Injuries to key forwards blow for Canterbury
Canterbury will be without enforcer Nasi Manu for their National Provincial Rugby Championship semifinal against Taranaki in Christchurch on Saturday.
Manu has been ruled out of the clash after suffering a serious knee injury in the red and blacks' 63-22 demolition of Bay of Plenty on Sunday - and the bad news doesn't stop there.
Also in doubt is flanker Matt Todd, who picked up a similar injury to Manu in the opening play against Bay of Plenty.
It's a double blow for Canterbury with both loose forwards instrumental in giving the team go-forward ball and tireless work on defence.
"It is a big loss, they are two really key players in our side," coach Tabai Matson said.
"But as has happened all year the guys off the bench have done a really good job and are really confident about what they do."
Luke Whitelock is the logical choice to replace Manu in the No 8 jersey, while young Jed Brown looks set to continue his remarkable rise into the side as a replacement for Todd should one be required.
Johnny McNicholl looks to have recovered from a wrist injury that saw him pulled from the field on Sunday and the leading tryscorer in the competition is expected to take his place in the starting lineup.
After three matches in a week to close out the pool play section of the competition it's all about rest and recovery this week for Canterbury.
They had a pool session on Monday and a light run yesterday.
"Thursday is our only real training this week and it will only be for about an hour and really light," Matson said.
"It's more about refuelling the tank and making sure we don't drain any of the legs before Saturday's game."
There's no need to search too far back in the memory banks to help prepare for Saturday's game. The sides met for a Ranfurly Shield clash in tough conditions a month ago in New Plymouth, with the visitors heading home with their tails between their legs after being bullied by their opposition.
"I am really pleased we get another go at them. The key thing is we didn't play well when we played them last, they just outplayed us on the day," Matson said.
"They taught us a lesson at the breakdown, so there is plenty of things we can work on and improve on from that game.
"I don't think they are vulnerable either, they are the last team you want to underestimate, so we are looking forward to another encounter with a really good foe."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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