ITM Cup: Coman's hand key concern

By Shane Hurndell

It takes more than a broken nose to keep Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team's captain Mike Coman off the field.

As Magpies coach Craig Philpott pointed out yesterday: "Mike's nose gets broken in just about every game he plays."

Coman, the Hurricanes Development team's captain for the past two years, collected a broken nose as well as a suspected broken hand in Sunday's 35-7 loss to Southland in Invercargill. Philpott was thrilled to report the hand wasn't broken.

"It's still badly swollen and at this stage it's too early to say whether Mike will be available for Friday night. If he doesn't play it will be because of his hand rather than the nose," Philpott said, referring to the Magpies' sixth-round ITM Cup clash against the Bay of Plenty Steamers at Napier's McLean Park.

This match is a must-win one for the Magpies in their quest to get off the bottom of the premiership points table and avoid relegation.

Coman, who has played 24 first-class games for the Magpies since his 2010 debut, is one of four key men on Philpott's "doubtful list" two days out from the match.

Decisions on these players' availability aren't expected until tomorrow's Captain's Run.

Crusaders winger Zac Guildford still isn't fully recovered from his hamstring injury collected in the fourth-round win against Counties Manukau.

Crusaders lock Ross Kennedy has a knee injury and Chiefs winger Tino Nemani a shoulder injury. Former New Zealand under-20s loosie Trent Boswell-Wakefield will miss the Steamers match with a knee injury collected in Invercargill.

Friday's 5.30pm curtainraiser will be the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Unison Cup final between Hurricanes champions Napier Boys' High School and Hastings Boys' High School. There will also be rippa rugby and pre-match entertainment from the Wise Real Estate Dancers. The Hawke's Bay 1st XV Pinetree Challenge will be the halftime entertainment.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union commercial manager Jay Campbell confirmed 5000 tickets had been sold for the match by midday yesterday. With fine weather expected and the in-form Steamers likely to have a decent following making the trip across State Highway 5, about 7000 fans are likely to be at the park.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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