Quar­tet lost for ITM Cup play­offs

South Waikato News - - COMPETITION 2010 - By MATHEW GROCOTT

Just four Waikato play­ers will take part in the All Blacks end of year tour to Hong Kong, Great Bri­tain and Ire­land.

Stephen Don­ald, Si­tiveni Si­vi­vatu, Mils Mu­li­aina and Liam Mes­sam will make the five-match trip af­ter the 30-man squad was named on Sun­day.

Fel­low ti­tle con­tenders Can­ter­bury have had eight play­ers picked while Auck­land have six go­ing on tour.

Mu­li­aina has hardly worn the Waikato colours this sea­son thanks to in­ter­na­tional du­ties while Si­vi­vatu has been out with in­jury though he will be play­ing in Waikato’s fi­nal pool game this Fri­day against Can­ter­bury.

Mes­sam and Don­ald will be big losses for Waikato. Mes­sam has been strong all sea­son and Don­ald has played four fan­tas­tic games since re­turn­ing from in­jury. It is that form which has seen the first-five re­called to the All Blacks at the ex­pense of Manawatu’s Aaron Cru­den and Colin Slade of Can­ter­bury.

‘‘Stephen Don­ald is play­ing at a level he’s never played at be­fore,’’ All Blacks coach Gra­ham Henry said. ‘‘He’s been as­tro­nom­i­cal and has turned that Waikato side around, he’s been a game breaker for them and run that ship su­perbly.

‘‘It’s very dif­fi­cult on Colin Slade and Aaron Cru­den be­cause they’ve done ev­ery­thing they can.

‘‘They’ve played well too and talk­ing to them this morn­ing, I said to them ‘guys you can’t do any more, it’s no re­flec­tion on what you’ve tried to do, it’s a re­flec­tion on some­body else play­ing a wee bit bet­ter’.’’

Don­ald is the only back-up to Dan Carter in the squad so will ex­pect a heavy work­load as Carter re­cov­ers from an­kle surgery.

Mes­sam is one of just five loose for­wards in the squad and should be a reg­u­lar fea­ture off the bench.

Mu­li­aina will nat­u­rally be the firstchoice at full back and Si­vi­vatu will be com­pet­ing for the num­ber 11 jersey with cousin Joe Roko­coko and Welling­ton’s Hosea Gear.

Si­vi­vatu is the only All Black squad mem­ber in ITM Cup this week­end.

The Mooloos sit in third place equal with Auck­land on 40 points but with an in­fe­rior for and against to­tal.

Waikato host Can­ter­bury on Fri­day night. A win will seal a semi-fi­nal spot while a loss will leave Waikato wait­ing on other re­sults.

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