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After packing down shoulder-to-shoulder with Nathan Sharpe during the 2012 Super Rugby season, Emirates Western Force lock Toby Lynn is looking to utilise his learnings out of last season and take the mantle as the team’s lineout general for 2013.
The vast amounts of intellectual property will not retire along with the Wallaby great, with Lynn keen to continue providing key set piece possession through the Emirates Western Force lineout.
“When someone like Sharpie leaves, he leaves a pretty big hole to fill after 160-odd Super Rugby games,” he said. “He’s the lineout guru so stepping into that lineout leadership role is a key part for me going forward next year.
“In Waikato I did the same sort of thing for five or six years but I got a whole new perspective for it after the year just gone. Learning how Sharpie goes about running a lineout is pretty good and I think I did more learning in one year than I did in the five before that.”
The experienced 28-year-old has enjoyed responsibility for the Emirates Western Force lineout during the pre-season, however, the former Chiefs lock appreciates that a starting berth is anything but guaranteed.
In 2013, the race for starting second row positions remains as fierce as ever with Lynn going head to head with the likes of newcomers Hugh McMeniman and Rory Walton, and Phoenix Battye, Sam Wykes and Ben McCalman – who are all vying for starting roles after an injury-riddled 2012.
“Coming into this season there’s good competition for places,” he said. “Hughy’s [McMeniman] come in too, who can play lock and has played with the Wallabies as well and is a pretty handy player.
“Wykesy’s back too so he’ll be also vying for those spots, so there’s still plenty of competition in the second row.”
Lynn’s potential lineout responsibility is one of a number of changes that have swept through the side ahead of 2013 – including new coaching staff, new program and new backline.
And the New Zealand-born tight forward, who played all but one of his 15 appearances this year in the ‘4’ jersey, says the changes have been positive ones.
“It’s been good to get the structure back in the team,” he said. “I think we’re headed in the right direction and it’s had a pretty good feel during the pre-season. I’m just looking forward to getting in there and getting amongst it next year.”
The changes have also seen a growing New Zealand contingent within the squad, with new recruits Alby Mathewson, Jayden Hayward and Chris Tuatara-Morrison joining Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Winston Stanley and Will Tupou as those with Kiwi heritage.
However, Lynn says he’s enjoyed siding with his Australian teammates – particularly when it comes to his neighbours from New Zealand’s North Island.
“Being a Waikato bloke you grow up to hate the Aucklanders anyway so I’m with the Aussies in giving the Kiwis a bit of stick,” he said. “I’ve been here a year now so I’ve done my time.”