Metro keeping foot on the gas

METRO MEN: The St Johns Metro lads, the majority being former Whanganui High School students, are shaping up to break the Manawatu Colts division hoodoo.  

The squad is: (back left) Wereta Tutaki, Corbin Warren, Bradley O'Leary, Devon Gower, George Forster (captain), Brayden Maua, Lochie Steedman, Hamish Broadhead, Blade Jones, David Mariner and Laurence Weber. Front (from left) Tyrone Houltham, Gajun Botica, Josh Ashworth, Kalib Houltham, Riley Culver, Karihi Potaka-Osborne Whanarere, James Dorgan. Stefan Hannan (no longer playing) and Chris Ferguson.

St Johns Club Whanganui Metro is in a luxurious position one week out from the Manawatu McDonald's Colts division final in Palmerston North.

The sole Whanganui team in the competition has already qualified for the final and plays bottom of the table Kia Toa at te Kaierau Country Club on Saturday with kick-off at 1pm.

Kia Toa has yet to win a match in round two of the competition and while Metro co-coaches Darryl Malcolm and Carl Gibson are not taking the match lightly, they do have the luxury of playing reserves, resting key players and practicing what they preach.

"The aim all season has been to develop the players and we have already been successful at that," Malcolm said.

"Each game we have tried to carry out the things we've talked about and trained for on practice nights and that's what we need to do again this weekend. We have already qualified for the final, so it doesn't matter what the outcome is against Kia Toa on Saturday. But I want the guys to feel they have done their best and carried out the things we've talked about anyway."

Malcolm said the mindset within the squad was great coming off last weekend's bye and the players believed they could win the competition.

Metro does have a couple of key players out for the season.

Go-to hooker Sean Morahan is out with a disc problem in his back, starting centre Mike Wakeling is sidelined with rib cartilage damage and regular first five and team kicker Stefan Hannan has left to join the New Zealand Army.

Metro has the cover and depth in the squad to cope, although throughout round one and the start of round two the coaches have struggled to field sides with a full bench at times.

Mathematically the likely finals foe Massey White can miss out on a berth, but that would take a monumental effort from Old Boys Marist this Saturday. A substantial win by OBM could shunt third placed Feilding into the finals limelight. However, that is highly unlikely.

Massey White has won the competition three years on the trot now going through unbeaten throughout each annual rounds.

This season, however, they have been toppled twice. By Feilding and by Metro.

"Whoever we play in the final, and it's most likely to be Massey, it will be tough for us in an away fixture," Malcolm said.

"We do have our support when we play in Palmerston North and we hope to have even more next week, but it is difficult on their home turf. Win, lose or draw, as long as the boys give their best and do the things we've talked about they can be proud."

Malcolm rates his team highly and will be surprised if several of the squad don't progress to higher honours in the near future.

"I won't name them now, but yeah, there's a few in the team that have really bright futures if they stick at it," Malcolm said.

By Iain Hyndman
Wanganui Chronicle 13/7/17