Toala back in starting role for Magpies
Hawke's Bay Magpies midfield back Danny Toala admits he didn't do himself any favours during the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
"I tried to do too much with the workload with my own training during Lockdown when I was meant to rest and picked up a hamstring injury," Toala recalled.
That injury restricted Toala's appearances to one off the pine in the Canes final outing of the season against the Highlanders last month. The 21-year-old former Baby Black wants to enhance his chances of more Hurricanes minutes next year with some polished displays for the Magpies in this season's Mitre 10 Cup.
After coming off the bench in last weekend's 31-17 second round victory against Counties-Manukau Toala will make his first starting XV appearance of the season against Canterbury at Napier's McLean Park tomorrow night.
"I'm pretty stoked to have come back from those injuries," Toala said referring to back, shoulder and rib injuries collected in the Maddison Trophy final.
Those injuries prevented him from playing in the Magpies first round 16-10 loss to Southland. He pointed out he needs to shake off a niggly ankle injury collected during the first five minutes of his time on the field last weekend.
"Hopefully it will be right by game time so I can try and play my part ... help the boys perform and do what we do best."
"Last year I was pretty comfortable because we didn't have too much depth. This year there are lots of us backs battling for all the jerseys. I have got to perform if I'm going to keep the 12 jersey and earn more minutes at Super level" Toala explained.
He is expecting Canterbury to field a fit and physical team.
"They have always been a good team. We will have to try and battle them up front. We will have to try and bully them ... stay in the fight and not die off."
He is expecting to mark Hamilton Boys' High School product Rameka Poihipi or his former Baby Blacks teammate Dallas McLeod.
"I played against Rameka during our school days. We all know each other's strengths and weaknesses," Toala added.
Toala's replacing of All Black Sevens squad member Ollie Sapsford is one of two changes to the Magpies starting XV used in last weekend's victory against the Steelers. Unavailable All Black Brad Weber has been replaced by Highlander Folau Fakatava at halfback.
Changes on the subs bench see former Otago representative Connor McLeod replace Fakatava, Sapsford replace Toala, former All Black loosie Gareth Evans replace Solomone Funaki and Hastings Rugby and Sports captain Jason Devery replace former New Zealand under-20 captain and hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes.
Should McLeod, a son of former Magpies first five-eighth Ross McLeod, get game time it will be his Magpies debut.
The full Magpies team for the 7.05pm clash is:
Kurt Baker, Lolagi Visinia, Stacey Ili, Danny Toala, Jonah Lowe, Lincoln McClutchie, Folau Fakatava, Devan Flanders, Brendon O'Connor, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Tom Parsons, Geoff Cridge, Joe Apikotoa, Ash Dixon (captain), Pouri Rakete-Stones.
Substitutes: Jacob Devery, Jason Long, Joel Hintz, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Gareth Evans. Backs, Connor McLeod, Caleb Makene, Ollie Sapsford.