Auckland keen to keep teenage star Edwards

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 09/09/2012
Joe Edwards
Getty Images
BRIGHT FUTURE: Joe Edwards was named man of the match as Auckland beat Waikato.

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Auckland will seek dispensation from the NZRU to keep teenage loose forward Joe Edwards playing, after he starred in yesterday's win over Waikato at Eden Park.

The 18-year-old scored a try and was named man of the match in the crucial bonus-point win that keeps Auckland on the Premiership pace and Waikato stalled down the table.

But after also playing against Manawatu last weekend, Edwards has now reached his game limit under restrictions for players his age.

Auckland have a back row problem with Peter Saili playing despite a fractured thumb that will require surgery at the end of this week.

Auckland coach Wayne Pivac believes Edwards is his answer and will try to twist arms at Wellington HQ to keep the big No 8 in his mix.

“We have to sit down with the NZRU and see if we can get some more game time for Joe because he has had his two games and as you saw there, I think he is up to it,” Pivac said,.

“In the two performances he's had, he's been one of the outstanding performers.

"At 18 years of age, I think he has a huge future.”

Edwards is up for it.

“Totally ... I just want to stay around as much as I can. It's such an awesome environment to learn in. Peter Saili has taken me under his wing now and teaching me all the moves and the lines that I need to learn,” said the youngster, who this time last year was winning the Auckland schools title with St Kents and going on to vice-captain the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.

“It's different, it's a big step up from club rugby but I've just got the confidence in the boys around me to help me out and to keep me on the right track. I'm learning and I'm starting to find myself at home."

Edwards' second-half try, quickly followed by a stunning strike from wing George Moala, gave Auckland a buffer which they maintained despite Waikato pressing over the final quarter with a strong wind behind them.

Gareth Anscombe chose the right tactics from No 10, fullback Charles Piutau was a constant menace with his running game androokies Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Sean Brookman stood tall.

Pivac praised the work at the breakdown. He was thrilled to take the full five points and happy to deny Waikato any rewards.

It's already getting away on Waikato, who face a tough week, playing Bay of Plenty in Hamilton on Tuesday and then Wellington in the capital on Saturday.

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“There's no time to dwell ... we'll bank that and move on,” said disappointed Waikato coach Chris Gibbes.

Auckland (Charles Piutau, Malakai Fekitoa, Joe Edwards, George Moala tries; Gareth Anscombe 3 con, 2 pen)

Waikato (Alex Bradley 2, Zak Hohneck tries; Trent Renata 2 con, pen). Ht: 18-12

- Sunday Star Times

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