Thursday, August 15, 2019
Steamers midfield back, Matt Skipwith-Garland says he shares a special bond with his fellow Whakarewarewa teammates when they put on the Bay jersey.
Skipwith-Garland is joined by fellow Whaka players Baden Wardlaw and Tom McHugh in this year’s Steamers squad and he says the trio share a brotherhood within a brotherhood.
The 27-year-old, had a standout game in the Steamers opening Mitre 10 Cup match against Otago in Tauranga at the weekend, racking up an impressive 50-7 thrashing of the Southerners.
Skipwith-Garland says the team is happy with the result.
“All our hard work and preparation during the off-season, and to see things that we’ve been practicing unfold on Sunday, it was quite satisfying. I’m really happy.”
The platform was set by the outstanding work of the forwards Skipwith-Garland says.
“We can’t really do anything without a strong base. Having that front row there, that’s pretty much a Super Rugby front row, and then the loose forwards and locks carrying the ball, it was just out of this world.”
Despite the impressive showing in their first game, Skipwith-Garland says the side still has plenty to work on before they take on Waikato at the Rotorua International Stadium this Sunday.
“We don’t want to jump the gun and get too ahead of ourselves. We’ve found out there is a lot to work on from that game. So, we will keep working hard and hopefully we can put on the ultimate show for our supporters and whanau.”
Skipwith-Garland says he is hoping to see a good crowd turnout for this weekend’s match.
“I know the Whaka supporters will get behind the team, and it would be great to see the rest of Rotorua get in behind us as well. Having a vocal backing definitely lifts the boys.”
McHugh, who made his Steamers debut off the bench says the bond of brotherhood within the Steamers and Whaka is an experience he didn’t expect.
“It’s a bit surreal. I played for Auckland and played all my club rugby up there. So, I’ve come from a real European/Pakeha club. I haven’t experienced in all my life, such a tight-knit family kind of feel like I have here in the Bay. That has really captured me.”
The 24-year-old says, there is a real feel of confidence and brotherhood within the team, and there is a want to work hard for one another and for their Bay supporters.
“We’ve spoken massively preseason of how important the community means to us, we’ve got a few players from Rotorua and so is the coach. It’s vital for us, to get out there and play for our entire union.”
Wardlaw, a towering 198cm lock says, the side wanted to show they are a side prepared to put their bodies on the line for one another, and the 50-7 scoreline didn’t really reflect the intensity of the match.
“In the first minute, I split my eyelid open. That was one of my first collisions. That was how hard it was. I just threw my body in there and I come off second best. But I didn’t strap it until 20 minutes later. It was a real physical game.”
Wardlaw ended up with six stitches as a result of the collision, but he says he will be ready to play if selected for Sunday’s game.
The 29-year-old, credits senior players in the forward pack for the side’s dominant display against Otago’s forwards.
“Being behind guys like Aidan Ross and having an All Black in there like Nathan Harris, it makes our job easier. I just do what they want me to do.”
It wasn’t just the Steamers who did well at the weekend, more than $9,000 was raised at the game for the Bluelight – Police Charity.
Steamers coach Clayton McMillan will name his playing squad on Friday.
Sunday 18 August
Rotorua International Stadium
Gates Open at 1.30pm
Curtain Raiser: Bay of Plenty Ngawha vs. Waikato Men's B kick-off 2.00pm
Bay of Plenty Steamers vs. Waikato kick-off 4.35pm
To purchase your online tickets click here.
Tickets also available for purchase from Energy Events Center, Rotorua.
Gate sales will be available on the day from 1.00pm Gates 2 and 3 at Rotorua International Stadium.