Gibbins & Co. Glad to Be Back
on Friday, 17 July 2015. Posted in Turbos News
The Manawatu Turbos squad came together for the first time in 2015 on this afternoon, as they look ahead to their first season in the Premiership of the ITM Cup.
Aside from some gym work, the players and management focused on bringing the team together and thinking about the season ahead. Coach Jason O'Halloran, in his final season in charge, wants to make sure the team all buy into the same game plan. “Today's all about players and foundations and having the new players, particularly, meet the management staff...just to give them a bit of an indicator of what we're about and what values we stand for and how we want to approach the season ahead.”
There are no particular goals the Turbos want to achieve this year, aside from the obvious one of winning games. As O'Halloran, points out it is more about doing what they need to on and off the park to give themselves the best chance at succeeding. “We're all about a performance mentality here, so we just have some key things we need to achieve within the game. We feel if we do that then the results take care of themselves. We're not about making grand goals about where we want to be. What we will do is go out there and play honest, hard and innovative rugby.”
For a number of players it was enjoyable to get back into the green and white stripes, after a long and tough Super Rugby season. Captain Callum Gibbins was particularly enthused to be back in the Manawatu. “It was awesome walking into the gym this morning and seeing everyone there...such a nice feeling walking into somewhere where you're so comfortable.”
After the disappointment of losing the Super Rugby final with the Hurricanes, Gibbins and the team are ready for a big season, and with some Super Rugby experience behind a handful of players including Gibbins, it bodes well for last year's Championship winners. “Yeah [losing the Super Rugby final] was disappointing. It was an amazing experience though. I got a bit more game time than I thought I was going to get. I got a bit of confidence at that level...really enjoyed it.”
The Turbos will be somewhat disadvantaged by their impressive season last year though, as those players who were picked up by Super Rugby sides have not only had long, taxing seasons. Some of them, such as the electric Nehe Milner-Skudder, forced the All Blacks' selectors to pick them in their initial 41-man squad for the Rugby Championship.
O'Halloran says there will be no word on whether Milner-Skudder will be available until August 30th, when the Rugby World Cup squad is announced. The two Aarons (Smith and Cruden) are both unavailable as well. “We won't be seeing either of the Aarons. There's no chance for him [Cruden] to play this year to be perfectly honest.”
Injuries have also had an impact before the season has even begun, particularly at prop. Ma'afu Fia is likely out for the entire season, and Chris Eves might not be sighted until mid-season. Their losses have been offset somewhat by the recent signing of Michael Alaalatoa.
'The Boneyard' looks in good shape too, and both O'Halloran and Gibbins are hoping the fans will turn out again this year to support the team.
“We've got a great fan base. We had a great turnout for the final and that's probably one of the keys to winning. We get to host teams like Taranaki and Canterbury, so I'd imagine those will bring in some decent crowds,” O'Halloran says.
As for Gibbins, he just wants the season to get underway, and for the fans to help them make some more history. “I can't wait. We love the bucket heads and the support we get from the community. We really love our fans and we hope that they come along to the games.”
The Turbos have two pre-season games against Tasman and Bay of Plenty in the next few weeks, before their first game of the season away to Counties Manukau on August 16th.
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