Andrew Smith injured his shoulder in Friday’s loss to North Otago. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood is on the hunt for locks after two experienced campaigners were injured in the second week of the Heartland Championship.

Veteran Andrew Smith suffered a shoulder injury early in the second half of Wai-Bush’s 11-25 loss to North Otago at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin on Friday night.

He could be out for about three weeks.

Of more concern is the injury captain James Goodger suffered after coming on as a substitute for the Heartland XV against Manu Samoa at Eden Park on Saturday.

Harwood confirmed that the influential Goodger had “popped” his shoulder and would likely be unavailable for the next four to six weeks.

It is the fourth or fifth time, Goodger has suffered serious shoulder injuries and it must create some doubt over his long-term playing future

To compound matters further, Harwood’s third experienced lock, Lachie McFadzean, also left the field with a minor head injury after 66 minutes in Dunedin.

Options are limited for Harwood, but could include an SOS to Gladstone veteran Andrew McLean who made the last of his 74 appearances for the green and reds in 2017.

Other possibilities could involve promoting locks from the development team or – one from out of left-field – calling up the vastly experienced Brent Wilson.

Although the 37-year-old’s club season with Carterton was cut short by injury, the ex-North Harbour, Northampton, and Newcastle Falcons player would add a wealth of experience.

The injury concerns don’t stop at the middle row though.

Vice-captain and centre Robbie Anderson is being monitored for a tight Achilles tendon, and livewire fullback Inia Katia is to undergo concussion testing this week.

Also missing for the next two games will be flying winger Logan Hebenton-Prendeville who has been named in the Heartland Under-19 squad for their national tournament.

Meanwhile, Harwood isn’t knocking his team’s endeavours in the loss to North Otago.

“The effort was there. What let us down was up front. We failed to secure the set pieces, our scrums and lineouts were not good enough.”

The Wai-Bush scrum was regularly under pressure from the huge North Otago pack and the lineout throws too often failed to connect with the jumpers.

What little ball they did get, the Bush backline created several try-scoring opportunities, only to be let down by poor execution.

“We looked dangerous and got in some good positions. But then we rushed our passing when we needed to be a bit more patient,” Harwood said.

The loss has dropped Bush to ninth in the championship after two rounds.

SCORES [home teams first]:

North Otago 25 Wairarapa-Bush 11, King Country 34 Buller 12, East Coast 15 Mid Canterbury 22, Horowhenua-Kapiti 21 West Coast 27, Poverty Bay 29 South Canterbury 40, Wanganui 30 Thames Valley 36.

STANDINGS after two rounds: West Coast 9 points; North Otago 8; Buller 5, South Canterbury 5, Thames Valley 5, Horowhenua-Kapiti 5, Mid Canterbury 5, King Country 5, Wairarapa-Bush 4, Poverty Bay 4, Wanganui, East Coast 1.