A_27091420HBTpies.JPG Magpies lock Isaia Walker-Leawere attempting to charge down Ereatara Enari's kick for Canterbury. Photo / Paul Taylor
"Cruisy" Hawke's Bay Magpies lock Isaia Walker-Leawere is more than happy to have played most of his minutes off the bench this season.
The 23-year-old got a rare start against Taranaki in the Magpies' 34-33 win last Sunday, but has spent much of the Mitre 10 Cup campaign playing third fiddle to starting second rowers Geoff Cridge and Tom Parsons.
Walker-Leawere said he doesn't mind coming off the bench, and would not be bothered at all if he is named as a substitute once again for Saturday's semifinal against the same opposition.
"I'm just a cruisy guy that's happy to play rugby with the boys," he said, adding that Parsons and Cridge have both had great seasons.
"I'm not really cold about it ... I'm just happy to do my part when I come on."
The Hurricanes man has played that role tremendously in 2020, making a significant impact on the Magpies side that finished first in the Championship division regular season.
"Everyone's just willing to work for each other and just work together," Walker-Leawere said.
"We put in the work in training, and it shows. Even the ones that aren't playing, they always put in the hard yards that no one sees."
He said the key to Hawke's Bay beating Taranaki again would be working on themselves and playing to their full potential, which they have been able to do in patches this year.
"I think on our day no one can stop us really," Walker-Leawere said.
"Our forward pack has got a focus of trying to be the best in the comp, so we've always gotta front up every week no matter who we're going against."
The lock added that while Hawke's Bay will be better off for having played and beaten Taranaki in Inglewood, the prospect of finals football could make it a totally different story on Saturday at McLean Park.
"You never know what they're gonna throw at us, it's do or die," he said.
That's why the Magpies are hoping for a big home crowd come kick-off at 4.35pm, which should be bolstered thanks to the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union making the match free to attend after last week's flooding in Napier.
"It's good to give something back to the community," Walker-Leawere said.
"Obviously, with the floods, it's been a challenging time for a few families, so hopefully we can put a smile back on their faces."