Todd Ruled Out For Remainder Of Rockcote Canterbury Bulls’ Campaign
Via The Press – by Tony Smith
The Canterbury Bulls have been dealt a big blow with skipper Alex Todd ruled out for the rest of the National Provincial Premiership rugby league season.
Coach Andrew Auimatagi said Todd – who led the Bulls in last week’s loss to the Counties Manukau Stingrays – broke a bone in his hand.
“He’s going to be a big loss. He’s pretty gutted about it.”
Todd was captaining Canterbury for the first time with regular skipper James Baxendale on an overseas holiday.
Paul Sauni, co-captain of Canterbury’s club champions, Linwood, will lead the Bulls in Sunday’s must-win game against Waikato in Hamilton on Sunday.
Second rower Jesse Rogers has failed to recover from a hamstring problem that forced him off the field against Counties.
Auimatagi hopes the Hornby Panther will be back next week.
Having lost Todd from the front row, Auimatagi hopes to have his other starting prop, Jiordan Fidow-Kele, cleared after a head knock last week.
“He was removed frm the field as a precaution and has been medically assessed over the last two days.
“We’re just waiting to see if he’s cleared to play.”
Auimatagi understood the 21-year-old had been given the all-clear by a sports doctor, but he also needs a New Zealand Rugby League clearance.
New Zealand Residents fullback Erwin Sauni will miss the Waikato game due to work commitments and utility Dene Grace, who started at hooker last week, will not travel with his partner due to have a baby.
The Bulls will welcome back loose forward Jules Webley, who missed the Counties Manukau game due to a virus.
“He wasn’t good so we left him out, but he managed to get through a training session on Tuesday,” Auimatagi said.
Half Sean Scott and hooker Tyrone Arona are set to added to the Bulls squad with the Hornby Panthers teammates likely to be on the interchange bench.
Despite the changes, Auimatagi is confident the Bulls can get a win over Waikato and go into the final round robin game against the Akarana Falcons with a chance of making the Albert Baskerville Trophy final.
Canterbury’s disappointing error rate cost them a chance of a win against Counties, losing 28-22 after fighting back from 16-0 down.
But Auimatagi thinks his charges – many of them new to top-level representative football – will be better for that hitout.
“The boys handled the pressure pretty well considering the inexperience,” he said.
“If we gave away less possession, I’m pretty sure we can get the result.”
Waikato, however, won’t be easy adversaries.
Morgan Kutia’s team – promoted from last year’s championship grade – almost upset Akarana last week, leading the Aucklanders 22-6 late in the first half before fading to lose 36-28.
“You can never under-estimate them,” Auimatagi said.
“They are going to be tough againn this week. They’re a really physical team with some key players, Aaron Jolley [Waikato’s captain and fullback] and their hooker [Malcome Noda].
“We’re going to have to be on our A-game and be better at controlling the ball.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Canterbury Bulls v Waikato
WHEN: Sunday at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium, 2pm.
Canterbury Bulls team: Tauvale Tauvale, Ben Ilalio, Vinnie Paul, Blake Thompson, Josh Aileone, Izic Placid, Tama Walker, Jiordan Fidow-Kele, Chase Kereama-Williams, Reuben Te Amo, Paul Sauni (c), Joseph Mika, Jules Webley. Interchange: Sean Scott, Damien Papuni, Willie Davis, Tyrone Arona.
Unavailable: Alex Todd (broken hand), Jesse Rogers (hamstring strain), James Baxendale (overseas), Erwin Sauni (work), Dene Grace (family commitments).