PIC Steelers coach Reon Graham has been forced into some changes and welcomes back experienced prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth for Friday night’s week two Bunnings Warehouse NPC clash with Hawke’s Bay at Navigation Homes Stadium.
Moana Pasifika Super Rugby player Lindenmuth returns from injury to join the PIC Steelers bench while Graham has opted for experience in the starting side for the side’s first home game of the season.
Winger Toni Pulu comes off the bench to start on the left wing while Suetena Asomua will start up front with young prop Salesi Tuifua dropping back to the bench after an impressive debut in New Plymouth last week.
Ioane Moananu picked up a minor injury that rules him out this week, meaning Pukekohe’s Ian West-Stevens will get his first start at hooker.
Academy player Nikolasi Muli comes onto the bench and will make his PIC Steelers debut if he takes to the field.
“Ioane has a slight strain so we will give him a week to recover, meaning Ian West-Stevens gets his first start,” Graham said. “It is also great to be able to bring Nic Muli onto the bench – he is a talented young player that has come through our ranks and is going to be a very good player for us.
“We also welcome back Ezekiel this week and he will provide some impact for us.
“We are looking forward to playing in front of friends and family and will be there to cheer on the Counties Energy Heat in their game against Auckland.
“We look forward to the challenge of playing Hawke’s Bay, who will be a big test. The games against the Magpies are always classic matches and we enjoy the challenge.”
The game kicks off at 7.35pm after the Counties Energy Heat host the Auckland Storm from 5.05pm.
PIC Steelers v Hawke’s Bay: 1. Kauvaka Kaivelata, 2. Ian West-Stevens, 3. Suetena Asomua, 4. Jimmy Tupou, 5. James Thompson, 6. Maama Vaipulu, 7. Sean Reidy (capt), 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Liam Daniela, 10. Riley Hohepa, 11. Toni Pulu, 12. Nikolai Foliaki, 13. Tevita Ofa, 14. Peniasi Malimali, 15. Etene Nanai-Seturo. Reserves: Nikolasi Muli, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Salesi Tuifua, Viliami Taulani, Alex McRobbie, Kanavale Helu, AJ Alatimu, Joshua Gray.
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