Chance for flankers after Doug Tietjens' exit

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 09/05/2012

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There's a vacancy in the Manawatu Turbos for an openside flanker following the horrible knee injury sustained by Doug Tietjens.

Tietjens ruptured knee ligaments playing for the Highlanders against the Sharks at Durban on Sunday.

He was to see a specialist in Dunedin and will probably need an operation and nine to 12 months of recovery.

That would spell the end of the season for Tietjens, who will get to spend plenty of time with his new baby daughter.

Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran said he will want to keep Tietjens involved in scouting because he respects him as a knowledgeable player.

"There is now a realistic opportunity for other guys," O'Halloran said.

Varsity's Callum Gibbins will now be the senior No7 while in the Turbos' wider squad are former New Zealand Schools flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri, who was playing on the openside back then, Feilding No8 Mua Sala and Te Kawau flanker Daniel FitzGerald.

No-one else other than Tietjens and Gibbins have worn the No7 jersey since captain Josh Bradnock in 2009.

The incident in which Tietjens injured his knee looked innocuous. It was in a tackle but as he redistributed his weight on his leg, he wrenched it sideways and more seriously, might have also ripped lateral collateral ligaments.

Meanwhile, Manawatu's Nick Crosswell played 80 minutes of club rugby for Alhambra-Union in Dunedin on Saturday, and hopes to play against the Hurricanes at Dunedin on Saturday night.

"That was a bit of a fitness test," Crosswell said. "The knee came through as good as gold and I will definitely be available to play.

"It has been a long six weeks but injuries are part and parcel of the game."

Crosswell played for Alhambra last year because players like former College Old Boys forward Ryan Bowater was there. Crosswell's return is timely because all three players injured against the Sharks will require surgery. The others were flanker Elliot Dixon (torn pectoral muscle) and midfield back Shaun Treeby (broken jaw and eye socket).

Crosswell is likely to partner Josh Bekhuis in the second row against the Hurricanes.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders are reporting that signing Manawatu halfback Aaron Smith is a top priority for next season, with Jimmy Cowan heading to Gloucester.

"He is a big part of the team and will be again next year," said general manager Roger Clark. "He loves it down here and has really enjoyed his time here."

Smith is likely to be part of the first All Black squad, despite his form having levelled out since earlier in the campaign.

Meanwhile, Te Kawau first five-eighth Logan Taylor is returning home to Christchurch for about three weeks to recover from the blow to his head and neck last Saturday. He might also have sustained some concussion.

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- Manawatu Standard

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