Eade shrugs off injury to keep Stags in hunt

HURTING: Stags player Stags player Scott Eade on the run against Hawke’s Bay.
HURTING: Stags player Stags player Scott Eade on the run against Hawke’s Bay.

Stags pivot Scott Eade will play through the pain until the end of this season.

Eade has a mystery thigh injury which might not be fully diagnosed until the Stags' campaign ends.

It troubles him during training and in the second half of games but with Robbie Robinson's season-ending injury, there's little option but for Eade to grit his teeth and keep running.

It certainly hasn't affected his goal kicking, with the No 10 currently at close to 90 per cent.

Outscored two tries to one by Northland on Wednesday night, it was Eade's kicking that got the Stags home.

"It's one of those things," Eade said. "You aren't as worried about the process as you normally are, which might be helping a bit.

"I'm striking the ball pretty well and they are going over, which is the main thing. If I can keep relaxed and keep doing the same thing, then hopefully they'll keep going over."

Eade is in his first full season at first five after deputising behind James Wilson last year.

The injury has meant he has done little kicking practice between games and fullback Marty McKenzie was charged with restarts and line kicks against Northland to take some of the pressure off.

With Jimmy Cowan's quality kicking game now winging its way north to the English premiership, even more responsibility will fall on Eade and McKenzie when they take on Canterbury in Christchurch tomorrow.

Eade is keen to make up for his defensive lapse just after halftime against Northland, when Ash Moeke ran through to score next to the posts.

The Stags had talked at halftime about having stretched the Cambridge Blues in the first half and were desperate to start the second well. Moeke's try was followed soon after by a second try to Tone Kopelani, and the Stags spent the rest of the game clinging on.

"We've talked about the fact we can't make the amount of mistakes we made in the second half [against Northland]," Eade said.

"Hopefully, it's going to be a nicer day up there on Sunday so we can play a bit more positively and not kick as much ball away.

"It's just really about everyone taking ownership and not committing those errors."

Southland have largely avoided the temptation to rest players for what will be their third game in nine days.

Brayden Mitchell starts at hooker with Jason Rutledge dropping out of the squad entirely, while Michael Fatialofa comes into the second row with Alex Ryan moving to the bench and Scott McKee regaining his place on the blindside flank.

Halfback Nemia Kenatale earns his second start, following Cowan's exit, with Tayler Adams on the bench, but Eade has spent time at halfback as well this week and could be an option to fill in there.

It is a utility role that Eade says he enjoys and it's one that could help him ease his way into Super Rugby in the future, although he has yet to attract interest from any of the franchises for next season.

Canterbury have chosen to spell some of their best players on the bench but still have a starting lineup featuring some quality names, particularly in the backs where Ryan Crotty and Robbie Fruean form a potent midfield combination.

Tom Taylor moves from fullback to first five while George Whitelock, one of three brothers in the team, will captain the side.

What: Canterbury v Southland, tomorrow, 2.35pm.

Canterbury: Johnny McNicholl, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Telusa Veainu, Tom Taylor, Willie Heinz, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock (captain), Joel Everson, Luke Katene, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Pae'a Fa'anunu. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Andrew Olorenshaw, Dominic Bird, Nasi Manu, Andrew Ellis, Tyler Bleyendaal, Stephen Gee.

Southland: Marty McKenzie, Junior Ngaluafe, Nathan Hohaia, Cardiff Vaega, Tim Cornforth, Scott Eade, Nemia Kenatale, Elliot Dixon, Tim Boys, Scott McKee, Michael Fatialofa, Josh Bekhuis, Nic Barrett, Brayden Mitchell, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Talemaitoga Tuapati, Tukiterangi Raimona, Alex Ryan, Dion Bates, Tayler Adams, Matt Saunders, Mark Wells. Referee: Jonathon White.

TAB odds: Canterbury $1.12, Southland $5.50.