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Nervous wait for Wai-Bush coach

Hooker James Pakoti attacking against Horowhenua-Kapiti. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
[email protected]

Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood will be keeping a nervous eye on tonight’s round of Tui Cup matches.

Harwood already has 13 people unavailable or injured ahead of Monday’s pre-season clash with Hawke’s Bay Saracens and can’t afford to lose any more.

Two weeks ago he named a 31-man squad to prepare for this match, but now he may not even be able to name his team until after Sunday’s final training session.

“I’ll have my fingers crossed for Friday night – we’ve got 13 out or injured but it’s an opportunity for those guys who come in,” Harwood said.

“It really tests your depth, but that’s what happens at Heartland level so it’s not the worst thing for us . . . it’ll be a good battle for our guys and we will need to lift.”

Wairarapa-Bush were beaten 6-32 by Horowhenua-Kapiti earlier this month but the scoreline did not reflect their performance.

They failed to capitalise on the opportunities they created and that is something that will need to change on Monday.

“Against Horowhenua-Kapiti we failed to finish so there will be a focus on nailing those opportunities – we created plenty of chances but didn’t make the most of it,” Harwood said.

“We need to be more accurate – we’re up against bigger bodies and this team has dominated us in the past, but it’s still a trial game for our players and we need a step up in physicality and intensity.”

Aside from the host of missed opportunities to build a lead against Horowhenua-Kapiti, Harwood said focus would also be on ball retention and targeting weak shoulders when taking the ball into contact.

“We turned over a lot of ball and you just can’t do that at this level and get away with it.

“It highlighted the difference between club rugby and rep rugby.”

Wairarapa-Bush’s cause has not been helped by the club rugby season, with clear front-runners dominating the Tui Cup competition.

“I think we’re struggling in club rugby,” Harwood said.

“There’s four teams dominating and they deserve to, but I don’t think our guys are being tested week in, week out, the way we would like them to be.”

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