Easter training turnout buoys Blacks

Rugby union

THE attendance at training last week tells the story of Griffith's turnaround under Seru Rogo.

Last year, the Blacks would have been lucky to get half a dozen on the paddock in a bye week.

But despite no game to look forward to due to Easter, there was still a full compliment of players at training last week.

"I was worried at first but it just goes to show the attitude and commitment of the boys," Rogo said.

"It's really good to see.

"You can feel the boys don't really like having a week off but we picked them up at training and it's still full steam ahead."

Griffith hosts Leeton tomorrow at the Coro Club, with the match marking the full debut of star recruit Dan Rawaqa, who showed glimpses of his undoubted quality off the bench against Ag College.

The Fijian international will replace winger Peceli Suasua, who injured his knee in the 42-29 away win.

"Everyone's really looking forward to seeing him play a full game this weekend," Rogo said.

"Even if Peceli wasn't injured someone would have had to have gone down to reserve grade for Dan.

"He'll jump in and it'll be good to see how he goes together at the back with Marika (Vunibaka) and Johnny Brown."

Griffith will make one other change, with Michael Stalley to make his first appearance of the season for Tino Kaue, who is unavailable for tomorrow.

Stalley started training with the Blacks last week and is a proven performer in SIRU, further boosting Rogo's already deep senior squad.

"It's good to see him back," Rogo said.

The coach warned his players not to take the Phantoms lightly, despite copping a 64-15 walloping from Wagga City last weekend - their second loss in as many games.

"Leeton is one of those underdogs that can surprise the big teams when they turn up," Rogo said.

"If we don't want to be one of those teams that gets a shock, we have to be on our toes.

"It's always a good tussle against Leeton, every year.

"I watched them in the pre-season and they've got a good pack of forwards - very hard-running boys - and we've got to be awake in that area to contain them."

The match will begin at 3.15pm with the reserves to run on at 2pm and the women's sevens at 1.30pm.

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