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Shield fever . . . Waitaki Boys' High School pupil Reagan Rule (13) and teacher Nigel Ryburn hold the Ranfurly Shield in the school's Hall of Memories on Tuesday. The prized log o' wood was displayed at schools around the Waitaki district this week for pupils and staff to enjoy ahead of today's highly anticipated shield clash between holder Otago and North Otago at Whitestone Contracting Stadium. Gates open at 11.45am. St Kevin's College First XV plays South Otago as a curtain raiser at 12pm before Otago and North Otago kick off at 2.05pm. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

North Otago coach Jason Forrest is asking the public to join him in “daring to dream”.

His side faces Otago today to challenge for one of the most prestigious trophies in New Zealand sport – the Ranfurly Shield.

Forrest said the North Otago squad had a mix of experience and “exciting young guys”.

North Otago has opted for a six-two split of forwards to backs, based on the expected damp conditions.

Old Boys flanker Toni Taufa could double as a back if the need arose, Forrest said.

The majority of the team has come from the Citizens Shield competition, with the addition of Woody Kirkwood, a lock from Green Island, and Jacob Coghlan, a versatile forward from Alhambra-Union and former St Kevin’s College First XV captain, who gets a chance as a player of origin.

Forrest said the key would be keeping emotions in check when it came to running out in front of what he hoped would be a big crowd.

“[Otago] will bring it, because in the Thames Valley game they didn’t start very good at all,” Forrest said.

“There will be some nerves, and that will be from the coaching and management group as well.”

Forrest said his team could only dare to dream and he hoped the North Otago community would do the same.

“We certainly aren’t going into this game thinking we are going to lose.

“The more support for the boys, the better it will be.”