Impressive Lam to start at No7 against Magpies

START ME UP: New Waikato Number 7 Jack Lam at training.
IAIN McGREGOR/Waikato Times
START ME UP: New Waikato Number 7 Jack Lam at training.

Jack Lam is only 21 but he has made such an impression in the loose forwards for Waikato this season he has been rushed back into the side as an openside flanker to take on Hawke's Bay at Waikato Stadium tomorrow night.

Lam missed last Saturday's away win over Counties-Manukau after carrying a flu virus into the Bay of Plenty match, where he played at No8, and suffering from the physical pounding as a result. "Every knock I took I felt pretty much tenfold to normal and the coaches gave me a week off to get back to a hundy (100 per cent)," Lam said after being named in the starting lineup yesterday.

He was one of Waikato's standout players in the loss to Bay of Plenty, and it is his physical presence in the contest for the ball, tackling and with ball in hand that convinced the coaches to bring him back ahead of Matt Blain in the foraging role.

Lam said he remembered little of the match at Mt Maunganui because of the illness he was suffering from at the time but he was looking forward to taking on the highly effective Magpies trio of Karl Lowe, Michael Johnson and Thomas Waldrom.

Waikato head coach Chris Gibbes said the selection of Lam in the No7 jersey was a question of team dynamics for this match. "We're looking at our dynamic and probably more importantly Hawke's Bay's dynamic around their loose forwards and we felt that Jack can give us a little bit more presence around the breakdown. Matt (Blain) has been doing a great job and he's going to come off the bench for us and have a significant role in this game, but for the start that's what we're looking for."

In other changes Ben May returns to a starting spot at loosehead prop in place of Hikairo Forbes, Trent Renata takes over at first five-eighth for the injured Sam Christie (shoulder) and young Fijian Henry Speight gets a start on the right wing with Sosene Anesi switching back to fullback in place of Renata.

Waikato: Sosene Anesi, Henry Speight, Save Tokula, Callum Bruce, Dwayne Sweeney, Trent Renata, Brendon Leonard, Alex Bradley, Jack Lam, Liam Messam (c), Kevin O'Neill, Romana Graham, Nathan White, Aled de Malmanche, Ben May. Res: Vern Kamo, Hikairo Forbes, Kent Fife, Matt Blain, David Bason, Alesana Muliaina, Tim Mikkelson.

Hawke's Bay: Israel Dagg, Mark Jackman, Jason Shoemark (c), Sam Giddens, Zac Guildford, Andrew Horrell, Chris Eaton, Thomas Waldrom, Karl Lowe, Michael Johnson, Ross Kennedy, Matt Egan, Sona Taumalolo, Hika Elliot, Josh Keys. Res: Ash Dixon, Clint Newland, Hugh Reed, George Naoupu, Kilifi Fangupu, Aayden Clarke, Jason Kupa.

Waikato Times