Familiar faces in Evergreens squad
Two former Turbos are among the Manawatu Evergreens squad trying to prove their worth to new coach Peter Russell when they take on Wellington in Levin at 1pm on Monday.
Russell has named a 30-man squad for what will be his squad’s first hit out of 2019 including hooker Nick Grogan and lock Fraser Stone, both of whom have not played for Manawatu since 2015.
The duo, who have 24 and 64 games for the Turbos respectively, will each get 40 minutes to prove they can still foot it in first class rugby.
The duo bring plenty of experience to squad packed with largely young and untested local players.
A host of injuries made for a tough selection puzzle for Russell, who will also have to sweat through Saturday’s round of club rugby hoping for no further injuries.
Sam Wasley, Hamish Northcott, Ueta Tufuga, Griffin Culver, Harry Jones, Jono Ihaka, Shai Wiperi, Andre Taylor and Junior Laloifi were among those not considered due to injuries.
Monday’s squad will operate as two teams with one taking the field for the first 40 minutes and then the full side replaced for the second half.
Russell was excited to see the team on the park for the first time this season.
“I am hoping to see a lot of energy because we have been together since February and doing our precision work for seven weeks,” he said.
“I want to see good combinations in the forwards and the back.”
There were still a number of contracted places up for grabs.
“It is a good opportunity for some young players to put their hands up,” he said.
From last season’s Turbos squad, Faalelei Sione, Gene Syminton, Sam Stewart, Tom Hughes, Nick Crosswell, James Tofa, Ben Werthmuller and Te Rangatira Waitokia will feature.
Former Free State Cheetahs loose forward Nardus Eramus will get a run at lock.
Halfbacks Michael Walsh and Regan Sword will have prime opportunities to prove themselves.
Also featuring in the match will be academy players Atonio Walker-Leawere, Kirihi Nohotima-Hunia, Mickey Woolliams, Stewart Cruden, Josiah Maraku, Adam Boult, Awatere Kiwara and Drew Wild.
Manawatu Evergreens squad: Faalelei Sione (Freyberg), Sean Rankin (Feilding), Sam Tufuga (Varsity)/ Gene Syminton (College Old Boys), Kirihi Nohotima-Hunia (Kia Toa), Atonio Walker-Leawere (Varsity), Nick Grogan (Varsity), Sam Stewart (Te Kawau), Mickey Woolliams (Varsity), Tom Hughes (Varsity), Fraser Stone (Kia Toa), Nardus Eramus (FOB-Oroua), Nick Crosswell (Feilding), Johnny Galloway (COB), Rhys Pedersen (OB-Marist), Kirk Tufuga (Varsity), Matene Ruawai (OBM), Regan Sword (Varsity), Michael Walsh (COB), Stewart Cruden (COB), Ben Wyness (Feilding), Josiah Maraku (Feilding), James Tofa (COB), Kameli Kuruyabaki (Te Kawau), Shadyn Osgood (OBM), Awatere Kiwara (COB), Adam Boult (Te Kawau), Tobias Wickham-Manueln (Kia Toa), Ben Werthmuller (OBM), Drew Wild (Feilding), Te Rangatira Waitokia (Varsity).