Sport International Rugby

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Triggs: Bandwagon Kiwi fans are not loyal

Hayden Triggs’ time at Leinster has opened his eyes to the quality of the rugby played in this part of world. Photo: Sportsfile
Hayden Triggs’ time at Leinster has opened his eyes to the quality of the rugby played in this part of world. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Hayden Triggs isn't quite ready to tell us where his next destination lies but you get the impression that the passion with which he speaks about playing rugby in this part of the world means he won't be veering too far from these shores.

The signing of Scott Fardy will almost certainly signal the end of Triggs' two-year stay at Leinster but it has been one that has opened his eyes to a world outside of the relentless demands of the New Zealand public.

Apart from a three-year stint in Japan in which he didn't feature all that regularly, Triggs has played all of his rugby in his home country.

The northern hemisphere tends to put Super Rugby on a pedestal and, more times than not, for good reason but it's a feeling that is not always reciprocated.

The notion from our southern counterparts is that the ball is kicked too often in these parts but Triggs doesn't agree, especially after being glued to the Six Nations for the last couple of months.

"I loved it," the 35-year-old enthuses.

Criticism

"I read the criticism down home because they have Super Rugby but they probably only have four or five teams that play good rugby down there.

"You look at the crowds. For me the number one judge is the international stadiums in four different countries sold out every single weekend.

"They got 100 minutes' worth of rugby at the weekend (France versus Wales), that's value for money! There's too much criticism from down south and I'm sure the coaches from down there would not have a problem watching Six Nations rugby.

"It's intense. It's a real supporter's game, the crowd's right there, they are right into it. It's a supporter's game.

"Because there's not 40 points being scored it's considered a kick-fest so it just shows me you got to be good to score tries and the defence up here has probably dominated the Six Nations this year so probably for the tournament's sake the best defensive team won.

"I don't want to criticise Super Rugby but everything I hear and read is directed towards the northern hemisphere but by the crowd numbers, they seem to be doing alright."

Triggs has played for both the Highlanders and the Hurricanes and with the latter winning their first ever Super Rugby title last season, you would have been forgiven for thinking that there would be an added buzz in Wellington.

But yet, when the two teams met last weekend in a New Zealand derby, the empty seats inside the Westpac stadium were glaring.

"The Hurricanes play amazing rugby so how is that not full?" Triggs suggests.

"The Kiwi public is probably too bandwagonish I guess. If they make the semis, the finals it will be full but up until then it is just the loyal die-hards there every week. But the Irish and English supporters are there."

The loyal fan base that exists in the northern hemisphere is one of the major aspects that Triggs has relished over the last two years which leads you to believe that he will be looking for a swansong somewhere nearby.

"One of the factors that I have... I got a lot of Saturdays, a lot of 80 minutes, and to see the stand full and the crowd waving the flags," he says.

"Even when we go away people like to go and watch their team try beat Leinster. So every time you look up, you are getting slagged if you are on the bench which is good for the home team but to look up and see the RDS full of blue flags and kids - that's class.

Appreciated

It is something that I really never appreciated back home. I was probably part of some struggling teams which didn't help but it is awesome.

"When I signed here last year, at first me and my wife noticed that back in New Zealand you wouldn't really see a little kid wearing a Blues jersey.

"Every now and then you might but here you have men and women wearing Leinster gear; beanies, scarves.

"To us that was amazing. We were like, 'Jeez, what the hell is going on' and it happens everyday. I drop my kids at school and there are kids in Leinster stuff like school bags. It's really cool.

As for Triggs' next step?

"There is nothing finalised or anything, but there is an opportunity on the table. Without going into it, it's a good opportunity for me and my family. You will find that out soon."

Before any potential departure, however, there is the small matter of winning some silverware for the first time in his professional career.

"It's been tough. There were periods when I wasn't in the team at all. I've had a few opportunities lately bar my own indiscretions but we have all had a chance now and every day is an audition, it is not just this week," he adds.

"It's (winning a trophy) the single most important thought in my brain right now. Europe and the Pro12, that's a long-term goal at this stage. But it would a highlight."

Irish Independent

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