Vipers ready to strike back from loss
The Mid Central Vipers are hoping for a vast improvement in the second round of the national competition after their opening round wake-up call.
The Vipers, who play the Counties- Manukau Stingrays in Auckland on Monday night, would need to improve their performance after being thumped 42-14 by the Wellington Orcas last weekend.
Vipers coach Mike Graham had put the side through a "pretty robust" training session on Wednesday and was confident his players could lift even though it had only been a week since their poor performance.
"There's no doubt. In the second half of last week's game, they showed some improvement from the first half," he said.
"A lot of it is attitude."
Graham had wanted the side to improve their technical skills. There were still a few things to work on.
"They [Counties-Manukau] are quite big, they always are.
"We've got to go in with a specific game plan to negate that. We're not going to match them for size, so we'll work around how we're going to combat that. We had some good results in the first year, we nearly beat them up there."
Graham would not be making huge changes to the side ahead of Monday's game.
However, they have been joined by Crete Cribb from Hawke's Bay, who should play in the halves. Regan Verney, from Taranaki, may feature in the centres.
"It wouldn't be fair to throw the toys out of the cot and give them the heave-ho," Graham said. "[We've] got to give them an opportunity to show that we fit in the league."
The game has an added incentive for players to perform, with the Mt Smart Stadium match televised live on Sky Sport 2.
Counties-Manukau beat Auckland's Arakana Falcons 24-22 in the first round.
The Vipers under-17s and under-15s play Counties-Manukau sides on Monday at Papakura Park.
Mid Central Vipers (from): Jared Verney, Sione Sifa, Leon Walker, Regan Verney, Crete Cribb, Peta Simmonds, Andre Rore, Cruz Raynor, Corey Govener, Moeaki Samiti, Valu Laumape, Mike Wilson, Wiremu Matakatea, Sam Aupouri, Richie Graham, Daniel Rakatau, Kele Kose, Alby King, Denzel Lepua.