Club players join Southland Stags squad

TIM BOYS: Is one of several Southland Stags loose forwards under an injury cloud.
TIM BOYS: Is one of several Southland Stags loose forwards under an injury cloud.

Southland Stags coach David Henderson has turned to club rugby loose forwards Scott McKee and Dion Bates as the team's injury toll mounts.

Henderson yesterday confirmed that Eastern-Northern Barbarians No 8 McKee, and Pirates-Old Boys flanker Dion Bates have joined the squad ahead of Thursday night's home game against Otago at Rugby Park.

McKee played for the Barbarians this year, after previously captaining Dunedin in the Otago premier competition. Bates, gained 51 caps for the Stags between 2006 and 2010, but did not feature for the team last season.

Southland has a loose forward crisis on its hands for the Otago game with Super Rugby players Elliot Dixon (chest) and John Hardie (foot) both out, and openside flanker Tim Boys rated as doubtful with a shoulder injury.

Hardie injured his foot in Southland's pre-season game against Otago in Balclutha last month, and will visit with a specialist later this week.

He missed the majority of the Super Rugby season with turf toe, and could be set for another extended spell on the sidelines if he has reaggravated the injury.

Southland's loose forward problems went from bad to worse in their 40-8 loss to Wellington on Sunday with stand-in blindside flanker Brayden Mitchell joining the casualty list.

Mitchell left the field with a knee injury and Henderson confirmed he will be out for the next couple of weeks. Openside flanker Alex Taylor also damaged his hamstring late in the game and is in doubt for the Otago clash. First-five Scott Eade and lock Alex Ryan (both hamstring) are also questionable for Thursday night.

Henderson had never encountered so many injuries at one time during his playing or coaching career, and said the Stags had to soldier on, and do the best with the players they had.

"You expect a couple of injuries, but you don't expect this many at once," he said.

Southland have struggled in their first two games of the national provincial championship and will be desperate to claim their first win of the campaign against Otago.

Henderson said his team were disappointed with how they had started both of their games this season and admitted that needed to change on Thursday.

"We want to get right.

"We want to be a bit more patient and build pressure."

The Southland Times