Coach Reon Graham has stuck with largely the same PIC Steelers side that won their opening game of the NPC season for Friday night’s Ranfurly Shield Challenge against Hawke’s Bay in Napier.
Graham has made just the one injury-enforced change to the 23 with Sam Slade replacing Moana Pasifika teammate Alex McRobbie at blindside flanker with youngster Jadin Kingi coming onto the bench for his PIC Steelers debut.
He has also swapped Etene Nanai-Seturo from the left wing to fullback with Jared Page moving across and wearing the number 11 this week.
The rest of the playing squad is unchanged from the team that edged Otago last Saturday at Navigation Homes Stadium as the PIC Steeler look to emulate what their 2013 counterparts did in lifting the famous Log of Wood at McLean Park.
Hawke’s Bay, fresh off an overtime draw with Waikato in week one, will provide Graham’s side a stern challenge but it is one they are embracing.
“It is something we are looking forward to big time – the boys are pumped for the opportunity. Not many people get a chance to have a crack at it so we are excited,” Graham said.
“It is another game in terms of what we are trying to achieve but people go through their whole careers and don’t get a chance. I was talking to Keps [skipper Sekope Kepu] and he has never played in the Shield game so you can’t take it for granted.
“We’ll throw everything at it and see what happens.”
The game kicks off at 7.05pm.
1. Kauvaka Kaivelata, 2. Zuriel Togiatama, 3. Sekope Kepu (capt), 4. William Furniss, 5. Viliame Rarasea, 6. Sam Slade, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Sam Tuifua, 9. Cameron Roigard, 10. Riley Hohepa, 11. Jared Page, 12. AJ Alatimu, 13. Nikolai Foliaki, 14. Ahsee Tuala, 15. Etene Nanai-Seturo. Reserves: 16. Ioane Moananu, 17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18. Suetena Asomua, 19. Jadin Kingi, 20. Adam Brash, 21. Liam Daniela, 22. Tevita Ofa, 23. Esau Filimoehala.
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