Southland coach Dave Hewett has made wholesale changes to his side to face Auckland in the Stags’ final home game in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup.
Only Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Phil Halder will run out in the same jersey they wore in Sunday’s loss to Bay of Plenty at Rugby Park.
The starting fifteen includes 11 changes and a further two positional switches with Tony Lamborn taking the captaincy and moving back to the blindside flank and Lewis Ormond, one of three Southland try-scorers on the weekend, moving from the left wing to fullback.
Shaun Stodart, Andrew Ready and Chris Apoua make up an all new front row with Brenton Howden partnering Selby-Rickit at lock and Bill Fukofuka returning at Number Eight.
The backline has been fully revamped. Nico Costa gets another start at halfback, inside Tayler Adams who will make his second start of an injury-plagued season, with Matt Johnson and Aleki Morris-Lome to partner each other in midfield and Rory van Vugt and Jackson Ormond getting starts on the wing.
Meanwhile, Viliami Tosi caps a strong season for his club Marist and for Southland B, coming on to the bench as loose forward cover for the game.
Hewett said the changes were in part about managing work-load in the final week of the season, along with giving players an opportunity to express themselves at season’s end.
“We need to be sensible and share the workload in Storm Week. Every team faces it and three games in eight days is hard work. Auckland are facing the same and with their semi-final aspirations they will be very conscious of their players’ workloads as well.”
“It’s great to give someone like Aleki (Morris-Lome) another opportunity and I’m looking forward to seeing he and Matty Johnson pair up outside Tayler (Adams).”
“It’s a great opportunity for us against a top premiership side and everyone loves to challenge Auckland and we’re certainly no different,” Hewett said.
The full side for the match which kicks off at 7:35 Wednesday evening is: