Mitre 10 Cup Preview: Manawatu 2020

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Coach: Peter Russell

Home ground: Central Energy Trust Arena

2019: Fourth in Championship

 

Talking points

Manawatu showed their danger when stunning Premiership heavyweights Canterbury in Christchurch last year. While the win proved that Turbos are good enough to compete with the best, they will need to improve their consistency if they are going to challenge for the Championship crown in 2020. The defection of star first five-eighth Otere Black to Bay of Plenty is a blow to the Turbos but provides an opportunity for a local playmakers Stewart Cruden and Ben Wyness to shine. Impressive halfback Jamie Booth will skipper the side again and the availability of All Black halfback Aaron Smith along with the imminent return from injury of Ngani Laumape will provide a massive boost to the side.

 

Player to watch

Former Brumbies outside back Nigel Ah Wong will add proven experience and versatility to the Turbos backline. Able to cover any position from second five through to fullback, Ah Wong will give balance to a backline that features genuine firepower in livewire halfback Jamie Booth, 2015 Rugby World Cup winner Nehe Milner-Skudder and the blockbusting Ngani Laumape (when returned from injury). At 105kg and 1.93cm, Ah Wong is an imposing presence on the field and offers silky ball skills for a player of his size.

 

Manawatu squad

Sam Stewart, Ben Strang, Siua Maile, Gene Syminton, Michael Alaalatoa, Paulo Leleisiuao, Solomona Sakalia, Kyle Stewart, Tietie Tuimaga, Michael Fitzgerald, Tom Hughes, Sam Liebezeit, Liam Mitchell, Filo Paulo, Micaiah Torrance-Read, TK Howden, Johnny Galloway, Brayden Iose, Tyler Laubscher, Jamie Booth, Aaron Smith, Bryn Wilson, Stewart Cruden, Griffin Culver, Ben Wyness, James Tofa, Josiah Maraku, Nigel Ah Wong, Ngani Laumape, Adam Boult, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Newton Tudreu, Te Rangatira Waitokia, Ben Werthmuller, Drew Wild

 

Manawatu fixtures

 

Northland v Manawatu

Sunday 13 September

2.05pm, Semenoff Stadium

 

Manawatu v Otago

Sunday 20 September

2.05pm, Central Energy Trust Arena

 

Auckland v Manawatu

Sunday 27 September

2.05pm, Eden Park

 

Counties Manukau v Manawatu

Saturday 3 October

2.05pm, Navigation Homes Stadium

 

Manawatu v Canterbury

Friday 9 October

7.05pm, Central Energy Trust Arena

 

Manawatu v Bay of Plenty

Saturday 17 October

2.05pm, Central Energy Trust Arena

 

Hawke’s Bay v Manawatu

Saturday 24 October

4.35pm, McLean Park

 

Manawatu v Southland

Sunday 1 November

2.05pm, Manfeild, Feilding

 

Manawatu v Taranaki

Sunday 8 November

4.35pm, Manfeild, Feilding

 

Wellington v Manawatu

Saturday 14 November

7.05pm, Sky Stadium

 

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