Sport: Coach Darryl Suasua believes his Steelers can go all the way
The Counties Manukau Steelers have the team to win the Mitre 10 Cup.
That's the measure of coach Darryl Suasua's belief in the squad that he and assistant coaches Grant Henson and Semi Sititi have assembled for this year's campaign.
At its core is a group of tried and tested Super 15 players who took the Steelers to the semi finals last year where they were beaten 22-7 by eventual champions Canterbury.
It was Suasua's first year in the job and with that experience behind him, it's only natural that he wants to go all the way this year.
He relishes the challenge and says it demands that the coaches, the experienced professionals and the team's rookies all sing from the same song sheet for the 11 games that it will take to win the premiership.
"I think probably the most important thing to win a competition or championship is having everybody on the same page.
"That's the management and the players. You know we have players from different clubs, guys from Super Rugby, a couple of guys from overseas. Once we bring them all it it's a matter of us working off the same page at the right time so that we can perform cohesively.
"I think we have the team to do it. If we have everyone on deck it's a pretty strong roster. It's a roster I'm pleased with."
Physicality was one of the hallmark of last year's Steelers team. Suasua says it will be the same this year.
"Last year one of the biggest things that came out of our season was our physicality. Our club rugby competition here in Counties Manukau is pretty brutal.
"I did do a little bit of time looking at other provinces last year wondering if there were any players that had been missed out.
"But at the end of the day I came back here because I believed all the players were here playing a real physical brand of rugby."
Nepo Laulau, the Wesley College old boy and Crusaders prop, who sat out last year's campaign with injury, was one expected to added to physicality of the Steelers and stability to their scrum.
But his All Blacks call up means he'll have to wait another season before securing his first Steelers' cap.
Suasua wasn't surprised by Laulau's call up. He says he was half expecting it. But he is confident that Pauliasi Manu, Kalolo Tuiloma and Sean Bagshaw will hold their own.
The Steelers open their Mitre 10 Cup campaign against Auckland at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe on Saturday at 7.35pm.
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