When students see John Konrad around the Oswego State campus, the first word they think of to describe him isn’t likely to be “little.” However, in his rugby family, he has been nicknamed “Little John.”
The nickname does not describe the size of Konrad’s body, but rather comments on his heart and the compassion he has for those around him. His teammates, whom he sees as family members, compare him to the character Little John from “Robin Hood.” The fictional character, like the Wizards’ forward captain, is one of the biggest guys in the group, but also the most caring.
Konrad, Oswego State’s starting loose head prop, is ready to show how much he is behind his squad this season through his position as captain.
“I want them to get an understanding of the game,” Konrad said. “I don’t want them to be startled out there, not knowing what they’re doing. I want them to be comfortable.”
The best advice he has for his teammates is to know that the worst thing you can do on the pitch is be hesitant because that can lead to injuries.
However, Konrad is still in favor of a hard nose style of play that focuses on fundamentals. That’s the foundation of the Wizards’ style and a necessity for the forwards to up the intensity during games. For the Pine Bush, N.Y. native, being aggressive is crucial.
“I want to get physical,” Konrad said. “I want to get in their face. I want to be to the ball first. I don’t want someone running at me, I want to run at them. I want to hit them first. I think by doing that, the team gets in their head, morale gets broken and that’s basically when we impose our will on the other team.”
In his mind, the forwards’ game is Oswego State’s biggest weapon right now. Konrad has not seen a Wizards’ forward get taken down by a single tackler in a while. Usually, he said, it takes a group tackle to bring down an Oswego State big man because the forwards are always hitting the opposition in the mouth.
Keeping up that style of play is crucial to Konrad’s goals this season, as he wants to dominate the game and does not want to allow the other forwards to have any push whatsoever. He is fine with keeping his head down because the main focus is to go game by game.
Konrad feels if the Wizards can avoid becoming complacent, they can get back to the state championship for a second consecutive year. This time, Konrad expects Oswego State to bring home the crown that they were just 40 minutes away from claiming in 2012.
Konrad feels the 2013 team is full of talent and potential. He hopes they can build a reputation in their conference similar to the one carried by New Zealand’s professional squad, the All Blacks, a squad known as the New York Yankees of rugby for their continued success.
When the Wizards come up on teams’ schedules, Konrad wants them to think, “Wow, we’re going up against Oswego this week, it’s not going to be easy.”
Oswego State is currently undefeated in 2013 with three early season wins, their latest last weekend at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by a score of 59-14. This Saturday, the Wizards travel to Colgate University for a rematch of the 2012 state championship, where they are seeking redemption after coming up short just one year ago.