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Golden return . . . Versatile forward Josh Clark is relishing being back in North Otago. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Josh Clark has been something of a rugby nomad in recent years – he has represented four clubs, and two provinces – but he is delighted to be back in gold. The North Otago forward speaks to Hayden Meikle

Q: How old are you, Josh?
Hah, I’m 30. It’s come around really quick.

Q: You played for North Otago in 2013-14, and you had a crack with Southland last year. Why come back to North Otago?
When I was up last time, it was probably some of the best footy I’ve played. I really enjoyed playing with the North Otago crew. Not heading back down south freed me up, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to come back.

Q: How did you enjoy your taste of the Mitre 10 Cup with Southland last year?
I loved it, mate. Great bunch of guys, and everything about the experience was just awesome. It was my first time in an environment at that level but I think I held my own. I was going to go back down this year but I couldn’t find accommodation for all my family, and I wasn’t going down by myself. I was a bit gutted but that’s life. Family comes first.

Q: You were in the 2013 North Otago team that made the Meads Cup final. How does that team compare to this year’s team?
I think we could have a better team this year, actually. The weekend showed we probably hadn’t had enough time together to really get our stuff going. It’s hard to say, though. Having a few English boys around makes it feel similar, and you’ve got your Ralphies and your Lemis still there. I just think we’ve got a few more ball-runners this year that can get us over the line in the end, I hope.

Q: So, a frustrating start – losing to Horowhenua-Kapiti – but you think the team will improve every week?
Yeah, definitely. We probably should have put 20 points on Horowhenua. We didn’t adapt to the referee. But we should get better and better, and we’re all looking forward to playing this weekend.

Q: You’re a loyal Pirates man, but the club folded this year. How did it feel to win a Dunedin club title with Southern?
It was good. For me, it was nice just to experience winning the banner. I’ve been playing premier rugby since 2006 and that was my first final. I was stoked.

Q: What are you expecting from Mika Mafi and Josh Buchan, who have come up with you from Southern to play for the Old Golds?
Mika is just a really hard worker. He’ll always run the ball up, no matter what, even in the 80th minute. And Josh just loves to counter. Sometimes it can be his downfall but you want a guy like that at Heartland level. He’s never afraid to have a crack, and he’s going to be part of a pretty good backline.

Q: And life’s a bit busier for you now with a new baby?
Yeah, that’s right. I’ve got an 8-year-old stepson and a 17-month-old daughter, Izzy, and we’ve just had a baby girl, Lucy. The away game first up was a bit hard for my partner, Bridget.

Q: What are you doing for a crust?
I’ve just started as an apprentice builder, so it’s an interesting change after being in the courier business for a really long time.