Canterbury send out SOS to Tasman Makos
Tasman flanker Jordan Taufua is expected to be forced to jump ship today and leave the Makos to join the Canterbury rugby side ahead of its semifinal clash with Taranaki on Saturday.
The Press understands that the Canterbury Rugby Football Union has exercised its right to recall Taufua, who was on loan from Canterbury, back into the side due to its fast-depleting loose forward stocks. An announcement from the union is expected later today.
Taufua was named initially in the Canterbury wider training squad at the start of the season but depth in the loose forwards meant it was better for him to head to Tasman as a loan player.
When heading north, an injury callback clause was added to the agreement meaning Canterbury could ask for Taufua to return to them.
Canterbury have lost seven players to season-ending injuries this season, not including Colin Slade, but were hit particularly hard on the weekend when both Matt Todd and Nasi Manu suffered serious injuries in the victory over Bay of Plenty.
Manu is out for this weekend's match with Taranaki and the chances of Todd being fit are slim.
Canterbury coach Tabai Matson has already dug deep into the barrel of players available from the Canterbury B and colts sides but injuries there meant there was no other choice than to call back Taufua - short of asking assistant coach Scott Robertson to chuck the boots on or toy with the idea of placing a call to former All Black Reuben Thorne.
A 20-year-old former Baby Black, Taufua has been in devastating form for Tasman this year and has been one of the best loose forwards in the competition.
His loss would have major ramifications for Tasman, who head to Dunedin to tackle Otago in the semifinals of the championship section of the national championship on Friday night.
Canterbury trained lightly at Rugby Park yesterday following a hectic week of rugby in which they played three matches.
As they continue on their path toward a fifth consecutive final, they won't have to search too far back into the memory banks for motivation in taking on Taranaki at AMI Stadium on Saturday.
Canterbury were soundly beaten by the then Ranfurly Shield holders in New Plymouth last month - a match played in atrocious conditions. Outmuscled and bullied by the Taranaki forwards Canterbury failed to adapt to the game and came home empty-handed.
It's a quiet week for the squad with the focus more on rest and recovery than preparation until tomorrow when they will partake in their only full training run.
Good news on the injury front for Matson is that wing Johnny McNicholl is expected to take his place in the starting lineup after a wrist injury forced him from the field against Bay of Plenty.