Coach Reon Graham has been forced into some changes with his All Blacks contingent and skipper Sekope Kepu ruled out of Saturday’s NPC game against Manawatu at Navigation Homes Stadium with three players set to bring up milestones.
Kepu, the international centurion and squad captain, ruptured his Achilles against North Harbour on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season.
Nepo Laulala and Hoskins Sotutu have joined Dalton Papali’i in the All Blacks squad this week and are also unavailable, meaning Graham has promoted Suetena Asomua (prop) and Sam Tuifua (number eight) to the starting side.
Sean Reidy starts at open side and will captain the side in Kepu’s absence with Adam Brash moving to the bench while Zuriel Togiatama is preferred at hooker.
Patumahoe prop Lionel Evans will make his PIC Steelers debut when he comes on from the bench.
Reidy joins in-form first-five Riley Hohepa and fullback Jared Page in celebrating their blazer games on Saturday.
The game kicks off at 7.05pm with the Bayleys Counties Manukau Bs playing Taranaki in the curtain-raiser.
PIC Steelers v Manawatu: 1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 2. Zuriel Togiatama, 3. Suetena Asomua, 4. William Furniss, 5. Samuel Slade, 6. Alex McRobbie, 7. Sean Reidy (capt), 8. Sam Tuifua, 9. Cameron Roigard, 10. Riley Hohepa. 11. Peniasi Malimali, 12. AJ Alatimu, 13. Nikolai Foliaki, 14. Ahsee Tuala, 15. Jared Page. Reserves: 16. Ioane Moananu, 17. Mark Royal, 18. Lionel Evans, 19. Setefano Leavasa, 20. Adam Brash, 21. Jonathan Taumateine, 22. Tevita Ofa, 23. Nua Soti.
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