Rugby: Vital game for injury-hit Steamers

By Ben Guild

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Dan Hollinshead has been one of only a handful of players to be given an extended run in the same starting position during the Bay of Plenty Steamers 2014 ITM Cup campaign. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Hollinshead has been one of only a handful of players to be given an extended run in the same starting position during the Bay of Plenty Steamers 2014 ITM Cup campaign. Photo / Getty Images

The Bay of Plenty Steamers have been beset by injuries at a time when they could least afford it.

Four players have been ruled out with injury after the 41-3 loss to Taranaki on Sunday, and with Nathan Harris joining Sam Cane in the All Blacks squad ahead of this weekend's test match against Argentina, the Steamers side to play Manawatu tonight has a reshuffled look about it.

Captain Culum Retallick was the only forward remaining in the same position, with inside back combination Jono Kitto, Dan Hollinshead and Doug Edwards, and right winger Tino Nemani to be the only other players to don the same starting jerseys.

Injuries to standouts Joe Tupe and Te Rangi Fraser appeared the most serious, with Steamers coach Kevin Schuler saying both players are likely to be out for between four and six weeks.

Tupe fractured his eye socket during the heavy defeat to Taranaki, while Fraser played an outstanding hand after fracturing his jaw in the first 15 minutes.

His return this season was thought to be the most unlikely.

Minor injuries to Kane Hames (ankle) and Kimami Sitauti (groin) were not believed to be as serious.

Schuler said the team was under no illusions as to what was at stake tonight. "We want to get a win on the board and get the season under way. It's important this week, it's a big week for us.

"There's no doubt that this is a key part of our season and the guys are aware of it, but the big thing we want to see is a team that's playing with excitement and that level of passion. We know what they are capable of."

The task at hand - three games in seven days with only time and energy available for light training and captain's runs in between - was immense.

"With a short turnaround there isn't much you can do.

"Obviously we had some holes on defence, and I think they scored 21 points when we lost Siaosi Iongi to the bin, so we've got to make sure we shore up that defence and are more competitive at the breakdown to slow it down and get some line speed.

"We know that if we get line speed, we are a pretty dominant, physical tackling side."

Schuler said the side was trying to find a balance between being aggressive and over-committing at the breakdown.

Kick-off is at 7.35pm.

Steamers side to face Manawatu:

Starting XV:
1. Solomona Sakalia, 2. Joe Royal, 3. Siegfried Fisiihoi, 4. Culum Retallick, 5. Tim Bond, 6.
Johan Bardoul, 7. Hamish Gosling, 8. Carl Axtens, 9. Jono Kitto, 10. Dan Hollinshead, 11. Junior Tofa Va'a, 12. Doug Edwards, 13. Saiosi Iongi, 14. Tino Nemani, 15. Byron McGuigan.
Reserves:
16. Vyron Smith, 17. Mike Kainga, 18. Josh Sole, 19. Jesse Acton, 20. Te Aihe Toma, 21. Nic Evemy, 22. Leroy Van Dam.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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