28 August 2018
Pulu and Tuiloma return to bolster Counties Manukau at home
The PIC Counties Manukau Steelers welcome back Super Rugby players Toni Pulu and Kalolo Tuiloma to the side to take on Ranfurly Shield holders Taranaki at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe on Wednesday.
Pulu makes his first appearance of the season coming back from a rib injury for his 45th game for the Steelers, one behind the most experienced player in the current squad, Sikeli Nabou. He makes a timely return to the right wing in place of Sevens star Sione Molia who started both games so far.
Tuiloma, who made his Super Rugby debut with the Highlanders this year, has overcome a calf niggle to make a welcome return as a force at set piece, although he will need to come through final training and has been bracketed with Coree Te Whata Colley.
The only other change to the pack is the debut of talented Ardmore Marist loose forward Savelio Ropati, who has played for the Steelers and Samoan Sevens sides.
In the backs, Latiume Fosita starts at first-five after his impressive debut performances especially against Bay of Plenty and he directs a backline that remains unchanged aside from Pulu’s selection.
Coach Darryl Suasua said the side is anything but down after two close losses against Auckland and Bay of Plenty.
“In both games we were on our opponents’ line at the end of the game chasing the winning try but it just did not come.
“The boys showed a big improvement in defence against Bay of Plenty and just need to trust themselves more on attack.
“This is a new team with a lot of inexperienced young players but we have shown we can mix it with anyone. We need to continue to improve in all facets with every game, get a bit more clinical at set piece and take our chances when they are offered.
“It’s great to have Toni back. He is a real leader in our team and a player of outstanding ability.
“We will need to step it up against what is a very good Taranaki side, and it will be a real test with a back-up game against Hawkes Bay on Sunday. “
The game at Navigation Homes in Pukekohe kicks off at 7.35pm on Wednesday.
The team is:
1.Sean Bagshaw, 2. Joseph Royal, 3. Kalolo Tuiloma/, 4. Viliame Rarasea, 5. Matiaha Martin, 6. Matt Vaai, 7. Sam Henwood ©, 8. Savelio Ropati; 9. Te Aihe Toma, 10. Latiume Fosita, 11. Tevita Nabura, 12. Orbyn Leger, 13. Nigel Ah Wong, 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Luteru Laulala
Reserves: 16. Gafatasi Su’a, 17. Howard Sililoto, 18. Coree Te Whata Colley, 19. Michael McKee, 20. Viliami Taulani, 21. Liam Daniela 22. Sam Furniss 23. Kalione Hala.
Not considered because of injury: Suetena Asomua (calf), Sione Fifita (calf), Daymon Leasuasu (shoulder), Dan Hyatt (hip), Jonathan Taumateine (season - hamstring), Etene Nanai-Seturo (hamstring), Fotu Lokotui (leg).
For more information contact:
CMRFU Media Manager