Manawatu Standard

Booth pulls out of the Turbos season

- George Heagney

Star halfback Jamie Booth has withdrawn from the season as the Manawatu¯ Turbos have their first pre-season outing of the year today.

Manawatu¯ have a game of three halves in Taupo¯ , playing 40 minutes against Auckland and 40 minutes against Waikato at Owen Delany Park.

But Booth won’t be playing as he has this week pulled out of the season, because he hasn’t fully recovered from a broken leg.

Booth broke his leg playing for Manawatu¯ at the end of last year and missed the Super Rugby season this year, before returning for the last few rounds of club rugby with Varsity.

Turbos coach Peter Russell said Booth wasn’t ready to play in the national provincial championsh­ip and would be under the watch of his surgeon.

‘‘He didn’t really get through those [club games],’’ Russell said. ‘‘He was not back to his usual sprightly self.’’

In Booth’s absence Manawatu¯ are yet to name a captain, but No 8 Brayden Iose will lead the side against Auckland and centre Jason Emery, back after four years in Japan, will be captain against Waikato.

Booth also leaves a big hole at halfback, where this week’s two new signings, Griffin Culver of Feilding and Logan Henry of Feilding Old Boys-o¯ roua, will be jostling for the starting berth.

Culver debuted for Manawatu¯ in 2019 and provided backup last year when Booth was injured. Henry shifted up from Wellington this year.

Bryn Wilson, who took over last year when Booth was injured, hasn’t been required, but he or Ben Stephens could be brought in to cover injury.

‘‘There’s a vast gap to fill,’’ Russell said.

‘‘At the end of the day Jamie started somewhere and someone has to step up, and hopefully someone steps up.’’

Booth is still in the background helping out.

Today’s game will be the first outing in green for a few players, while members of the wider training squad will also play.

New men to the province will suit up in wings Tima Fainga’anuku and Taniela Filimone, centre Sebastian Visinia, prop Jarred Adams, lock Veikoso Poloniati and prop Ropate Rinakama.

Super Rugby players prop Harrison Allan and first fiveeighth Brett Cameron will play one of the games each.

New Zealand under-20s players TK Howden and Joseph Gavigan, Samoan internatio­nals Ray Fidow, Tietie Tuimauga and Ray Niuia, and Tongan internatio­nal Siua Maile are unavailabl­e this week, but are back next week.

Russell said it was their first game and would give them something to look at. ‘‘We spoke about mentality, to be urgent and excited. Show energy, not for bursts but for long periods.

‘‘Fitness levels are pretty good for this time of year coming back from clubs and all those sorts of things.

‘‘We want them to get out there, express themselves and show what they have got.’’

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Jamie Booth has withdrawn from the Manawatu¯ Turbos’ season because he hasn’t recovered fully from a broken leg.
GETTY IMAGES Jamie Booth has withdrawn from the Manawatu¯ Turbos’ season because he hasn’t recovered fully from a broken leg.
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