New Zealand men's softball captain Rhys Casley is still
struggling with an injury four days before the world
championships begin, with the Black Sox today calling in
Two-time world champion Nathan Nukunuku has been called into
the squad as a late replacement for the World Softball
Championship, starting in Auckland on Friday.
Unlucky to miss original selection in December, Nukunuku has
been included as injury cover for Casley and will replace
rookie Jerome Haretuku on the 17-man roster.
Second baseman Casley has been battling for fitness since
shoulder surgery late last year and aggravated his injury
during last week's Dean Schick Tournament at the Rosedale
Park world tournament venue.
While he seems capable of fulfilling his duties with the bat,
his ability to operate at 100 per cent in the field is
questionable and Nukunuku has been recalled to cover that
"Rhys is an integral member of this Black Sox side, and is
our leader on and off the diamond," coach Eddie Kohlhase
said. "It's imperative we continue to work with him before
and during the world championship to maximise his
contribution on the diamond.
"He can still hit and we plan to use him as required during
the tournament but, to cover the possible loss of a
specialist infielder, we've added Nathan to the group."
Unfortunately for outfielder Haretuku, in his first world
championship campaign, he has drawn the short straw to make
way for Nukunuku.
"Rhys' injury has changed the dynamic of our team and we were
forced to make a difficult decision that would cost someone
their place through no fault of their own," Kohlhase said.
"Jerome has worked hard for his chance, and we certainly
cannot fault his dedication and contribution to the team. I
know he's disappointed, but I also know he's young enough to
help us win world titles for a while to come."
The Black Sox spent last week in a remote Northland location
and have now re-assembled in Auckland. They are scheduled to
play Czech Republic in a warm-up game at Simpson Park in
Penrose tomorrow afternoon, before they begin their
tournament proper on Friday night against Mexico.