Ton up for Todd
Linwood Keas celebrate their club day tomorrow, and the occasion will be a little bit more special this year as front-row stalwart Alex Todd makes his 100th appearance in the green, black, white and red uniform in the Massetti Cup blockbuster against Hornby Panthers.
The Rockcote Canterbury Bulls veteran, who captains the Keas on Saturday, is humbled by his milestone.
“I means quite a lot actually,” Todd said.
“For a club that’s got a rich history in rugby league, I’m honoured and privileged to play so many games for the Keas.”
Todd grew up in the Redcliffs area and came through Linwood’s junior ranks. After dabbling in rugby union at Sumner, he returned to the Keas as a teenager and earned his first taste of senior footy as the club took out the 2007 premier reserves title.
A year later he helped the Keas lift the Pat Smith Trophy courtesy of a victory over Papanui in the premiers grand final, which led on to a Bulls debut as a 19-year-old in 2009.
Todd briefly returned to the 15-a-side game with Sumner in 2014, but he was back on Linwood’s roster the following season and regained his representative spot.
“‘Toddy’s’ been a pretty important part of the team for a while now, and I’m really pleased for him to achieve this milestone,” Linwood Keas and Rockcote Canterbury Bulls coach Andrew Auimatagi said.
“He’s a consistent performer at premier level and representative level as well.”
Auimatagi’s association with Todd goes back a decade, coaching the tyro in the premier reserves’ title-winning season in ’07, before they combined as teammates in the ’08 premiership triumph.
Their bond also extends beyond the rugby league paddock – Todd is engaged to Auimatagi’s sister-in-law.
The coach emphasised his engine-room anchor’s influence since returning from his union stint.
“Things probably didn’t turn out the way he planned (in union) and we were glad to have him back,” Auimatagi said
“He’s a quiet leader, but he’s someone the boys love playing with. He gives 100 percent every time, and his best and worst performances aren’t too far off each other.
“He’s the kind of player every coach loves to have in their squad.”
After the heartache of teammate and Linwood legend Teni Tuli’s death midway through the 2015 season, followed by the Keas’ extra-time loss to the Tigers in that year’s decider, Todd pinpointed the 2016 grand final as the highlight of his 10 seasons with the club.
“It’s been great (since coming back from rugby), especially winning last year’s grand final,” Todd said.
“It’s a different feel between rugby and what we’ve got at Linwood – it’s a real family, brotherhood type of environment we’re building there.
“It meant a lot (to win) last year, especially with the loss of Teni. We wanted to do it for him. And (losing the grand final in) 2015 was a bit disappointing.”
But the euphoria of premiership success is very much in the Keas’ rearviewmirror now; the focus is on becoming the first club since Hornby’s 2009-10 outfit to go back-to-back.
Linwood are unbeaten since a Round 1 thrashing at the hands of the Panthers and currently sit in a three-way tie for the Massetti Cup lead as the halfway mark of the competition looms.
Todd is confident in his side’s capacity to become the first Linwood team to win consecutive grand finals.
“We’ve lost a couple of players, but the guys that have come in have really stepped up and I think we’ll go close – if not all the way.
“The boys are happy with how we’re travelling. We’ve got another big game against Hornby this weekend, so we’d like to get a bit of revenge on them for the first-round loss and put on a good show for our club day.”
WILL EVANS – CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE