Loose forward options plentiful for Steelers

Loose forward options plentiful for Steelers

PIC Steelers coach Reon Graham has a selection dilemma ahead of the NPC season as he looks at the various loose forward options at his disposal.

The region is blessed with a stack of contenders at present with players that were in the set-up last season playing well and a host of new, local talent putting their hands up as well.

All Blacks Dalton Papali'i and Hoskins Sotutu are clearly the cream of the crop - both enjoying strong seasons with the Blues in Super Rugby - and will be the first players chosen whenever they are available for provincial rugby.

Alamanda Motuga (Moana Pasifika) is healthy again and was a proven star at provincial level prior to his shoulder injury that prevented him from playing in 2022. He would seem to be a certain selection this year.

Graham used the likes of Sean Reidy (Patumahoe), Sam Tuifua (Karaka), Adam Brash (Bombay), Setefano Leavasa (Patumahoe) and Thor Manase (Manurewa) last year and all five would have to be front-runners again this season.

There have been a number of club players putting their hands up during the first round of the McNamara Cup, including some players that have worn the red, white and black hoops before.

Dylan Leckner and Ryan Stewart (both Patumahoe) have been in the PIC Steelers squads previously while Pukekohe skipper Leo Ngatai-Tafau has enjoyed an outstanding start to the season and is training with the wider PIC Steelers squad.

Faamoni Suetena (Karaka) was a club standout last season as he helped Manurewa to the McNamara Cup and has made a fast start after moving to Karaka this season while Pukekohe's Sese Tohi and Bombay's David O'Connell have impressed as well.

Academy stars Austin Carew (Papakura) and Taeao Pomale-Time (Karaka) have turned heads this year as well and look to be certainties to play rep football sooner rather than later.

Throw in locks that cover loose forward positions like Alex McRobbie and Jadin Kingi and there are a lot more options than spaces available.

"We have a lot of depth at loose forward, which is really encouraging,"

Graham told Counties Sports Hub. "I've been really impressed with the performances of a number of local players through the club season so far.

"It is great to see our local competition providing the platform for players to showcase themselves. It certainly won't be an easy job choosing who to include this season."

The second round of the McNamara Cup will serve as a trial in many ways and Graham, along with PIC Steelers fans, will be paying close attention to the loose forward match-ups.