Vodacom Super 14

Lauaki set to start S14 final

2009-05-27 12:05
Sione Lauaki (File)
Rob Houwing

Cape Town – Chiefs hard man Sione Lauaki appears set to take his starting place at No 8 in the Vodacom Super 14 final against the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday. His expected presence is tipped to only raise the chill level the visitors will face as they run out onto the sold-out Pretoria stadium’s pitch.

According to the Waikato Times newspaper on Wednesday, the 117kg steamroller will have beaten off the injury he picked up in the tense semi-final against the Hurricanes in Hamilton.

Tongan-born Lauaki quit last week’s encounter in the 52nd minute after a head knock and subsequent neck pain.

But the New Zealand-based newspaper’s Duncan Johnstone reported that Lauaki was “laughing, joking and fully involved, running hard as the Chiefs got through a light-hearted but vigorous training session (in Pretoria) where they played soccer and touch football to blow out a few cobwebs from their hurried and long trip”.

He quoted Lauaki, asked whether he would make kick-off, as saying: “Yeah, I’m feeling good and looking forward to the week.”

Johnstone said Lauaki could expect “a roasting from the volatile full house who will follow his every move, baying for some kind of belated justice” after his coat-hanger tackle on local hero Bryan Habana at the same venue a few weeks back.

The big loose forward got a yellow card but no further censure as a citing report was not submitted within the stipulated 12-hour period.

“What happened, happened in the past,” Lauaki said. “I’ve learnt from it. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a new week, a finals week and I’m looking forward to it.”

Even some Bulls fans, however, will be secretly relishing Lauaki’s likely presence, as his personal duel with in-form Springbok Pierre Spies – also no shrinking violet in the physique department (108kg and 1.94m) - at No 8 is set to be a captivating one.

*The Chiefs intend naming their line-up for the final on their website (www.chiefs.co.nz) at 06:30 on Thursday, South African time.


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