PIC Steelers coach Reon Graham has brought some Super Rugby experience into his starting side for Saturday’s Ranfurly Shield clash with Wellington in the capital.
Hooker Ioane Moananu (Crusaders), former Chiefs loose forward Viliami Taulani and Chiefs winger Peniasi Malimali have been named in the starting XV for a vital NPC game at Sky Stadium as the visitors eye both the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy and the famous Log of Wood.
Graham has opted for a six-two forwards and backs split on his bench, rolling with halfback cover in Cohen Brady-Leatham while AJ Alatimu returns as a utility option off the pine.
Returning for his first game this season is lock forward William Furniss, who is listed on the bench.
Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Ahsee Tuala and Nikolai Foliaki have been ruled out after picking up injuries in Sunday’s loss to Waikato.
Tevita Ofa takes his place at centre again in his blazer game for the Union.
The PIC Steelers famously won the Ranfurly Shield a decade ago – their first ever triumph – when they beat Hawke’s Bay in Napier. Skipper Sean Reidy scored a try that day while Toni Pulu started on the wing. PIC Steelers squad members Jimmy Tupou, Maama Vaipulu and Tuala all were in the match-day XV in arguably the most memorable victory in Union history.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.05pm.
PIC Steelers v Wellington: 1. Kauvaka Kaivelata, 2. Ioane Moananu, 3. Salesi Tuifua, 4. Alex McRobbie, 5. James Thompson, 6. Viliami Taulani, 7. Sean Reidy (capt), 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Liam Daniela, 10. Riley Hohepa, 11. Peniasi Malimali, 12. Sione Molia, 13. Tevita Ofa, 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Etene Nanai-Seturo. Reserves: Ian West-Stevens, Keran van Staden, Siate Taupaki, William Furniss, Adam Brash, Cohen Brady-Leatham, Sam Tuifua, AJ Alatimu.
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