Rugby: ABs suiting up to do battle for ITM sides

By Campbell Burnes

As many as 10 current All Black squad members could appear in the ITM Cup over the next few days.

Israel Dagg may front for his beloved Hawkes Bay in Saturday's Shield challenge against Counties Manukau. Canterbury could have Colin Slade and Joe Moody for Thursday's fixture with Northland, while TJ Perenara and Jeremy Thrush may be in Wellington colours on Friday against Manawatu.

Nathan Harris is likely to be added to the Steamers side for Sunday's match-up with Taranaki though not, strangely, the underdone Sam Cane.

Auckland will have the services of Charles Piutau, Charlie Faumuina and Steven Luatua on Sunday playing Tasman.

Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow has already been named for Waikato in tomorrow night's clash with Taranaki, and could be available for Saturday against North Harbour.

That could be construed as bad news for those on the Shore, but Harbour's two losses to championship sides do not mean they will be cannon fodder for the Mooloos when they come to Albany.

Far from it, when you consider that two championship teams have already lowered premiership colours in this ITM Cup, and North Harbour showed marked improvement despite falling to a 25-21 defeat to Southland last Thursday.

"You've got to beat these teams and win your home games if you want to make the semifinals, so we want nothing less than a win for us this Saturday," said Harbour coach Steve Jackson.

The squad will be reviewing Waikato's 58-27 loss to Canterbury, and Jackson expects a full game plan to be in place today: "They are full of attacking flair, so we'll have to have a good kick-chase with their back three."

Happily for North Harbour, especially as they may face the evergreen Marty Holah, they were much improved at the breakdown, where Zak Judge and Jordan Manihera excelled, the former tackling as if his life depended on it.

- NZ Herald

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