Should new Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby loosie Matt Gardner bounce back from his latest season-ending injury to have a crack the Mitre 10 Cup squad next year he will be wise to consider a new clause in his contract.
It will be one which will exclude him from pre-season games in Palmerston North. This season's Hawke's Bay club rugby MVP, Gardner, 24, broke his arm during the Magpies 38-5 pre-season loss to the Manawatu Turbos at the Central Energy Trust Arena last night.
"It's the same injury he collected in the same game last year. We're devastated for him," Magpies head coach Craig Philpott said as Gardner headed off to Manawatu Hospital for X-rays.
Gardner's injury was one of several collected before and during the match and several of the Magpies were hit by illness but Philpott refused to use these factors as excuses for the loss.
"I was really disappointed with our lack of physicality. Yes we still have players who are yet to return from Super Rugby but I was disappointed with the attitude of those who played tonight ... they let the black and white jersey down."
Hurricanes training squad member and New Zealand Provincial Barbarians starting centre against the British and Irish Lions, Jonah Lowe, was a late withdrawal from the side with a foot stress fracture. Philpott said Lowe will miss a significant part of the Cup campaign.
This injury saw former Hurricane Cardiff Vaega switch from second five-eighth to centre and Blues training squad member Pasqualle Dunn start in the No 12 jersey.
Veteran halfback Chris Eaton collected a groin injury early in the first half.
With both contracted halfbacks, former All Black Brad Weber and Ellery Wilson, still on the injured list for another three weeks at least the other injury-cover No 9 Zac Donaldson, who added plenty of spark and proved he can cope at this level when he took the field, is the only fit halfback.
Philpott said it was highly likely Donaldson would start in next Saturday's Mitre 10 Cup Championship opener and Saracens halfback Jayden Rihia would be promoted to provide cover on the bench.
Philpott was to decide late last night if Rihia would be pulled from today's Saracens match against the Whanganui Heartland team at Park Island so he avoided the possibility of collecting an injury.
"There were plenty of other players with soft tissue injuries but it was their pride which took the biggest hit. They've got a chance to put that right next week," Philpott said.
And the illness?
"Two or three of them were coughing and spluttering before the game but at least they were prepared to go out and play," Philpott replied.
He pointed out his troops are still coming to grips with their new attacking systems and this contributed to the Magpies high error rate.
"The boys struggled to see when opportunities were there at times but the try Tiaan [Falcon] scored resulted from good patience under that system," Philpott said referring to Falcon's 67th minute try.
He was impressed with world champion Baby Black Falcon's display in both the fullback and first five-eighth positions.
Hawke's Bay age group product and Turbos substitute hooker Tim Cadwallader scored two of the hosts tries. Turbos supporters were surprised by the dominance their forwards enjoyed at scrum and lineout time.
Former Magpie Tom Parsons and fellow Manawatu lock, in-form Highlander Jackson Hemopo, contested the lineouts well. The Turbos starting front row of props Sione Asi and Fraser Armstrong and hooker Hunter Prescott combined well.
Turbos halfback Jamie Booth was outstanding before he was subbed at halftime. The Turbos defended well particularly during a couple of periods when they were heavily penalised.
Improving their physicality levels will be high on the agenda when the Magpies assemble in Dannevirke for their pre-season camp tomorrow.
While Magpies fans have every right to be slightly alarmed it must be remembered captain and hooker Ash Dixon, fellow Highlander, utility back Richard Buckman, Hurricanes prop Ben May and Weber were among certain starters, when fit, missing from last night's squad.
With a win each way during the pre-season encounters the October 15 match between the Turbos and Magpies at McLean Park will be the decider. It's the only one which counts as far as Championship points are concerned.
■Scorers: Manawatu Turbos 38 (Tim Cadwallader 2, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Sione Asi, Ambrose Curtis, Kayne Hammington tries; Jade Te Rure 3, Ben Wyness cons), Hawke's Bay Magpies 5 (Tiaan Falcon try). HT: 14-0.