Matt McGahan has fond memories of beating Canterbury last year but warns you cannot live off those laurels as he prepares for Sunday's rematch in Albany.

North Harbour's 29-24 midweek win in 2014 was fit to rank as one of the biggest upsets in NPC history, the Championship cellar-dwellers against the Premiership leaders, the six-time defending champs on a 6-0 tear. But Harbour uncorked a resilient display full of intensity and energy. McGahan, who will likely line up at fullback, as he has done since game two, played at second five that night and kicked four goals. No less than 13 of the current Harbour squad played a part in that game.

The challenge is to replicate that energy and adherence to the game plan. Though Harbour sits at 2-4, just out of the Championship top four due to Otago's astonishing win in Wellington, they are a much improved outfit from the near rabble that was dispatched 43-0 by the Lions a month ago. Canterbury are 5-0 and second on the Premiership table.

"We haven't touched (on last year) too much," says the 22-year-old McGahan.


"Canterbury will probably have a salty taste in the mouth from last year, so knowing them, we'll have to be on our game for the whole 80 minutes. But we definitely take some belief, even knowing that Canterbury will be coming here to seek a bit of revenge."

At the very least, one would think that Canterbury will not have an ounce of complacency in their ranks for Sunday.

McGahan has run well from fullback, combining well with the likes of Tevita Li and Nafi Tuitavake, scoring a try himself and providing the last pass on two others. But like the rest of the backline, McGahan is seeking the consistency to match the industry of the pack.

"I think our forwards have been the mainstay. We are a bit patchy as a backline."

The addition of Walter Little as technical advisor has helped, a new voice from the Glenfield coach and one who played a record 145 matches for the union. His expertise appears to be having a positive influence on the passing and lines of the backs. His son Michael has emerged as one of the finds of the season with his wide skillset and four tries.

"The belief is a big part of the games we have won. It's just individual errors that are letting us down. There is belief in the potential that if we put it all together for 80 minutes then we can really open some sides up," said McGahan.

18 Sep, 2015 5:02am
3 minutes to read

The short turnaround after Wednesday night's 39-20 defeat to the Tasman Makos will be not be used as an excuse.

"You are tired and you are sore, you just have to get on with it. They can't change the draw."

McGahan himself doesn't have to play with the pressure of a contract, having signed with the Blues for 2016 even before the ITM Cup kicked off.