Auckland head to the deep South on Wednesday night to face a Southland side looking for their first win of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup. The match is a potential banana skin for the travelling-23 with a number of changes in the starting pack.
First-year blue and whites Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Mike Sosene-Feagai, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa and Hoskins Sotutu are joined by debutant Adrian Choat in the starting forward pack for the match against the Stags.
There is however, plenty of consistency and experience in behind them with Jonathan Ruru and Jordan Trainor the only changes in the backline that faced Wellington on Wednesday night.
The match against Southland presents Auckland with an opportunity to reclaim the top spot in the standings from Tasman and secure a decent foot-hold on a home semi-final opportunity.
The Southerners will not let the visitors off easy however, as they go in search of their first win in 2018 having pushed Bay of Plenty so close on Sunday afternoon at home.
With the changes in the side, Head Coach Alama Ieremia sees the match as an opportunity for a number of players to get some game time, but acknowledges the plan remains the same.
“It’s the same old philosophy – the forwards are going to have to set the platform for us this week especially against this Southland team, so we’ve just got to make sure we start well because we can’t afford to start like we did against Wellington.”
Auckland have a short turnaround following Southland with North Harbour coming to Eden Park on Sunday afternoon for the ‘Battle of the Bridge’.
Auckland team to play Southland: (* denotes new cap)
Unavailable due to injury: Taleni Seu (back), Jack Whetton (ankle), Taniela Koroi (arm – season), Blake Gibson (quad – season), Lyndon Dunshea (shoulder – season), Tanielu Tele’a (knee – season)
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