Cama will try No 10 jersey for size
Jason O'Halloran's first left-field selection for the Turbos only two games into his reign has literally come from the left side of the field.
He has whisked Junior Tomasi Cama from the left wing to play first five-eighth against Auckland at Eden Park on Sunday, at the expense of youngster Nathan George.
Cama played every game last season on the left wing but had five games at first-five two years ago and almost sparked Manawatu to a win over Canterbury. At that time, Aaron Cruden was with the All Blacks and Isaac Thompson was injured.
While it is a brave selection, it indicates how key the No 10 is in the absence of Cruden and Thompson.
Cama just loves playing for Manawatu, which he has done since 2002, and would probably play prop if asked. The world sevens player of the year has played in all backline positions for Manawatu bar halfback and has filled in there for his College Old Boys club.
"Junior has been involved for seven or eight seasons and knows the structure," O'Halloran said.
His presence will have the Auckland defence in two minds because he is so unpredictable.
It is tough on the new man, George, who must work on his game.
"He has been really proactive," O'Halloran said. "He struggled with the occasion [against Wellington] and on how to prepare himself."
The change forces the goal-kicking to revert to Craig Clare who was kicking goals for Feilding later in the season. Jason Emery, on the bench, can also step up to that job.
Cama's exit from the wing gives NZ sevens flier George Tilsley his debut gallop. He did pin his ears back in the pre-season clash with Wellington at the Hutt Rec.
Highlanders prop Ma'afu Fia won't start because he went over on his knee at contact training this week. That will give the 136kg David Te Moana a chance to anchor the scrum against the Auckland giants, something he did expertly when he came on against Wellington
James Oliver's groin strain continues to annoy him so he has been bracketed in the reserves. Prop Grant Polson's knee is still coming right.
The coaches had robust discussions when selecting their XV for Auckland but with only one unforced change, have virtually told that Turbos XV to go out and make amends for the first-up hiccups.
The Manawatu Rugby Union has signed promising Palmerston North Boys' High School halfback Jamie Booth to a two-year contract.
He will be with the Manawatu academy from now on and could be released to spend time overseas in the off-season if he wished. Because of his age he will not be permitted to play for the Turbos this year.
The crowd numbers for the Manawatu-Wellington match last Friday have been revised upwards to 4500, said Manawatu chief executive John Knowles. The first estimate of about 3500 provided by the stadium on the night proved to be inaccurate.
Manawatu team to play Auckland:Backs - 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Craig Clare, 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 12 Frankie Bryant, 10 Junior Tomasi Cama, 9 Karl Bryson. Forwards: 8 Hamish Gosling, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Nick Crosswell captain, 5 Michael FitzGerald, 4 Fraser Stone 3 David Te Moana, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Eric Fry.
Subs: 16 Bryn Templeman, 17 Ma'afu Fia or Jared Brock, 18 Reece Robinson, 19 James Oliver or Antonio Kiri Kiri, 20 Papa Wharewera, 21 Jason Emery, 22 Lewis Marshall.
- Manawatu Standard
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