Paia'aua answers the call

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 04/08/2014

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Last year's Manawatu Turbos wing Willie Paia'aua will join the squad at their training camp at Nelson tomorrow.

He has been brought in on a week-by-week basis to replace Linton Army's Hamiora Thomas who broke an ankle in the first minute of play during the 29-28 win over Wellington on Friday.

The Turbos crossed Cook Strait yesterday, but Paia'aua had work commitments today and was to be flown to Nelson. He played three games for Manawatu in 2012 but only two last season when a shoulder dislocation ruled him out.

Paia'aua played for the Manawatu development XV at Masterton on Saturday and is likely to play against Tasman in the final pre-season match at Trafalgar Park on Thursday.

Thomas won't require an operation. However, his ankle will be put in a cast which will rule him out for the season. The injury happened when his leg was trapped under a tackler, a freak accident.

Thomas had been one of the exciting selections for the Turbos and coach Jason O'Halloran said he "had been doing some pretty special things at training".

It leaves the Turbos thin on threequarters because Lewis Marshall has re-injured his hamstring and Nathan Tudreu is away for two weeks because of his ankle injury.

Other options out wide are Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jaxon Tagavaitau, Jason Emery who played part of the Wellington game on the wing, and even perhaps one of the three halfbacks, Jamie Booth, at a pinch.

Meanwhile, O'Halloran had watched the videotape of Friday's match at the Hutt Recreation Ground and was happier than he had been initially after the match.

"I was pretty pleased looking back at it," he said.

There were missed tackles, but he liked the way Manawatu ran back Wellington's kicks, with the midfielders getting back to support Milner-Skudder when he brought the ball forward.

The most exciting was seeing wing Newton Tudreu at full speed, especially off the mark and flying outside Wellington's New Zealand sevens' wings. Tudreu can run the standing 40 metres in 4.83 seconds, similar to Christian Cullen at his peak.

"His acceleration and goose-step are unreal," O'Halloran said.

Feilding High School have a potential Manawatu threequarter in Luther Hirini who could get the fast track to representative rugby if he chooses Manawatu ahead of Canterbury. His father Paul played for Manawatu as a centre-wing out of the High School School Old Boys' club in 1993.

Contrary to a Wellington report, prop Chris Eves is not on loan from Wellington, as he was last season. He is on a two-year contract with Manawatu.

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- Manawatu Standard

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