Captain Kawau out to make amends
Jason Kawau will captain the Stags in the absence of Jamie Mackintosh against Counties Manukau tomorrow night, but don't be getting any feelings of deja vu.
Kawau well remembers the 2006 game against Counties when he took over the skipper's armband from another prop, Clarke Dermody, and Southland slumped to a 29-8 loss.
"That was a pretty dreadful day. I think what was the problem that day was we just expected to go out there and win that one. We might have been a bit complacent," Kawau said.
"I don't think we've got that mindset this time around because we know in this competition any team can win any game. We'll go up there with real intensity and try to play to the same level we did against the Bay (of Plenty)."
Mackintosh has been rested to allow his injured hand a further chance to heal, David Hall has been retained at No8 and the hard-working John Hardie has earned a spell on the bench, with Hua Tamariki named on the blindside flank.
Stags co-coach David Henderson said Tamariki deserved another opportunity.
"I'm very happy with how Hua goes and he's been out for a couple of weeks. He's more suited to the game plan we've got in place for Counties."
While Henderson wouldn't expand on what that game plan might be, Tamariki's selection suggests Southland will play close to the ruck and try to dominate in the set pieces.
Pehi Te Whare has recovered from the back strain that ruled him out of last week's game to get a start on the left wing, with Tony Koonwaiyou dropped to the bench.
After a standout performance in his Southland debut, Glenn Horton will start at fullback.
There will be a couple of familiar faces in the Counties team tomorrow night.
Hooker Matt Holloway is on loan to the Milton Haig-coached Steelers from Southland, while lock Rees Logan spent two seasons with the Stags ending in 2006.
Both will start against their former team-mates tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, Kawau said he will wait until the end of the season before deciding what his future holds.
The 28-year-old is off contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby Southland at the end of this season.
"At this stage I'm pretty unsure; overseas is an option at some stage, whether it's next year or the year after. I want to play really well for the Stags this year and get us to the final and try and win it."wTo have your say on the Stags' season go to the sports section at southlandtimes.co.nz and check out The Roar. Younger readers can head to the Spikers Club section.
Counties Manukau: Tim Nanai-Williams, Lelia Masaga, Siale Piutau, Dean Cummins, Sherwin Stowers, Tasesa Lavea (captain), Notise Tauafao, Viliami Fihaki, DJ Forbes, Ryota Asano, Rees Logan, Alepini Olosoni, Simon Lemalu, Matt Holloway, Graham Dewes. Reserves: Ilaisa Maasi, Po'aloi Taula, Jamie Chipman, Waka Setitaia, August Pulu/Samisoni Fisilau, Seremaia Tagicakibau, David Raikuna.
Southland: Glenn Horton, Matt Saunders, Kendrick Lynn, Jason Kawau (captain), Pehi Te Whare, Robbie Robinson, Scott Cowan, David Hall, Tim Boys, Hua Tamariki, Joe Tuineau, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Jason Rutledge, Fai Mika. Reserves: Micheal Peterson, Dave Gannon, John Hardie, Noa Soqeta, Sonny Rangitoheriri, Tony Koonwaiyou, James Wilson.