Glen Walters attacking for Wairarapa-Bush against Wanganui. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Wairarapa-Bush’s injury woes have been put firmly in the spotlight ahead of today’s final pre-season hit-out against Manawatu Development in Dannevirke [1pm].

Five potential starters are on the injured list, with another unavailable for other reasons.

Captain Cyrus Baker is out for an undetermined length of time after suffering an Achilles injury against the New Zealand Army, and he is joined on the sidelines by Sam Gammie, Tipene Haira, Marcus Ale and Epeli Rayaqayaqa.

Centre Robbie Anderson is also unavailable.

Lock James Goodger will captain the side once again in Baker’s absence, and despite the long injury list there are only four changes in personnel to the starting XV that took the field last week against Wanganui, along with a few positional switches.

The backline remains unchanged with the exception of the right wing, where Sean Law replaces Tristan Flutey.

In the forwards, No 8 Kirk Tufuga returns and pushes Sam Shaw to blindside flanker, with Goodger moving from the loose forwards to the second row.

Andrew Smith moves from the second row to the bench, but will be expected to add plenty of impact when he takes to the field.

Up front, regular hooker James Pakoti moves to prop to accommodate Nick Hohepa, while Max Tufuga starts in the No 1 jersey.

Today’s match was the last chance for the players to impress coach Joe Harwood and his selectors before next week’s opening Heartland Championship match against Poverty Bay in Gisborne.

Wairarapa-Bush

Nick Olson, Sean Law, Matt Henderson, Mike Lealava’a, Soli Malatai, Glen Walters, Inia Katia, Kirk Tufuga, Ryan Knell, Sam Shaw, Lachie McFadzean, James Goodger [c], James Pakoti, Nick Hohepa, Max Tufuga.
Reserves: Lance Buchanan, Jerry Mapusua, Andrew Smith, Tavita Isaac, Conan Gray, Paddy Gluck, Thomas Potoru, TBC.