Logan Flutey [in green] is set to make his debut for Wairarapa-Bush. PHOTO/FILE

Anderson’s season over

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Three sets of brothers have been named in the Farriers Wairarapa-Bush team to play Poverty Bay in a crunch Heartland Championship game at Memorial Park today.

The four Tufuga brothers – captain Kirk, Ueta, Sam, and Max are joined by the Martinborough quartet, Tim and Alex Priest, and Tristan and Logan Flutey.

For two of them, the match will mark their debuts.

Alex Priest has been named as outside back cover, and Logan Flutey provides the loose forward cover.

Coach Joe Harwood said on Thursday both had outstanding club seasons for the champion Martinborough side.

“Alex was very good in the Martinborough backline, he’s quick and gives good cover in the back three.

“Injuries had kept Logan out of the squad. He had played the latter part of the club season with a broken thumb. It’s a good opportunity, he’s an exciting player.”

In one of only two changes to the starting line-up from last Saturday’s win over King Country, the experienced Tim Priest comes on to the wing but will likely interchange with fullback Inia Katia.

With rain forecast for this afternoon, Tim Priest’s kicking game could prove vital.

The other change comes at blindside flanker, with Sam Shaw, who had an outstanding game against King Country unavailable due to a family bereavement.

He is replaced by Eketahuna teammate BJ Campbell, who scored two tries after coming on as a substitute in the King Country game.

However, there could be further changes, depending on how players fronted at last night’s training.

Impressive centre Ueta Tufuga is in doubt after he stood on a nail at work.

Harwood said the midfield back couldn’t put any pressure on it..

If Ueta Tufuga is ruled out, veteran Cameron Hayton, who has been named in the reserves will come into the starting XV.

Harwood also confirmed that regular centre and vice-captain Robbie Anderson is out for the rest of the season.

“Robbie picked up an infection from the [Memorial Park] turf. He thought it might’ve been an Achilles injury, but the infection has gone through his ankle, and he’s gone under the knife this week, and is in a moonboot.”

The Heartland Championship is only in its fourth round and Harwood has already named 31 players in his teams.

Despite the injury disruptions, Harwood is confident he has the team to knock over Poverty Bay and is predicting a high-scoring game.

“They’ve got a good kicking game. They like to play an expansive running game, with quick ball from the breakdowns, and they play a similar style to us.”

“We need to be patient and hold the ball for long periods.

“We also need to get our lineouts right, which were a shambles last week.”

With only four points covering the top six teams, the importance of today’s game has not been lost on Harwood.

“It’s massive for both teams. After this weekend, we’ll start to see a gap develop in the competition, and we need to nail another win.”

Wai-Bush are fifth=equal in the championship on nine points, with Poverty Bay on six points from one win and two losses.

Wai-Bush team to play Poverty Bay

Inia Katia, Tim Priest, Ueta Tufuga, Brock Price, Tristan Flutey, Tipene Haira, Daryl Pickering, Kirk Tufuga, Johan van Vliet, BJ Campbell, Brent Wilson, Lachie McFadzean, Sam Tufuga, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Sam Gammie.

Reserves: Elijah-James Pakoti, Max Tufuga, Andrew McLean, Logan Flutey, Bryan Arnold, Cameron Hayton, Alex Priest.

Kick-off 2.30pm today, Trust House Memorial Park.