Green Whalers ‘ready to go’

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The plan is simple.

Play the ball quicker.

Complete more sets of tackles.

And kick the ball with more accuracy.

Easy. Well, it would be with a bit more time.

But the Otago Whalers just have not had enough of it.

They showed that during their premiership debut last weekend.

They got beaten 42-22 by the Akarana Falcons at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The Whalers were competitive in patches, but they looked like a side which had recently assembled, which was true both literally and figuratively.

Coach David Reedy highlighted all of the above as areas needing addressing ahead of tomorrow’s match against Counties-Manukau in Auckland.

Some of the defence out wide was caught napping as well.

Reedy put that down to communication and a lack of game awareness which would develop.

But the Whalers have had a few setbacks this week.

Fullback Tama Apineru was down to play at centre until he copped a one-game suspension for a high tackle.

The captain Hagen Free has been sidelined with an injury.

Jordan McEntee and Mika Mafi will share the captaincy in Free’s absence.

Massive winger Tofatui-
amoana Solia played most of last weekend’s game with a fractured bone in his hand and has also been ruled out.

There are a lot of changes on the bench as well.

The Whalers have gone with extra forwards to match the physicality Counties-Manukau are expected to bring.

All of the disruptions have not made it any easier to build combination and to stitch together a more cohesive effort.

But essentially the focus had been on the basics, Reedy said.

"Our training sessions were pretty much focused on our play of the ball, our ground work and also our kicking game.

"Our Tuesday session was probably the best one of the campaign, so the boys are ready to go."

Counties-Manukau beat the Canterbury Bulls 44-0 and shape as the early favourite to win the premiership, so the match will be a big challenge for the Whalers, who are making their premiership debut this season.

NZRL Premiership

Auckland, tomorrow, noon

Otago: Opeti Tuimana, Kiardyn Hatch, Keenan Masina, Sefo Muasika, Saia Fifita, Tonga Nau, Jordan McEntee, Mika Mafi, Troy Anstiss, Benjamin Latu, Solomon Pole, Nale Fifita, Matt Vocea, Michael Strydom, Jahlisha Lofipo, Paea Fifita, Noaese Foaitua, Eli Ellison.

Counties-Manukau: Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mame, Akuila Tuha, Nicholas Toeava, Jody Henry, Liam Prendergast, Reece Joyce, Ioritana Leifi, Raven Togiafofoa, Isileli Matalave, Ngarima Pita, MacGraff Leuluai, Christian Tupou, Anthony Fuimaono, Manu Fatialofa, Robert-Alan Fatialofa, Filipo Utai, William Tuhikiterangi Pompey.