Manawatu will be a different beast when the two sides clash in the first semi-final game of the Mitre 10 Cup, says Steamers assistant coach Mike Delany.
The two sides last met in Round 9 of the competition, with the Steamers putting on an impressive 46-10 win over Manawatu.
That result is history and the side wasn’t taking anything for granted, especially Manawatu, says Delany.
“We know Manawatu is a good side. They have had a few injuries and they will be a different beast come finals time. Mitre 10 Cup is a real tough competition, a couple of weeks is a long time for a team and so it’s about looking at their threats and seeing how we can counter that.”
Mike says the team haven’t let the thought of a semi-final impact on the preparation for the game being played at the Rotorua International Stadium tonight at 7.35pm.
“We’ve had a good rest after the Southland game. The boys have embraced the start of another week. Everyone is in good spirits and just excited about getting out there on Friday night.”
This has meant keeping the same routine as they have the entire season.
“We’ve tried to keep things pretty consistent throughout the year. There is a buzz in the final week but we just make sure we have the same processes in place. The culture in the team is really good and the boys are just wanting to get on with it.
“They understand it’s a big week but at the same time not over-thinking it. We’ve just made sure we control our game and work on things that we needed to work on.”
Mike says there is something unique about this year’s team.
“The culture within our side is about trying to improve every week. So, we’ve put leaders amongst the group to ensure the side doesn’t get complacent. Manawatu is a real threat and we have to be clinical if we want to get the right result.”
Having free entry to the game has excited the players, says Mike.
“I was pretty pumped with the idea of free entry, I’m from Rotorua and it’s awesome to see. In my playing days, I loved the international stadium. It’s a great ground to play on and I don’t think too many teams enjoy coming there.
“So, if the supporters can really embrace that and get in behind it that would be great. The players have talked all week about how excited they are about it being free and the potential of all the support they will have at the game.”
Steamers loose-forward Tom Franklin will play his blazer game (15) when he takes to the field.
The gates open at 6.30pm and parking is also free.
Bay of Plenty Steamers
• Aidan Ross (C) (34)
• Nathan Vella (7)
• Ross Geldenhuys (17)
• Baden Wardlaw (18)
• Alex Ainley (6)
• Tom Franklin * (14)
• Mitch Karpik (25)
• Hoani Matenga (17)
• Richard Judd (26)
• Dan Hollinshead (34)
• Joe Ravouvou (7)
• Chase Tiatia (45)
• Mathew Skipwith-Garland (17)
• Fa’asiu Fuatai (16)
• Emoni Narawa (11)
• Kurt Eklund (10)
• Chris Eves (2)
• Jeff Thwaites (40)
• Aaron Carroll (19)
• Hugh Blake (34)
• Leroy Carter (9)
• Jason Robertson (13)
• Pryor Collier (5)
* Denotes debut
** Denotes blazer game – 15 games
() Denotes games played
Team subject to change
Mitre 10 Cup:
Bay of Plenty Steamers v Manawatu
Friday, October 18
Rotorua International Stadium
Gates open: 6.30pm