Turbos are keen for a winning start
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.