Captain fantastic: Arrowtown's Malcolm Sutherland will bring up 100 games for the Bulls today. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY


Playing for your captain takes on a new dimension for the Arrowtown rugby side’s crunch home game against Upper Clutha today.

That’s because Malcolm Sutherland, who’s in sole charge this year after being co-captain
last season, brings up his 100th game for the Bulls.

His milestone comes after former captain Aidan ‘Goonie’ Winter marked his 200th game
for Arrowtown in their last home game — a one-point loss to comp leaders Cromwell.

Co-coach Dan ‘Pup’ Eyles says Sutherland’s ‘‘one of those players, a lot like Aidan, where
he’s just a great man to have around’’.

‘‘He’s passionate about his game, he’s physical on the field, he just loves the game of rugby.’’

Still only 25, Sutherland, who hails from Waikaka, in Southland, was brought here by his
boss, Allister Saville, to do a building apprenticeship — ‘‘part of my contract was playing rugby for Arrowtown, believe it or not’’.

‘‘I was 17, I think, when I went to my first training and then 18 for my first season.’’

A rangy lock who loves running with the ball, he confesses ‘‘I don’t get through the hard work like former Arrowtown locks’’.

His highlight was winning the Central Otago comp last year ‘‘after being in the semis or final every single year’’.

He’s got a good feeling about this year’s side, too.

‘‘We’re there or thereabouts — if we could play with the same intensity we played with against Cromwell, every week, we’d be where they are.’’

Saturday’s game — kickoff’s 2.30pm at Jack Reid Park — is crunch-time for both Arrow
town’s and Upper Clutha’s aspirations for a home semi.

Last year, Arrowtown were the only side to upset the Wanaka-based side in round-robin play — twice, in fact — before also pipping them 14-13 in the semis.

‘‘I think Upper Clutha will come over with a few points to prove,’’ Eyles says.

He believes his side, who beat Alexandra 31-5 last weekend, is improving every week and gaining ‘‘some good continuity’’.

Wakatipu Premiers, meanwhile, held out Maniototo 30-23 in their first game this season at
the Queenstown Rec Ground last weekend.

Stand-in halfback Steve Bruce brought up his 50th game for the side, a week after winger Dan O’Shea raised the same milestone.

Wakatipu hit the road this Saturday, travelling to take on the Matakanui Mudfish.

Wakatipu Wanderers, thumped 56-7 by Pioneer in Gore last weekend, play Waikiwi in Invercargill this Saturday.