The final game of the SIT Zero Fees Southland Stags’ storm week has prompted another round of changes for Sunday’s season finale against Manawatu.
Lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit and loose forward Tony Lamborn will back up from the starting pack that fronted against Auckland on Wednesday night, with a new front row of Ethan De Groot, Jesse MacDonald and Morgan Mitchell.
Selby-Rickit, who has re-signed with the Stags for the next two years and has also agreed terms with the Highlanders, will be playing his blazer game for the union.
Ben Fotheringham comes back into the second row, with Ray Tatafu and Phil Halder, who was a late scratching from the game against Auckland, joining Lamborn in the loose.
Nico Costa retains his place at halfback, with James Wilson returning to first five-eight and assuming the captain’s armband previously worn by Lamborn.
Ray Nu’u’s inclusion at second five-eight pushes Matt Johnson out to centre with the electric Isaac Te Tamaki regaining his place on the right wing.
“It’s the last game of the year for us, but still a lot to play for,” Stags coach Dave Hewett said.
“We’ve talked about the incremental improvements we’ve had during the season and now it’s about putting it together for the full 80 minutes and see if we can get a win against Manawatu on Sunday.”
Physically the Stags were tracking well as they approached their third game in the space of eight days, Hewett said.
“The big focus for us this week, particularly after the Wednesday game, was recovery. Player welfare is a massive part of what we need to considers as a a coaching group. There are some boys who have backed up and some who are playing all three games. We gave the boys a day away yesterday and edited our training today to make sure recovery was our main focus.”
Manawatu have been bolstered by the inclusion of All Blacks Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ngani Laumape and Jackson Hemopo.
|No.||POSITION||SURNAME, FIRST NAME|
|1||Loosehead Prop||Ethan De Groot|
|3||Tighthead Prop||Morgan Mitchell|
|4||Left Lock||Ben Fotheringham|
|5||Right Lock||Manaaki Selby-Rickit|
|6||Blindside Flanker||Ray Tatafu|
|7||Openside Flanker||Phil Halder|
|8||Number Eight||Tony Lamborn|
|9||Half Back||Nico Costa|
|10||First Five Eight||James Wilson (c)|
|11||Left Wing||Rory van Vugt|
|12||Second Five||Ray Nu’u|
|14||Right Wing||Isaac Te Tamaki|
|15||Full Back||Lewis Ormond|
|REPLACEMENTS IN ORDER FROM HOOKER TO FULLBACK|
|20||Loose Forward||Viliami Tosi|
|21||Half Back||Jay Renton|
|22||First Five Eight||Broc Hooper|
|23||Outside Back||Aleki Morris-Lome|