Keepng fit and fitting into the team

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It would literally be bad for business if Jared Whitburn lagged behind in a North Otago rugby fitness test. The Old Golds lock has to set the standard on the training ground as he is a qualified personal trainer. “I just started my own business at Snap Fitness this year,” Whitburn said. “I love my sport and I love the gym, so it’s easy to pour passion into something you love.” So, is he the fittest player in the team?
“Hah, I wouldn’t say that. There are a few guys at about the same level. “I try to get them in here as much as possible, and I train with a couple of the boys. “Fitness is a huge thing in the Heartland Championship, and I think the team has really pushed that side of things this year.” At 23, Whitburn is still one of the younger players in the North Otago squad but he has had plenty of experience. He joined Athletic Marist and played senior rugby straight out of Waitaki Boys’ High School, and two years ago he spent a season with an English club in Coventry on a North Otago scholarship. “That was a really good experience. The rugby was quite different. It was often wet, so it was all about the forwards.” Whitburn has genuine utility value as he is tall enough to play lock and mobile enough to play loose forward, and he is not fussed about the number on the back of his jersey. He has enjoyed the guidance of new North Otago forwards coach Nigel Walsh and veteran team-mate Ralph Darling this season. While his overall ambition in rugby is a very general “go as far as I can go”, Whitburn has one specific aim – to help Athletic Marist win a club title. “We’ve got a young team that has really started to bond together. “I’d love to get that Citizens Shield on the wall. There’s no reason we can’t make a good run at it in the next year or two.” While North Otago has to be content with chasing the second-tier Lochore Cup, Whitburn is buoyant about the development of the Old Golds. “We’ve got a really good team, and I think the attitude has been good recently. “I think we’ve lost and drawn some games we should have won, and we still think we’re one of the better teams in the competition.”