By Anendra Singh, Hawke's Bay Today
Photo by Duncan Brown
.Blues player-coach Bill Robertson has been doing the rounds in the elite premier and summer leagues but hasn't yet come across Team Taranaki.
"In my time as assistant coach and coach, I have never played against them," says Robertson, who will resume his post as centre back tomorrow for Conroy Removals Napier City Rovers now his campaign is over for Stirling Sports Premiership (national summer league) side Team Wellington.
"I've tried to do a little bit of homework on them [Taranaki] and get as much as information as we can but, again, we just want to focus on ourselves because if we play well on the day, then we can beat anybody in the league," he says before the 1pm kick off at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
Taranaki, who are coming off a 3-0 defeat at Wellington United, are seventh on the Central League ladder with 10 points, five points more than eighth-placed Rovers.
But coach Ian McGrath is a wily campaigner whose squad includes some pedigree players with pace, not to mention a rash of imports.
Robertson was mindful of McGrath's ability to recruit players, including former English import Saul Halpin who has switched allegiances from the Blues for Miramar Rangers this winter.
"Saul's been successful for us and he has gone on to the national league and achieved top honours there with scoring goals so they brought him out years ago and we're expecting a tough game from them [Taranaki] certainly."
Taranaki, who are comeback kids after bowing out in 2010, have three wins and Rovers one.
Robertson says Rovers' preparation was good considering they have footed it quite well in the league but haven't come away with the results.
"You know, we've had some really good games and then some sloppy periods which have cost us, so it was good to have a decent performance last week and get a win under our belt for confidence [4-2 at Marist Palmerston North].
"The lads have trained well this week, so they are prepared to claim three points on the road."
English midfielder Fahad Rwakarambwe has been dropped to the reserves for game time, while centre back Danny Wilson will not travel to away fixtures for the rest of the season due to family commitments.
TEAM TARANAKI: 1 Santiago Fernandez (GK), 3 Jeremy Hill, 4 Paul Cunningham, 5 Joel Willets, 6 Jack Roberts, 7 Jeremy Hawkes, 8 Russel Laird, 9 Ben Moore, 10 Wade Randle, 11 Tyler Stephens, 12 Rodrigo Mangini, 13 Nathan Hill, 14 Sandro Grandi, 15 Phillip Shehan, 16 Dom Squatriti, 17 Sam De St Croix, 18 Vance Hoskin, 19 Brad Hickling, 20 Joshua Smith, 21 Damien Mosquera, 22 Sam Adeyinka, 23 Mustafa Can, 24 Nicolas Varela, Nick Hayward (RGK).
Coach: Ian McGrath.
NAPIER CITY ROVERS: Ruben Parker Hanks (GK), 2 Blake Koolen, 5 Matt Bruin, 6 Oliver Coren, 7 Jean-Michel Paulin, 8 Chris McIvor, 9 Angus Kilkolly, 11 Jorge Akers, 12 Ethan Ladd, 14 Josh Stevenson (vc), 15 James Hoyle, 17 Fergus Neil (c), 18 Ross Willox, 19 Bill Robertson, 20 Charlie Yexley, Kyle Baxter (RGK).
Coach: Bill Robertson.