Expect a better showing from Farriers Wairarapa-Bush when they take on Manawatu Development at Trust House Memorial Park in Masterton tomorrow night at 7pm.
After a pretty ordinary effort against Poverty Bay in Gisborne last weekend, head coach Joe Harwood said the heat is on individual players to step up if they want to cement their place in the playing-22.
Although Poverty Bay “looked pretty handy” Wairarapa-Bush lacked intensity, particularly on defence, and ultimately sold themselves short in the annual fixture.
“A lot of that came down to individuals not applying themselves . . . it is probably a good wake up call for a lot of us, coaches included,” Harwood says.
Despite giving up the Jeremy David Trophy – for the first time in seven years – there was still plenty of positives to come out of the 31-6 defeat in Gisborne.
Really pleasing was the dominance of the scrum, Harwood says. Wairarapa-Bush also created a number of opportunities, but weren’t able to finish.
“A large number of the guys put their hands up and played extremely well. Some of the senior guys would have been disappointed with their own performances,” he says.
At times Wairarapa-Bush looked like a team which hadn’t played a lot of footy together. Time is not on their side to rectify that with the opening round of the Heartland Championship kicking off the following Saturday. Wairarapa-Bush is away to fancied Wanganui.
“So what we need to do is make sure we are more assertive and apply ourselves a lot better.”
Whether or not Wairarapa-Bush will enjoy the same level of dominance in the scrum tomorrow night, as they did against Poverty Bay, is unclear. Injury could see prop Gerard Faitotoi and back-up front rower Matt Kawana sidelined for up to three weeks.
After missing the trip up the East Coast, Nick Hohepa is back on board and will partner with James Pakoti and Jacko Hull in the front row. Pioneer’s Jayden Mason moves onto the bench for cover along with Wellington-based hooker Andrew Jones.
Tomorrow night’s game will be a big opportunity for Regan Pope to push his case for inclusion in the Heartland-22, with the big Greytown lock called into the side, pairing with Andrew McLean in the second row.
Playing a full 80-minutes last weekend had Piri Weepu blowing pretty hard towards the end of game, however Harwood says the former All Black was inspirational.
Outside him was Sam Monaghan, but the makes way for Tim Priest who is switching from full-back.
“Sam is a class player and will be getting some game time, for sure. Tomorrow is the last chance for some guys to put their hand up and we will be making sure that everyone has an opportunity to prove themselves.”
Line-Up: 1 Nick Hohepa , 2 James Pakoti , 3 Jacko Hull , 4 Regan Pope , 5 Andrew McLean , 6 BJ Campbell , 7 Chris Raymond , 8 Eddie Cranston , 9 Piri Weepu , 10 Tim Priest , 11 Soli Malatai , 12 Cyrus Baker , 13 Robbie Anderson , 14 Nikora Ewe , 15 Nick Olson , 16 Hone Vella , 17 Andrew Jones , 18 Jake Warren , 19 Jayden Mason , 20 Chaz Matthews , 21 Sam Monaghan , 22 Inia Katia , 23 Reece Calkin , *Armyn Sanders , *Matt Kawana.