Tur­bos are keen for a win­ning start

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY! -

Manawatu Rugby boss John Knowles is hop­ing Waikato will ap­proach the first home game of the Tur­bos’ rugby sea­son with dread.

When the teams last played at Arena Manawatu in 2011, Waikato was trounced 54-20 and Knowles would like to see a re­peat of the same score.

The Tur­bos squad as­sem­bled un­der cap­tain Cal­lum Gib­bins on July 16 and know they face some de­mand­ing op­po­si­tion now they’ve been el­e­vated to the premier di­vi­sion of the ITM Cup.

‘‘The Tur­bos are keen to back up last year’s per­for­mance and show how good they are,’’ Knowles says.

‘‘There’s depth in our play­ers, with 11 of them be­ing in­cluded in Su­per 15 teams.’’

He says Tur­bos sup­port­ers will look to great per­for­mances from such play­ers as Otere Black, Hamish North­cote, Jason Emery, Kane Ham­ming­ton and Gib­bons him­self, all of whom proved their worth at Su­per 15 level.

Knowles says sup­port­ers should look out for Hei­den Bed­well-Curtis who, he pre­dicts, will have a big year and aim for a Su­per 15 con­tract in 2016.

The 2.30pm match on Au­gust 22 against Waikato will be spe­cial. Not only will it be a clash against a tough op­po­nent, but it’s old timers’ day where for­mer Manawatu play­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors are in­vited back to Arena Manawatu to see their cur­rent team in ac­tion. It also co­in­cides with the New Zealand Rugby Mu­seum’s Balls, Bul­lets and Boots ex­hi­bi­tion, which will be launched shortly af­ter the game ends.

The Waikato match is cru­cial for Manawatu to start their home games well.

‘‘We’re aim­ing to be as high up the lad­der as pos­si­ble and be in the play-offs at the end of the sea­son,’’ Knowles says.

‘‘The play­ers will also want to see coach Jason O’Hal­lo­ran go out on a big note.’’

O’Hal­lo­ran leaves the Tur­bos at the end of the year, to join Scot­land’s coach­ing staff and will be re­placed by as­sis­tant coach Jeremy Cotter next year.

Tur­bos lock Mike Fitzger­ald se­cures the ball in a li­ne­out when the Tur­bos met Waikato in Palmer­ston North in 2011. The Tur­bos de­feated the Mooloos 54-20 in that game.

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