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McNicholl savours Shield triumph

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/09/2016

Johnny McNicholl is over the moon after Canterbury finally ended their five-year Ranfurly Shield drought after beating Waikato 29-23.

McNicholl was in the reserves back in 2011 when the red and blacks lost the shield to Southland 22-19 and was then part of the unsuccessful challenge against Taranaki, going down 18-9 the following year.

The 26-year-old outside back, who has won three national provincial titles with Canterbury is relieved to have finally recaptured the Log o' Wood after overcoming a resilient Waikato defence in Hamilton on Wednesday.

"The only time I thought we had the game is when we kicked the ball out on full time. They were in it the whole time - you never know the ball could squirt out and they could go the length of the field.

"We were very lucky to close it out at the end and we had to work hard for the entire 80 minutes," McNicholl said.

The result has just started to sink in with a wave of support coming in for the team who now travel by bus to New Plymouth for a top of the table clash against Taranaki on Sunday before its first defence against North Harbour next Friday.

"I've had a few messages from folks I haven't heard from in a while and it just shows how much it means to people back in Canterbury.

"You sort of get that shield fever before the match starts and I can't imagine what it's going to be like when we bring it home," McNicholl said.

The Crusaders flyer also has no regrets about signing with Welsh club Scarlets, who he will link up with at the end of the domestic campaign after failing to crack the All Blacks.

"I thought about it for a while but I could see it was the right decision for me.

"There are plenty of great wingers out there. I gave it my all and won't regret what I've done here in New Zealand and I've loved every moment."

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