All Blacks back to boost PIC Steelers

All Blacks back to boost PIC Steelers

The PIC Steelers welcome back their three All Blacks for Friday night’s clash with defending champions Waikato at Navigation Homes Stadium.

Prop Nepo Laulala and loose forwards Dalton Palalii and Hoskins Sotutu will start their first match of the Bunnings Warehouse NPC after being released from the All Blacks squad this week.

The vastly experience Laulala starts at prop, giving skipper Sekope Kepu a break this week while Papalii and (blindside) and Sotutu (number eight) have been included in the back row.

They are three of a handful of changes made for the week three clash – Moana Pasifika prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth starts on Friday night after coming off the bench in the first fortnight while Samuel Slade moves to lock.

Lindenmuth and hooker Zuriel Togiatama will each play in their blazer game on Friday night.

Exciting winger Peniasi (Benji) Malimali gets his first taste of NPC rugby this season having been named on the left wing.

Manurewa’s Setefano (Steven) Leavasa has been named to make his PIC Steelers debut off the bench having recovered from an injury sustained late in the club season.

Sean Reidy will captain the side for the first time in the absence of Kepu.

“It is a real boost to be able to have our three All Blacks in the side this week,” PIC Steelers coach Reon Graham said. “They bring an obvious quality to their play, but they also give us experience and will help the other players to take some steps forward as well.

“It is a good time to welcome them back – we have played in two physical games, and it gives us a chance to get some rest to those that are carrying small niggles.”

The game kicks off at 7.05pm and tickets can be purchased via

PIC Steelers v Waikato: 1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 2. Zuriel Togiatama, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. William Furniss, 5. Samuel Slade, 6. Dalton Papalii, 7. Sean Reidy (capt), 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Cameron Roigard, 10. Riley Hohepa, 11. Peniasi Malimali, 12. AJ Alatimu, 13. Nikolai Foliaki, 14. Jared Page, 15. Etene Nanai-Seturo. Reserves: 16. Ioane Moananu, 17. Mark Royal, 18. Suetena Asomua, 19. Jadin Kingi, 20. Setefano Leavasa, 21. Liam Daniela, 22. Tevita Ofa, 23. Esau Filimoehala.