Big pack making presence felt
Rob Foreman's memories of September 2009 are all the motivation he needs for tomorrow's clash against Auckland
The Manawatu hooker was on the field the day when the Turbos came within a few seconds of injury-time away from victory.
That 23-20 loss will grate forever. With time almost up, a dozen players hit the rucks as the Turbos tried to run down the clock, they turned over the ball and Auckland scored.
Foreman is one of only four of the starting XV tomorrow who started that match, the others being Hamish Gosling, Michael FitzGerald and David Te Moana. Foreman has played 70 games on the trot and can barely remember when he missed even a club game through injury.
Manawatu had a scratch team that day, about seven players out injured including Aaron Cruden, who pulled out during the warm-ups. Perhaps Auckland underestimated the Turbos.
"The times of people taking us lightly are gone," Foreman said in reference to last season's sevens wins from 11 games. "We have to take into account we have a big pack and we have to dominate teams."
And it is too soon for fans to be disconsolate after just one outing. Auckland, picked from the country's biggest union, will of course be tough, as will Northland at Whangarei next Wednesday.
"Auckland will probably be very similar to Wellington, pretty good up front with ball-carrying athletes," Foreman said.
"But if you put any team under pressure, they'll do silly things."
Eden Park can be a forbidding monolith for outside teams, but Foreman doesn't see it that way. He said such giant grounds often have sparse spectator populations.
"Everyone is so far away. It's worse at our ground when it's full, or at Napier."
Foreman said the Turbos were upset about the way they went in their first game against Wellington, especially up front.
He's hoping the referee's scrum call will be consistent and they don't tap lineout ball in the attacking zone.
He figures there should be a more stable scrum and lineout against Auckland who, like Wellington, are stacked with fulltime Super Rugby payers. Canterbury, though, overwhelmed Auckland with their vigorous counter-rucking and hard-running backs in a 33-11 victory on Wednesday night.
Auckland coach Wayne Pivac delayed naming his team until this morning because of injuries picked up in the game against Canterbury on Tuesday.
Locks Liaki Moli and Andrew van der Heijden and loose forwards Peter Saili and Sean Polwart are carrying injuries and flanker Daniel Braid is already out.
Josh Townsend and Brad Mika are already gone for the season.
Pivac went to the New Zealand Rugby Union to seek permission to pick 18-year-olds Joe Edwards (loose forward) and Simon Hickey (first-five) who both represented New Zealand at schoolboy level last year.
Charlie Faumuina and Piri Weepu have rejoined the All Blacks squad.
HOW THEY LINE UP
MANAWATU TURBOS Backs — 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder (Varsity, 9 games), 14 Craig Clare (Feilding, 35), 13 Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Te Kawau, 19), 12 Frankie Bryant (Te Kawau, 79), 11 George Tilsley (Te Kawau, 0), 10 Junior Tomasi Cama (COB, 60), 9 Karl Bryson (COB, 17). Forwards: 8 Hamish Gosling (COB, 54), 7 Callum Gibbins (Varsity, 21), 6 Nick Crosswell (Feilding, 52) captain, 5 Michael FitzGerald (Te Kawau, 37), 4 Fraser Stone (Kia Toa, 25), 3 David Te Moana (Te Kawau, 48), 2 Rob Foreman (Varsity, 70), 1 Eric Fry (OB-University, 1). Subs: 16 Bryn Templeman (Kia Toa, 12), 17 Ma'afu Fia (Kia Toa, 34) or Jared Brock (Varsity, 11), 18 Reece Robinson (OB-Marist, 31), 19 James Oliver (Varsity, 22) or Antonio Kiri Kiri (OB-Marist, 0), 20 Papa Wharewera (Linton Army, 0) Jason Emery (Kia Toa, 1), 22 Lewis Marshall (FOB-Oroua, 11).
AUCKLAND (from) Charles Piutau, Ben Lam, Malakai Fekitoa, Hadleigh Parkes (captain), George Moala, Gareth Anscombe, Alby Mathewson, Steven Luatua, Tom McCartney, Pauliasi Manu, Nathan Vella, Angus Ta'avao, Nathan Hughes, Sean Brookman, Tony Fenner, Dave Thomas, Auvasa Faleali'i, Steve Fualau, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Joe Edwards, Simon Hickey, Albert Nikoro, Lolagi Visinia. Referee: Nick Briant (Bay of Plenty). TAB odds: Auckland $1.14, Manawatu $5 Last match: Auckland 32 Manawatu 6, 2010 in PN Matches played: 23, Mtu won 6, lost 14, drawn 3. Last Manawatu win: Manawatu 15 Auckland 8, 1981 in PN (NPC)