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Isaac likely to miss Napier match

Tavita Isaac on the charge for Greytown against Martinborough on Saturday. A head knock could keep him out of Wairarapa-Bush’s match with Hawke’s Bay on Queen’s Birthday Monday. PHOTO/KYLIE ALEXANDER

By Gary Caffell

In-form Greytown No 8 Tavita Isaac is very unlikely to be available for Wairarapa-Bush’s non-championship rugby match with Hawke’s Bay at Park Island in Napier on Queen’s Birthday Monday.

Isaac is in the process of recovering from a knock to the head and Wairarapa-Bush head coach Joe Harwood said he “very definitely” would be rested if there was any doubt whatsoever about his fitness.

“Obviously, we would love to have him because he is playing so well but we won’t be taking any risks — there are plenty more important games to come.”

Isaac has only moved into the No 8 role on a regular basis over the past couple of seasons after formerly making a decent impact for Greytown as a pacy winger and he has made a huge impact with his assertive approach, both as a bruising runner on attack and for the tenacity of his close quarters defence.

Wairarapa-Bush could also be without former Counties-Manukau player, Armyn Sanders, for the Napier match with the Martinborough midfield back battling injury as well.

Like Isaac, he has been one of the star performers on the club scene and, if fit, would have been a leading contender to start at second-five or centre.

Another Martinborough player in flanker Chris Raymond has been brought into the Wairarapa-Bush side in place of Gladstone loosie Scott Harpham, who has made himself unavailable for rep rugby.

Raymond had to be one of the unluckiest players to miss out when the initial squad was named.

He was a regular member of the Heartland championship team a couple of seasons back and his speed to the breakdowns and strong tackling have been a major factor in Martinborough’s rise in the Tui Cup premier division club points table.

With club games being suspended over Queen’s Birthday weekend, Harwood and assistant coach James Bruce have pencilled in two training sessions for the Wairarapa-Bush squad this week — tonight and again on Thursday — with the emphasis on building combinations for what will be huge test against a classy Hawke’s Bay outfit.

“It’s a great opportunity for the young guys, in particular, to show they can at least be competitive against opposition which will be way stronger than what they are accustomed at club level,” Harwood said.

“Everything will be a step up and it will be interesting to see how they cope, both as individuals and as a team.”

Harwood said it was vital too that those in the rep squad were prepared to spend time doing their own strengthening and conditioning work so that they would be ready and primed for the Heartland championship.

“There are a lot of areas where the difference between club and rep rugby is huge, like carrying the ball into contact situations and competing for possession at the breakdowns.

“The players themselves need to be doing the extra yards to cope with those sorts of challenges.”

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