All Blacks number eight Hoskins Sotutu has been named to start for the Counties Manukau PIC Steelers in their Bunnings Warehouse NPC home opener against North Harbour on Friday night.
Sotutu came off the bench in last week’s opening round loss to Manawatu but will make his first start for the province in front of PIC Steelers fans when they return home to Navigation Homes Stadium.
The six-test Blues star impressed with a few touches against the Turbos and has spent the week training with the side.
Coach Tai Lavea has handed lock Alex McRobbie a first cap. The grandson of renowned former Steelers player Ean McRobbie was an age group star and has returned home from Japan this season, playing for the Bombay club.
Also making his PIC Steelers debut is former Southland forward Ray Tatafu, who has been named to start at blindside.
Hurricanes halfback Jonathan Taumateine take over the starting spot for the injured Cameron Roigard, while the experienced Liam Daniela comes onto the bench.
Amanaki Savieti gets his first start for the PIC Steelers; named at centre, with Asaeli Tikoirotuma dropping to the bench.
Reserve prop Suetena Asomua will play his blazer game.
PIC Steelers: 1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 2. Joe Royal, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Matiaha Martin (co-capt), 5. Viliame Rarasea, 6. Ray Tatafu, 7. Alamanda Motuga, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 10. Orbyn Leger (co-capt), 11. Jarrod Halliday, 12. Tanielu Tele’a, 13. Amanaki Savieti, 14. Jared Page, 15. Luteru Laulala. Reserves: Zuriel Togiatama, Suetena Asomua, Kalolo Tuiloma, Alex McRobbie, Nili Latu, Liam Daniela, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Riley Hohepa.
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