Magpies hoping to catch more in south

By Shane Hurndell


Several of the Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team went on a hunt for kaimoana at Central Hawke's Bay's Pourere Beach on Thursday.

The expedition, which involved centre Marvin Karawana, hooker Ash Dixon, props Jodi Allen and Pete Borlase and blindside flanker Trent Boswell-Wakefield, reflected some of the Magpies play to date in the ITM Cup.

It was a tactical mess.

"Yes ... Ash read the tide charts wrong. We got there and it was high tide instead of low tide so instead of returning to the car with some kina, paua and crayfish we returned empty handed," Karawana said with a laugh.

"We ended up going to the fish and chip shop to get a feed."

Wellingtonian Karawana hopes his first ITM Cup start for the Magpies in tomorrow's crossover clash against the Southland Stags in Invercargill will have a more favourable result than Thursday's expedition.

"We've prepared well during the week. It's a must-win game so we will give it our all," Karawana, 26, said.

A hamstring injury collected in the pre-season win against Manawatu prevented Karawana, a former Newcastle Knights NRL player, from playing in the cup until his short stint off the bench against Taranaki last week.

"I'm pretty excited ... this is a chance to test myself against some of the top players from around the country," Karawana said after yesterday's training session at Napier's McLean Park.

He is enjoying his time in Napier and described it as a "laid back place similar to Newcastle".

"The Magpies boys are a good bunch. All of the Super boys are leaders and there is always plenty of friendly banter going on."

He is unsure whether he will be back in the Bay next year and he knows his form during the coming weeks could make the decision for him.

A Wellington Sevens representative in the past, Karawana is already being scrutinised by the Hawke's Bay Sevens coaching staff as a possible candidate for this summer.

"I'm just a fill-in for Sevens ... I play it to keep the fitness up so I don't blow out," he said with a laugh.

A Wainuiomata club player in the capital, Karawana has a knack of producing Sonny Bill Williams-type unloads. He laughed when reminded about the "Wainui SBW" nickname he had during the club season.

"I don't have Sonny Bill's ability but if the unloads are on I will give them a go."

Dixon's replacing of Chiefs rake Hika Elliot is one of six changes Magpies coaches Craig Philpott and Danny Lee have made to their starting XV used in last week's 22-6 Ranfurly Shield challenge loss against Taranaki in New Plymouth. The other change to the pack sees Boswell-Wakefield replace Adam Bradey at blindside flanker as Bradey has a gluteal strain which may also see him miss next Friday night's match against Bay of Plenty.

Boswell-Wakefield will increase the Magpies' lineout options. Elliot gets a rest after starting in the last three games.

"Ash will bring some excitement and we need to freshen things up with another game five days later," Philpott said.

"At the same time we will be looking to Hika to provide impact off the bench."

Changes to the backline see versatile Chief Andrew Horrell replace Gillies Kaka at fullback, Kaka replace Nick McLennan on the left wing, Karawana replace Tua Saseve at centre and Saseve replace Horrell at second five-eighth.

Five changes have been made to the subs bench. They see Elliot in for Dixon, former Crusader Pete Borlase in for Brendon Edmonds, Kieran Coll in for Maselino Paulino and McLennan takes Karawana's berth.

"We want to apply some pressure at scrum time. While Brendon [Edmonds] has done an amicable job we want to travel south with two specialist tightheads and see Borlase do some damage off the bench," Philpott explained.

The Magpies former All Black winger Zac Guildford continues to make rapid progress with his recovery from a hamstring injury and Philpott said if he doesn't return for the Bay of Plenty match Guildford will be ready for the September 29 clash against Otago.

While championship outfit Southland are winless after four matches the Stags boast too much talent to be taken lightly.

Former All Black prop Jamie Mackintosh, former All Black halfback Jimmy Cowan and Chiefs fullback Robbie Robinson are all quality players.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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