All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder treasures the pictures of Canterbury's last successful Ranfurly Shield challenge which adorn his Rangiora home.

Blackadder was No 8 when the Vance Stewart-coached side lifted the shield from Waikato in 1994.

While he revelled in the euphoria of that 29-26 win six years ago, he also knew the heartache when he captained Canterbury in their 23-29 loss to Waikato in 1998.

Blackadder has a vital role in his third challenge for the shield, against Waikato at Hamilton on Saturday.


Victory would be a fitting way to observe his third blazer game - 112 appearances - for Canterbury.

Blackadder, who started his Canterbury career as a flanker against Bay of Plenty in 1991, has played all three loose forward positions for the province before locking himself into the second row last year.

He celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday, saying that "shield challenges are special occasions and provide wonderful memories."

"I was lucky enough to be involved in a challenge we won and I've still got the photos on a wall to provide great lifetime memories. But we were outplayed by Waikato two years ago. We had chances and couldn't finish. ``In games like that you can't afford not to take them."

Blackadder remains a respected leader in the Canterbury team, although second five-eighths Daryl Gibson has retained the captaincy throughout the NPC campaign.

"Gibbo's done a really good job and stepped up and made the calls that have had to be made. It's been nice to sit back, but nothing's really changed for me on the field."

Canterbury's philosophy for Saturday's shield match was to attack, he said.

"You don't win shield games by defending. You treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime game and absolutely play out of your skin.


"The biggest thing I and the other senior Canterbury guys can contribute to the team is to go out and play well.''

Waikato's strong shield fixation was evident in their contrasting performances home and away, he said.

"At home there's no better side than Waikato. They take pride in the shield and you can tell by the way they play at home how much it means to them."