The Bayleys Counties Manukau Bs take on Taranaki in the curtain-raiser of Saturday night’s Bunnings Warehouse NPC clash between the PIC Steelers and Manawatu at Navigation Homes Stadium.
The side has endured some up and down moments through their 2022 campaign as coach Jeremy Clark juggles the need to provide local players a pathway into the PIC Steelers and a platform to improve their game while also trying get as many wins as possible.
It is a balancing act all Unions face – some opt to simply chase wins while others commit to using the Bs as a means to strengthen their NPC stock and develop players.
Already this season players like Penisoni Fineanganofo, Amanaki Savieti and Nua Soti have made a jump up, having started with the Bs before earning the call-up to help the PIC Steelers, while halfback Jonathan Taumateine made his return from injury via the Bs as well.
With the PIC Steelers facing a mid-week game in Taranaki during the week before a return to Navigation Homes Stadium next weekend against Canterbury, more players could see a chance to come out of the Bs.
Players like winger Nicholas Nasila, prop Lionel Evans and loose forward Thor Manase continue to press their claims after some impressive games for the Bs and could be an option for PIC Steelers coach Reon Graham before the season is completed.
Clark is focused on getting a win against Taranaki this weekend however.
“It can be a juggling act trying to balance the need to develop players and provide them an opportunity to make the step up to the Steelers while also trying our best to win games,” Clark said.
“We have some talented players within our group, and I expect them to be challenging for wins.
“We are certainly going out there on Saturday night to put together a good performance in front of our supporters and do the region proud.
“There have been a lot of success stories from this campaign but I would really like a win.”
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