Counties Manukau PIC Steelers will be looking to cherish possession more when they travel north to take on North Harbour this evening in the Mitre-10 Cup.
Head coach Darryl Suasua said while the team scored a pass mark in their narrow 34-29 loss to Taranaki at home in the opening round, they will be working to tidy up their handling.
“We were ahead of just about every key stat but we had 26 turnovers which was double the number that Taranaki made. That was the big difference,” said Suasua.
“We want to attack and play positive rugby but we also need to respect the hard-won possession. It is a delicate balance and we have a number of new players still learning to meld together.”
The coaching team were pleased with the set-play possession from both scrum and lineout.
“We had a stable platform to attack from which was pleasing. We did lose a player into the bin and that took some sting out of us. Discipline is so important.”
There are some changes to the team, most noticeably with Sonny Bill Williams named in the All Blacks side to meet Australia on Saturday.
“It has been outstanding to have Sonny around for two or three weeks. He was so positive with the young boys and I think enjoyed his time with us. He has definitely given the young guys plenty of good information they can use.”
They have lost exciting winger Etene Nanai-Setero for the season with a knee injury but welcome back experienced prop Sean Bagshaw on to the bench, and while not playing this week, lock Viliame Rarasea has returned after playing for Kobe who won the Japan Top League final last weekend.
The game kicks off at 5.45pm.
The Steelers line-up is: 15. Andrew Kellaway, 14. Kirisi Kuridrani, 13. Nathaniel Apa, 12. Cardiff Vaega, 11. Kalione Hala, 10. Riley Hohepa, 9. Jonathan Taumateine; 8. Malgene Ilaua, 7 Sam Henwood ©, 6. Samuel Slade, 5. Daymon Leasuasu, 4. Mickey Woolliams, 3. Tim Metcher, 2. Joseph Royal, 1. Conan O’Donnell.
Reserves: 16. Donald Maka, 17. Sean Bagshaw, 18. Suetena Asomua, 19. Johnathan Kawau, 20. Dan Hyatt, 21. Liam Daniela, 22. Nikolai Foliaki, 23. Liam Fitzsimons.