Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team's head coach Mark Ozich is anticipating a few curse glances from the province's premier club coaches tomorrow.
Ten of Ozich's players were on the injured list after last night's 29-24 win against the Manawatu Evergreens in Palmerston North. The match was called off with 10 minutes remaining.
"When the ambulance came on for Will Tremain in the 70th minute we were down to 14 players. It was a physical game and while we had a lot of injuries Manawatu had nothing major. That can be the nature of the beast when it comes to rugby," Ozich said.
Substitute flanker Tremain was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. He had a huge gash from his knee down to his ankle.
Prop Joe Apikotoa will be sidelined for three to four weeks with a knee injury. Flanker Ricky Hayes will be out for a similar period with a shoulder injury.
Locks Tom Parsons and Lui Luamanu will be sidelined for up to four weeks with respective shin and knee injuries. First five-eighth Lincoln McClutchie has a groin injury and will be sidelined for two weeks.
Utility back Danny Toala and lock Sam Ulufonua will both be out of action for two to three weeks with ankle injuries and winger Mitch Drew and No 8 Solomone Funaki face at least two weeks with spectator roles after collecting calf and hip injuries respectively.
Considering the steady flow of injuries Ozich had every right to be proud of the display. He said fullback JJ Taulagi, who scored two tries, and second five-eighth Sasa Tofilau were regular threats.
Funaki continued his superb club form with powerful carries and brutal defensive work. Ozich was impressed with the Magpies scrum which won several tightheads.
The starting front row of props Jason Long and Apikotoa and hooker Jacob Devery combined well and props Pouri Rakete-Stones and Mark Braidwood provided quality impact off the pine.
"We were pretty dominant at scrum time. I'm pretty happy with how the team went," Braidwood said after his 30-minute contribution.
"Looking at previous years we haven't gone too well down here. All of these injuries are part of rugby ... hopefully we've got them all out of the way now and we will be firing come Mitre 10 Cup time," Braidwood, 31, said.
"My goal is another Mitre 10 Cup contract," he added.
Ozich admitted his troops lost their shape at lineout time. The injuries to Parsons, Luamanu, Hayes and Ulufonua contributed to this.
"We only had Ben for one training session which isn't a lot of time to build combinations. You can't expect him to throw bullets straight away," Ozich said, referring to new hooker Ben Power.
Ozich pointed out there were some positive signs from the Magpies defensive systems and he gave the chop tackles box a huge tick. He was also impressed with the halfback-first five-eighth combination of Folau Fakatava and McClutchie who were in the starting XV together for the first time at this level after being key architects for the national title-winning Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV last year.
"Lincoln poked his nose through the Evergreens defensive line a couple of times," Ozich said.
The Magpies next pre-season outing will be against Waikato in Taupo on August 4.
Hawke's Bay Magpies 29 (JJ Taulagi 2, Mitch Drew, Folau Fakatava, Hannon Brighouse tries; Lincoln McClutchie, Tianua Poto cons), Manawatu Evergreens 24.