Passionate Crossy fired up for Turbos clash with Southland
Jackson Hemopo, Ngani Laumape and Nehe Milner-Skudder have been confirmed in the Turbos’ starting line up for their match against Southland in Palmerston North on Sunday.
The All Blacks trio will start at blindside flanker, second five-eighth and right wing respectively.
All three have played matches for the Turbos this season, but not in the same game.
Despite the match being the final game of the season for the Turbos, there remains plenty of motivation within in the team.
Much of that is led by senior lock, Nick Crosswell.
The 32-year-old loose forward/ lock now sits within one season of being the 11th member of the exclusive 100-match club for Manawatu and just the second during the Turbos era.
This weekend will be his 93rd for Manawatu.
Crosswell was initially named to take the field against Hawke’s Bay last week, but he withdrew to be there for the birth of his son Tiaki James Crosswell – born the day of the game.
The new addition to the family is sure to keep him, wife Hanna and daughter Maia.
“We are bloody excited,” he said.
But a busier personal life does not mean the experienced performer, who has played Super Rugby for the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Chiefs, has any plans to hang up the boots.
“I would like to get a bit more rugby under my belt. I am only 32 so I feel like I have a few years left. I will just take stock after this season and see where I am at. But I would love to go again. I still feel the same about this team as I did in 2006 – it is a privilege.”
He admitted the carrot of 100 games for the Manawatu played on his mind.
“At the end of the day, the drive has still got to be there. I would never come back just to get 100 games. I would come back to contribute to a team in a campaign where we want to win – those would be drivers for me in coming back.”
Crosswell has played all but two seasons for the Turbos since his debut in 2006. That came during his stint in Wales in 2015 and 2016.
He returned to Manawatu last year, claiming back his No 6 jersey, only for a neck injury to rule him out for the season after week four.
That injury took until the back end of the club season for him to be cleared to get back out on the field.
He said hampered his preparations for this year.
“I would have liked more rugby earlier in the year so maybe I came into the season a little under cooked and for a big part of it I have been playing catch up.”
But regardless, he has been a vital part of the forward pack this year.
He said it was special getting the call up to captain the team once again against Tasman when Antonio Kiri Kiri was being rested.
“It is an absolute privilege. Twon (Antonio Kiri Kiri) has done a fabulous job, but he needed a rest. To still get that opportunity to captain your home province is really special to me. It was not the result we wanted, but that aside it is something that I can be proud of.”
Despite results not going their way for much of the season, Crosswell said the mood in camp has been positive and there was a determination to finish the season on a high note against Southland.
TURBOS: 15 Sam Malcolm, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Junior Laloifi, 10 Otere Black, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Sam Slade, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri ©, 6 Jackson Hermopo, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Liam Mitchell, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Sam Stewart, 1 Fraser Armstrong. Reserves: 16 Gene Syminton, 17 Sean Paranihi, 18 Sione Asi, 19 Liam Hallam-Eames, 20 Brice Henderson, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jade Te Rure, 23 Hamish Northcott