Manawatu's Gibbins should get game time

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 14/02/2013

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Manawatu flanker Callum Gibbins is likely to get a run against Dave Rennie's Chiefs at Mangatainoka on Saturday.

Gibbins is a member of the Hurricanes' wider training group along with Hawke's Bay's Ash Dixon, Mike Coman and Richard Buckman and Taranaki's former Wellington midfield back Ope Peleseuma.

While Gibbins yesterday wasn't named in the 29 for their final pre-season game, coach Mark Hammett confirmed that he will strip.

Gibbins is the sole Manawatu player at the Hurricanes, up from none last year.

Linton Army and Manawatu halfback Papa Wharewera has been attached to the squad for the early season lead-up and Hammett said he will return to soldiering with the army next week as the Hurricanes prepare to play the Blues at Wellington in their first competition game next weekend.

Gibbins has had a hamstring twinge but did play for 70 minutes in the first warmup game against the Crusaders at Timaru on February 2.

Because the Hurricanes could only take limited numbers to Geelong, Victoria, last weekend, Gibbins did not travel.

"Callum has been outstanding," said Hammett. "He is a talented man and it has been great having him in the environment."

Hammett said he was looking forward to having him for the entire Super Rugby programme instead of just the pre-season as in the past for wider training group players.

In the Chiefs is Gibbins' cousin Rhys Marshall, the rookie hooker who has yet to even play provincial rugby. The Hawke's Bay under-20 hooker, who was training at Smedley Farm in Tikokino, was in last year's NZ under-20s and has been signed by his home province, Taranaki.

All Black and captain Conrad Smith will make his first appearance for the Hurricanes this year, probably for 40 minutes, and No 8 Brad Shields comes back from the knee injury which ruled him out of the ITM Cup programme last year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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