Softball: Nukunuku late call-up

Hawke's Bay's Manley on standby Two-time world champion softballer Nathan Nukunuku has been called into the Black Sox as a late replacement for the world championships which begin in North Harbour on Friday.

Unlucky to miss original selection for the Tradestaff championships in December, Auckland infielder Nukunuku has been included as injury cover for injured captain Rhys Casley and will replace rookie Jerome Haretuku on the 17-man roster. Second baseman Casley has been battling for fitness since shoulder surgery late last year and aggravated his injury during last week's Dean Schick Tournament at the Rosedale Park world tournament venue.

While he seems capable of fulfilling his duties with the bat, his ability to operate at 100 per cent in the field is questionable and Nukunuku has been recalled to cover that contingency.

"Rhys is an integral member of this Black Sox side, and is our leader on and off the diamond," coach Eddie Kohlhase said.

"He can still hit and we plan to use him as required during the tournament, but to cover the possible loss of a specialist infielder, we've added Nathan."

Haretuku, in his first world championship campaign, has drawn the short straw to make way for Nukunuku.

"Rhys' injury has changed the dynamic of our team and we were forced to make a difficult decision that would cost someone their place through no fault of their own," Kohlhase explained.

"Jerome has worked hard for his chance, and we certainly cannot fault his dedication and contribution to the team. I know he's disappointed, but I also know he's young enough to help us win world titles for a while to come."

The Black Sox spent last week in a remote Northland location and have now re-assembled for the world championship in Auckland. They are scheduled to play the Czech Republic in a warm-up game at Simpson Park Penrose today.

Hawke's Bay's Regan Manley has been named as the standby pitcher for the side in the wake of Wellingtonian Karl Gollan's decision to return to the United States for work commitments. Should any of the Black Sox pitchers be injured before Thursday and be forced to withdraw from the championships Manley will replace them.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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