James Goodger, right, will captain Wairarapa-Bush against Saracens. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Exciting backline

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

A lack of commitment from players has left Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood frustrated in the build-up to Monday’s pre-season match with Hawke’s Bay Saracens in Hastings.

Harwood has named a balanced starting XV, featuring a core group of experienced players and four debutants – hooker Bruce Kauika-Petersen, first-five Josh Pepperell, fullback Alex Priest, and winger Logan Prendeville-Heberton.

But as many as eight or nine players had made themselves unavailable for the match – the only representative game during the club season which takes a break for Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

“The lack of commitment is disappointing. The players need to put their hands up for games like this which are important for our Heartland season,” Harwood said on Thursday.

“I know players have work commitments and work in industries that are busy at this time of the year, but the lack of communication is not acceptable. The attitude of some of the guys is not good enough.”

James Goodger, from Marist, will lead the side from his favoured blindside flanker position.

Goodger captained the side last year and his value to the team cannot be underestimated.

He can easily play at lock but at 1.92m and only 90kg, he is much better suited to the flanker role where he is expert at forcing turnovers and provides a great option at the back of the lineout.

Gladstone’s Ryan Knell takes the openside role with Eketahuna’s Sam Shaw at No 8.

The tight five have a workmanlike look about it, with Eketahuna’s Sam Gammie and Marist’s Jeramiah Mapusua the starting props and Kauika-Petersen at hooker.

Veterans Andrew Smith [Gladstone] and Lachie McFadzean [Carterton] fill the middle row.

Harwood has high hopes for Kauika-Petersen, a former Wairarapa College star, who is now playing for the Northern United club in Wellington and has been in the Wellington Lions’ programme.

“Bruce brings us depth at hooker and can also play at openside flanker.

“He’s a physical ball-carrier and a strong defender and he has shown some good leadership skills.”

Pepperell, Eketahuna’s pivot, has been good but not spectacular at directing his club team around the field and has been in consistent goal-kicking form. He will be expected to take on the defensive line more than he has shown.

Carterton players will be either side of Pepperell, with Daryl Pickering at halfback and former flanker Brock Price at second-five.

Harwood rates Price only a 50-50 chance of playing with a groin strain hampering his preparation.

If Price is ruled out that would have Greytown’s Usoalii Samuel Ulavade make his debut.

Harwood is excited about the potential of the outside backs.

Centre Robbie Anderson has been in the form of his life with Eketahuna and he will have two rookies in Prendeville-Heberton on one wing and Priest at fullback.

Another relative newcomer, Moo Moo Falaniko [Greytown] will be on the other wing.

“Logan is fresh out of school and has been scoring some great individual tries out wide for Gladstone and he deserves to be given an opportunity, while Alex has been part of a consistent Martinborough back-three and he’s got plenty of gas and can take a gap.”

Meanwhile, two former Wairarapa-Bush rising stars have been named in a Wellington XV.

First-five Isaac Bracewell, who played for Carterton in 2018, and former Waicol flanker Sam Smith, who made the New Zealand Secondary Barbarians’ team in 2018, have been included in the team to play a Manawatu XV in Levin on Monday.

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush team to play HB Saracens

Alex Priest, Logan Prendeville-Heberton, Moo Moo Falaniko, Robbie Anderson, Brock Price, Josh Pepperell; Daryl Pickering; Sam Shaw, James Goodger, Ryan Knell, Andrew Smith, Lachie McFadzean, Jeramiah Mapusua, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Sam Gammie.

Reserves: James Pakoti, Nicholas Hohepa, Vincent Liardet-Smith, Clinton Keil Skelton, BJ Campbell, Joe Tako, Paddy Gluck, Usoalii Samuel Ulavade, Inia Katia, Ausage Faumui.

Match to be played at Hawkes Bay Sports’ Complex, Hastings, Monday, 1pm