Stags' prop problems don't faze stand-in captain
Southland will have to overcome a propping mini-crisis if they are to overcome Manawatu in Palmerston North tonight.
The loss of skipper Jamie Mackintosh to a one-week suspension for stamping has been compounded by the loss of back-up loose head Tuki Raimona to an eye injury.
Raimona was poked in the eye at training on Wednesday and a specialist advised yesterday that he was unfit to play, with JP Koen promoted from the reserves to the starting 15 tonight and Blues prop Micheal Peterson brought into the squad.
Veteran lock Josh Bekhuis, who will be playing his 88th game for the Stags tonight, was handed the captaincy in Mackintosh's absence.
"[I'm] definitely honoured," the big second rower said.
"It's a bit of a shame to have Whoppa out for the week but it's just good to be given the role and I'll take it as a challenge and hopefully I'll step up."
Bekhuis' previous captaincy experience includes the Southland Boys' High School first XV and his Star club.
He took over the captaincy late in games for Southland when Mackintosh was subbed.
"I've got Whoppa there to help me out, along with the coaches but I've played enough games now and been in a leadership role with other teams, and I've got quite a big leadership role with this team as well. Hopefully it's not too much of a difference," he said.
Things have been much happier in Stagland this week following last Friday's 20-16 win over Waikato, the team's first of the season.
However, that result will count for little if it isn't backed up by a win over Manawatu, another team who tasted success for the first time last round when they beat North Harbour.
"They are a good team, a dangerous team," Bekhuis said of the Turbos.
"They've got a group of players who like to run with the ball in hand. They are quite aggressive on defence as well, so that's going to be a challenge for us. It's always a tight game against them."
The Stags will remain in the North Island for Wednesday's game against Bay of Plenty and Bekhuis said he was looking forward to touring, something that's become as old-fashioned for provincial teams as rucking has become for the New Zealand Rugby Union.
"I'm actually pretty excited. There's a good culture among the boys, it will be good to get away and hang out.
"It's only a week long, which is probably just long enough. We all enjoy each other's company and I have the team coming around to my house most nights as well."
- © Fairfax NZ News