The Bay of Plenty Steamers are facing an injury crisis after just one match in the Mitre 10 Cup.

The wear and tear on players in this competition is well known but it seems the Steamers have been hit harder than most ahead of Sunday's clash in Pukekohe against their second consecutive Premiership opponents in the Counties Manukau Steelers.

But assistant coach Rodney Gibbs says that is why so much time went into putting together a strong, balanced squad.

"The injury toll is growing and we are getting down to the bare bones a little bit but I am happy with the squad though," he said.


"Hopefully the depth is going to show through but we don't want too many more injuries this weekend. The boys who are playing are ready to go, no complaints, they are all of good ability and should do the job.

"We are confident in the boys that are here. It is like how people say it is a 23-man game. Well it is a 30-man squad so you need everyone to be able to play in that 23."

Bay of Plenty and Counties Manukau both lost their opening match, with the Steamers going down 30-22 to Taranaki and the Steelers being tipped over 20-17 by North Harbour in the opening game of the competition.

Gibbs says the loss to Taranaki and particularly the reason for the poor first half performance has been analysed during the week.

"The boys pretty much came up with what they thought was not quite right.

"We pulled it all to pieces obviously and felt we were probably just a little bit flat heading into the game and our warm-up probably wasn't great.

"We have worked really hard this week on communication which is really important. We probably just missed a beat a little bit and there was a little bit of tension from being first game up, which probably all culminated into a slow start really.

"We feel like we have made some good gains this week."

Nothing less than an intense physical battle awaits the Steamers in Pukekohe from a Steelers team that have had 10 days to chew over losing to Harbour.

"There are some big men in that team, some big men," Gibbs said.

"We are going to have to be really good at set piece. Obviously we started slow in that area as well last week. The boys have worked really hard this week on getting that up to scratch.

"Hopefully our fitness levels will help us near the back end of the first half and towards the end of the second half.

"But we are going to have to be right on our toes and defensively be very, very sharp."

The Steamers have named experienced Kelly Haimona at first five after Dan Hollinshead received a head injury against Taranaki.

Te Rangi Fraser will start at fullback in place of Chase Tiatia who has been ruled out with a broken tibia sustained against Taranaki.

New Zealand Sevens player Regan Ware will be looking to make his debut for the Steamers off the bench after returning from the Rio Olympics.

Bay of Plenty Steamers team v Counties Manukau
ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, Sunday, 4.35pm

1. Siegfried Fisi'ihoi
2. Liam Polwart
3. Pingi Tala'apitaga
4. Culum Retallick (c)
5. Keepa Mewett
6. Jesse Parete
7. Hugh Blake
8. Joe Tupe
9. Te Aihe Toma
10. Kelly Haimona
11. Isaac Te Aute
12. Terrence Hepetema
13. Lalakai Foketi
14. Monty Ioane
15. Te Rangi Fraser

16. James O'Reilly
17. Aidan Ross
18. Jeff Thwaites
19. Troy Callander
20. Shahn Eru
21. Henry Stowers
22. Ruki Tipuna
23. Regan Ware