck and Sam Anderson-Heather were all in the Dunedin side Taieri beat in the final.

Bloxham is thrilled with the fitness levels in the Otago side, which he said is working hard to secure a championship semifinal.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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