Watch any highlights of a rugby game and it is all about tries being scored and spectacular runs by the guys in the backs with the flash haircuts.

What is rarely shown is the scrum dominance by a tighthead prop over his opposite or a loosehead prop forcing his opponent to drop his bind and concede a crucial penalty.

But that is just how Bay of Plenty Steamers props Jeff Thwaites, 24, and Aidan Ross, 22, want it to be.

"We like it when you interview the backs," Ross said smiling, as he and Thwaites recovered from doing some after training wind sprints, typical of their work ethic.


Both Ross and Thwaites are Tauranga boys who have grown up playing in the Bay of Plenty system. They are young for props and admit to having much more to learn about the arts of power scrummaging.

Loosehead Ross has the higher profile, having played for NZ Under-20s and the Chiefs, while tighthead Thwaites is a converted Bay of Plenty loose forward who has only been a full time prop for two seasons.

But they have been two consistent performers in an inconsistent season for the Steamers.

"You are always learning at scrum time. You are never the finished product. I think the best way to learn is to actually get dusted up," Ross said.

"It doesn't take a genius to work out the first few rounds we were battling at scrum time and obviously weren't getting the dominance we have been getting in the last few rounds. So we took a few learnings out of the first few rounds for sure. I am always learning week by week and trying to improve."

Thwaites said the big emphasis for him was to do his core role well first.

"It just has been a massive focus for me and the rest of the pack to get our processes right before we do anything else. It is crucial having that platform to play off.

"This year there is a better understanding between a few of the boys who have been there for a couple of years now. In general the scrums have changed quite a bit from last year so we are continuously trying to adapt to the changes and come up with plans that we can execute."

Playing for the Bay of Plenty is in the family bloodline for Thwaites. His father Don played 17 games for the Bay between 1985 and 1986.

"We followed Te Puna around and carried on to following the Bay around. Some of my youngest footy memories are going to Bay games with dad, watching the Lions game or going to the shield challenge.

"It was definitely special for me when I was younger."

Saturday's game against Otago is a must-win for the Steamers if they want to have any chance of making the semifinals.

"Obviously for myself and every other person who pulls on that jersey this week is looking to put things right from last weekend [against Auckland]," Ross said.

"We have an opportunity this Saturday to right some wrongs. We are still in the hunt. It is not over just yet."

Mitre 10 Cup Championship
Bay of Plenty v Otago
Dunedin, Saturday, 2.35pm
Live SKY Sport, Radio Sport