Turbos rewarded for their top effort
Nehe Milner-Skudder was expected to be fit to play Auckland on Sunday despite training only lightly yesterday.
The Varsity fullback bruised a calf muscle in the Manawatu Turbos' 28-23 win over Northland on Sunday.
Coach Jason O'Halloran was confident enough about Milner-Skudder's recovery to name the Hurricanes wider training group player because today they had the day off before resuming training again tomorrow.
The Turbos have named an unchanged squad of 22 to play Auckland at Arena Manawatu.
That itself is an indication players will be given credit for winning matches, even if there were still crucial facets of play to work on, namely kicking and tackling.
"We have rewarded the guys for putting in a pretty good effort," O'Halloran said.
"We can improve in the backs and hopefully the forwards can perform to the same level."
Yesterday there was also a minor concern over halfback Papa Wharewera whose knee, which he injured in a pre-season 10s tournament, flared up at training.
He is due to play his blazer game, his 20th, against Auckland.
Hurricanes prop Chris Eves might have been expected to snatch a starting position, but Hubert Buydens' hearty form earns him a second start.
Eves will again be inserted off the bench.
"Ultimately the guys have been rewarded for their patience and composure they showed in the last 10 minutes [against Northland]," O'Halloran said.
"We have not been renowned for that in the past."
Most of the squad are back from injury, barring utility back Lewis Marshall (hamstring) who might yet be two games away, although he trained tentatively yesterday.
Kia Toa back Nathan Tudreu played 40 minutes for the Manawatu Development XV last Saturday against Horowhenua-Kapiti following his ankle injury and will be given 60 minutes against Hawke's Bay Development on Saturday.
The Turbos are not flush with outside-backs depth, especially with Marshall injured.
If they needed another fullback, options might be Newton Tudreu or Nathan Tudreu, maybe Jaxon Tagavaitau or Jade Te Rure or the likes of Jordan Bunce from the Development XV.
More interest will be on changes Auckland coach Paul Feeney makes after their 48-9 mauling by Canterbury.
Charles Piutau has been cleared by the All Blacks to play for Auckland while Lolagi Visinia injured a hamstring at Christchurch.
TURBOS TEAM NAMED
Manawatu Turbos to play Auckland: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Newton Tudreu, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Willie Paia'aua, 10 Jade Te Rure, 9 Papa Wharewera, 8 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 7 Callum Gibbins (captain), 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Keepa Mewett, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Hubert Buydens. Reserves: 16 Nick Grogan, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Fraser Stone, 19 James Oliver, 20 Kayne Hammington, 21 Otere Black, 22 Jaxon Tagavaitau.