Steelform Wanganui co-coaches Jason Caskey and Jason Hamlin are reluctant to tamper too much with game plans for the must-win Heartland home match with North Otago on Saturday.

While there still may be mathematical chances to make the Meads Cup top four, a win with a bonus point would put them in the frame.

Hamlin put the woes of recent weeks down to trying to play dry track rugby on sodden grounds and both he and Caskey were looking forward to a fine weekend and drying Cooks Gardens surface.

But with five playmakers out through injury scoring four tries minimum and taking a win would not be easy against an in-form North Otago who is fourth in the standings with 24 points. Wanganui is fifth on 22 points.


Missing from the Steelform line-up is lock Sokonaia Kalou with an injured knee, flanker Angus Middleton, winger Jona Sawailau, both with knee problems and second five Timoci Seruwalu with a hand injury.

Incoming include the Robinson brothers from Kaierau, lock Cade and second five Ethan, winger Simon Dibben back from a hamstring injury and loose head lock Fraser Hammond been named on the bench. Jamie Hughes comes in for Middleton, while Campbell Hart's return will add strength in the locking department. Dane Whale steps in for Seruwalu, while Kaveni Dabenaise is in for Clare at centre.

While the Robinson brothers are both named on the bench, Caskey said Cade Robinson was likely to play for Wanganui Maori instead.

With the absence of Clare there is still ample cover for kicking duties with Nick Harding, Whale, Cody Hemi and even Ethan Robinson all capable with the boot.

"It's going to be difficult with five out, but it is what it is," Hamlin said.
"We've been trying to play dry weather rugby on wet grounds and it hasn't been working for us, but we wanted them to play their brand of rugby that's worked on dry tracks."

Caskey conceded despite the injury list, the team looked good enough on paper.

"They are all capable of doing the job. We know we need to win and with a bonus point - sounds easy when you say it like that," Caskey said.