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The big prize . . . Otago coach Ben Herring (left) and North Otago coach Jason Forrest pose with the Ranfurly Shield during a fan forum at Fat Sally's Pub and Restaurant. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

The Citizens Shield competition wraps up for the year tomorrow, but that does not mean rugby fans in North Otago will be left wanting.

Next Friday, North Otago challenges Otago in Oamaru for the Ranfurly Shield.

It is North Otago’s first challenge for the treasured log o’ wood since it played Canterbury in 2011 and will be the first time a Shield game has been played in Oamaru since North Otago hosted Auckland in 2008.

North Otago co-coach Jason Forrest was a keen spectator of last week’s challenge between Thames Valley and Otago in Wanaka when Otago trailed at halftime but came back to win 41-21.

Forrest said Thames Valley played well, but he was expecting a different Otago side next week.

“[North Otago] have been together about five weeks, so things are starting to come along,” Forrest said.

“It is a good bunch of boys, good buzz, everyone is just excited about it.”

This year’s squad showed a lot of promise, Forrest said.

“We have a lot of depth around all our positions, which makes our trainings good.

“Guys are not taking their positions for granted. They have to train well if they want to be playing on Saturdays.”

Outside of a few experienced campaigners, there is plenty of youth and X-factor in the team, he said.

“If we get our line speed up and make our tackles next Friday, who knows what could happen?

“We can only dare to dream.”

On Thursday, the North Otago Rugby Union is holding a “Night With the Stars” event at the Loan and Merc.

The event will feature guest speakers Brendan Lane, Paul Allison and Otago Rugby management.

A buffet dinner will be followed by live music and the auctioning of several pieces of signed sporting memorabilia.

Tickets are availiable at the North Otago Rugby Union office.