McCalman's Wild Knights in Top League title fight

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies backrower Ben McCalman will vie for a Top league grand final spot this weekend, with the Panasonic Wild Knights.

The back-to-back Top League champions will face the Kobelco Steelers for a spot in the title game after an undefeated pool stage.

McCalman will come off the bench for the Wild Knights, in his first season with the team.

His Aussie teammate, flyhalf Berrick Barnes, will miss his second match in a row after sitting out the team’s quarter-final with a groin injury.

Barnes has been one of the Wild Knights’ best in recent seasons, steering the side around at 10.

The Wallabies pair are the only still in the major playoffs, with a number of other Aussies in the relegation dogfight.

In the bottom half of the play-off equation, Digby Ioane’s Honda Heat take on the Andy Friend-coached Suntory on Saturday.

The Heat and Sungoliaths won in the first weekend of playoffs, keeping them out of relegation danger for 2015-16.

Ioane will come off the bench for the Heat as the two sides face off for a shot at ninth spot overall.

Bernard Foley will again start at flyhalf for the Ricoh Black Rams as they face the NEC Green Rockets.

Capped Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight will line up in the opposite 10 jumper, starting for NEC in the match.

The Black Rams are yet to win a match this season, with eight games played, while the Green Rockets have managed one win from their efforts.

Newly signed Aussie Sevens player, Nick Cummins, will come off the bench for the Coca-Cola West Red Sparks in their game against the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.

Mark Gerrard will start at flyhalf for the Toyota Industries Shuttles against the Kubota Spears in their play-off match on Saturday afternoon.

Gerrard scored a try in the Shuttles’ opening playoff win against the Black Rams a victory that kept them away from the relegation zone.