Tuilagi faces tough weekend of finals
Pale Tuilagi has one heck of a weekend ahead of him.
The Tiwai worker will line up in a Galbraith Shield semifinal on Saturday at the Les George Oval and the next day take to Rugby Park to contest the Southland District Rugby League grand final.
On Saturday he will pull on the blue-and-white hooped jersey of Star as they take on Woodlands in one club rugby semifinal before he starts at standoff for He Tauaa as they chase a rugby league victory in the decider against Cooks.
It is the former North Otago rugby representative's first season playing league and while he had enjoyed the experience he admitted Mondays and Tuesdays were tough as he recovered from two big games each weekend.
This weekend will be no exception, with the repeat of the 2011 Galbraith Shield final expected to be a ripper on Saturday followed by an intense showdown in the league final on Sunday.
"They're going to be a couple of tough games. I'm definitely hoping I can get on top in both of them," he said yesterday.
He had originally toyed with the prospect of lining up for the Cowboys in the Southland league competition, but after the sudden death of He Tauaa stalwart Tavita Faa'moe-Ioane, who Tuilagi knew, he decided to step in and help out the club in his honour.
Both Tuilagi's Star and He Tauaa team's strengths on Saturday and Sunday will probably centre on their backlines with Tuilagi one of those pivotal figures.
It was the He Tauaa backline pm Sunday that spurred them on to a dramatic 34-32 last-minute victory after they trailed for the majority of the semifinal against Mataura at Elles Rd.
It was also the Star backline that spurred them on in the must-win game against Marist on Saturday to ensure they qualified for the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Southland president Nic Brady is hoping for a big spectator turnout on Sunday for the grand final.
The day will start at 11.30am when the Southland and Otago under-15 teams square off at Elles Rd. The focus will then switch to Rugby Park for the first of the club finals at 1.15pm, with Winton and Cooks meeting in the under-17 decider. The senior club final between Cooks and He Tauaa will start at 3pm.
Entry to Rugby Park is $3 for adults and $10 for a family pass of two adults and three children. For kids under five entry is free.
The Southland premier grade club rugby semifinals will be played at the Les George Oval on Saturday.
Blues and the Eastern-Northern Barbarians will meet in the first semifinal at 1.15pm before Star and Woodlands play at 2.45pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News