Buller no easy-beats this time South Can­ter­bury coach says

The Timaru Herald - - News - Stu Pid­ding­ton

South Can­ter­bury rugby coach Nigel Walsh be­lieves Buller will be ‘‘a dif­fer­ent beast’’ in West­port today.

He said a num­ber of fac­tors have changed since the Green and Blacks notched a record 78-10 score against Buller last Satur­day in Ti­maru.

While Walsh still ex­pects to win com­fort­ably against the coun­try’s small­est union, he said Buller would be hurt­ing.

‘‘This time we have to travel. Buller have a gala day with ev­ery­one from un­der nines up play­ing so their whole com­mu­nity will be be­hind them.’’

Walsh said it was likely Buller would also add some depth to their side with play­ers re­turn­ing to their lineup who couldn’t travel last week­end.

‘‘You al­ways need to re­spect your op­po­si­tion.’’

Walsh has again been forced to make a num­ber of changes with sev­eral play­ers car­ry­ing in­juries.

Mid­field Zac Saunders is out with an an­kle in­jury giv­ing handy util­ity Jared Tre­vathan a start at sec­ond-five.

James Wil­son-Bishop comes on to the left wing for Kalavini Leati­gaga, who hasn’t been able to train.

Walsh has also opted to start Wil­lie Wright at half­back for the first time this sea­son with the in­form Theo David­son on the bench.

‘‘Theo has done noth­ing wrong at all but Wil­lie de­serves a start.’’

A train­ing col­li­sion on Thurs­day night has forced cap­tain Nick Stra­chan to with­draw so Pita Halai­fonua gets a start.

Prop Vaka Tael­ega’s promis­ing sea­son is over with a shoul­der in­jury so cen­tu­rion Matt Fetu comes on to the bench along with Ta­ufa Halau­fia.

The in­clu­sion of hook­ers Tim Caird and Cam Hucker in the sub­sti­tutes gives Walsh an abun­dance of front row choice.

The team is, how­ever, light on back re­serves with David­son the only one as Walsh goes with a sixone split in favour of the for­wards.

Walsh, who has a num­ber of for­wards who have ap­peared in club back­lines this sea­son, isn’t wor­ried.

‘‘It’s not ideal and we could have pushed Zac to play but I’m con­fi­dent we have the cover if needed.’’

Both ball-car­ry­ing loose for­wards, Halai­fonua and Siu Kakala, would not be out of place in the mid­field and Caird has ap­peared on the wing for Wai­mate.

The back­line this sea­son has al­ready lost full­back Marco Ma­son who has re­turned early to South Africa to pre­pare for his wed­ding while vice cap­tain Miles Medli­cott suf­fered a re­cur­ring neck in­jury.

Wing Sireli Buliru­arua has an an­kle in­jury while fel­low Fi­jian Petero Tuwai’s ab­sence from prac­tice means he was not con­sid­ered.

Buller is South Can­ter­bury’s penul­ti­mate game for the re­jigged Covid-19 cur­tailed sea­son.

The fi­nal game in Ti­maru will be against North Otago with the win­ner claim­ing the ti­tle new Hanan Shield Chal­lenge Se­ries ti­tle.

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