Steamers prepare for Waikato challenge

Steamers players in action against Otago last weekend. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford/SunLive.

The Bay of Plenty Steamers had a strong start to their Mitre 10 cup campaign last weekend, however coach Clayton McMillan says his side isn’t going to get carried away with their emphatic win over Otago.

The side have put aside the euphoria of their 50-7 victory, and have been preparing to take on a strong Waikato side that beat Canterbury 31-28 last weekend.

“The team recognised pretty quickly after the game, that it was a good way to start the season. But they were quick to ground themselves and know that we’ve just got to prepare better this week to get a similar result,” says Clayton

“The thing too is that last year, we started well, and everything was looking rosy. So, we’ve ridden the highs and the lows. We’re not going to get carried away by our first performance. There is a long way to go. It’s as simple as that.”

McMillan has made four changes to the squad that faced Otago last weekend. Three players; Alex Ainley, Joe Ravouvou and Leroy Carter will make their Steamers debut.

Ross Geldenhuys has been named as tight-head prop, with Jeff Thwaites moving to the bench while Tevita Mafileo is rested this weekend.

Hoani Matenga moves from the bench to number 8, replacing Abraham Papali’i, who has a mild shoulder injury.

Alex Ainley, who played more than 90 games at lock for Tasman, makes his Steamers debut while Baden Wardlaw moves to the bench.

Joe Ravouvou also makes his Steamers debut on the right wing replacing Emoni Narawa who moves to the bench, while Pryor Collier is rested.

Leroy Carter, who was part of the 2019 Bay of Plenty Under 19's team who won the Graham Mourie Cup at the Jock Hobbs National Under 19's tournament, will also make his Steamers debut this Sunday coming off the bench.

Along with securing valuable Mitre 10 Cup points, the Steamers will also look to wrestle away the Chiefs Country Cup from Waikato. The cup represents the Chiefs provincial unions playing in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Waikato claimed the cup after beating the Steamers 54-21, in last year’s competition.

McMillan expects a torrid encounter against Waikato.

“They looked pretty impressive against Canterbury. They have a pretty talented team and they are working hard.

“I’ve obviously had a bit to do with Roger Randle, I know that he comes with an attacking mind-set and he has the players to bring his plans to fruition. So, they’re dangerous.”

Bay of Plenty Steamers:
1. Aidan Ross (24)
2. Nathan Harris (30)
3. Ross Geldenhuys (10)
4. Aaron Carroll (10)
5. Alex Ainley* (0)
6. Hugh Blake (25)
7. Mitch Karpik (17)
8. Hoani Matenga (10)
9. Richard Judd (17)
10. Dan Hollinshead (28)
11. Fa'asiu Fuatai (11)
12. Mathew Skipwith-Garland (9)
13. Joe Webber (12)
14. Joe Ravouvou* (0)
15. Chase Tiatia (36)

16. Kurt Eklund (1)
17. Tom McHugh (1)
18. Jeff Thwaites (32)
19. Baden Wardlaw (9)
20. Ajay Mua (6)
21. Leroy Carter* (0)
22. Jason Robertson (6)
23. Emoni Narawa (2)

*Steamers debut
** Denotes blazer game – 15 games
() Denotes number of games

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