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Goodger and Gammie boost

Sam Gammie will play his 50th game for Wai-Bush. PHOTOS/FILE

The return of Farriers Wairarapa-Bush captain James Goodger and the versatile Sam Gammie for today’s Heartland Championship clash with West Coast in Greymouth adds much-needed experience to the struggling side, who are without a win after five rounds.

Loose forward Goodger [hamstring] and utility forward Gammie [calf muscle] have been sidelined since suffering their injuries in training in the lead-up to the Horowhenua-Kapiti clash three weeks ago, and their absence has been sorely felt.

James Goodger, with ball, returns to captain Wai-Bush against West Coast.

Goodger’s return provides another option at lineout time, where the Green and Reds have struggled with inconsistency throughout the five games, and his skills in the loose and with ball in hand add another dimension, while Gammie, who is named on the bench and will make his 50th appearance for the union, brings an assertiveness to the breakdown and as a powerful ball runner in the open.

Interestingly, Gammie has been named as a replacement prop, a position he has successfully filled previously, but don’t be surprised if the Eketahuna powerhouse comes on to provide impact in his favoured loose forward role.

Gammie’s naming as a front rower comes after the loss to injury of the two regular starting props, former Tongan international Tolu Fahamokioa, and Zimbabwe international Doug Juszczyk.

Matt Masoe is named to start at lock ahead of veteran Andrew Smith, who will start on the bench, in the only other change in the forward pack.

The breakdown, where referee Maggie Cogger-Orr was quick to blow Wai-Bush for even the most minor of infringements in the 19-73 loss to South Canterbury last Saturday, was the main aspect highlighted by Goodger where significant improvement is needed for the team to become more competitive.

“We have to be clinical at our ruck time, and she [Cogger-Orr] blew up pretty quickly but in saying that our support players have got to be there,” Goodger said.

“Ruck time 100 per cent, we need to be really clinical at our ruck and also the set piece, especially the lineout. Our scrum is going well but if we can just start winning a bit more at the lineout, and our own rucks, that will change the game for us.”

Goodger said the coaches went right back to the basics for Tuesday’s training in an attempt to rectify the problems that have plagued the side and is confident if the players can carry on from that there are promising signs for today.

Coach Mark Rutene has made three changes in the backline with attack in mind.

First-five Aidan Champion showcased his attacking skills with a brilliant kick and chase try against South Canterbury after coming on in the second half, and starts ahead of Tipene Haira, who has moved to the bench.

Tristan Flutey moves in one place from the wing to centre, while the hugely promising and powerful runner Charles Mataitai starts on the wing after overcoming a leg injury and impressing for the Wai-Bush Barbarians in their win over Thames Valley Development last weekend.

Veteran Inia Katia, in line to play his 99th game for the province, will bring impact from the bench.

West Coast are also without a win in five games but have picked up five bonus points, compared with Wai-Bush’s two. Goodger admits to knowing little about today’s opposition and is focusing more on his team’s performance. Although the chances of Wai-Bush making the Lochore Cup are a remote long shot, Goodger is not giving up and is hopeful of a strong finish to the season.

“We’re down on the table, but we can win this weekend. There are good signs, we’re moving forward from a couple of weeks ago, and that’s good. We’re targeting all three and our target now is to try and sneak into that Lochore Cup.

“I’m confident enough, and a bit of belief goes a long way.”

Meanwhile, there is a disappointment for the Wai-Bush women’s team, who were scheduled to complete their season with their only home game of their short Heartland campaign – Whanganui have withdrawn from today’s game.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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