Experienced players return for Wellington Lions

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Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes has recalled a number of experienced players for Sunday's Mitre 10 Cup Premiership match against North Harbour at Westpac Stadium.

Gibbes has made nine changes and two positional switches from the Wellington starting XV which lost to Waikato in Hamilton on Wednesday night.

Fullback Wes Goosen, wing Ben Lam, first five-eighth Jackson Garden-Bachop, flankers Vaea Fifita and Du'Plessis Kirifi, as well as lock James Blackwell, all return to the run-on team after impressing in the opening weeks of the Mitre 10 Cup.

Gibbes has also promoted New Zealand Under-20 Xavier Numia to the starting side for the first time after he came off the bench against Southland and Waikato while Kemara Hauiti-Parapara gets the start at halfback.

Second five-eighth Billy Proctor has also been given an opportunity in the midfield where he will pair up with older brother and captain Matt.

"We were disappointed with some of the aspects of our play, especially the start we made against Waikato and we want to improve on that pretty quickly," Gibbes said.

"We think the guys we have brought back in will make a difference but the onus is on them to perform, just like it is for the whole squad as we progress through the competition.

"North Harbour are certainly a side which enjoys playing with the ball and we are expecting it to be a really tough but entertaining match which we will need to be at our best for."

Kick-off is 2.05pm.

The Wellington Lions squad to meet North Harbour is:

15 Wes Goosen (Old Boys University)
14 Ben Lam (Tawa)
13 Matt Proctor (Oriental-Rongotai) (c)
12 Billy Proctor (Marist St Pats)
11 Malo Tuitama (Oriental-Rongotai)
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Northern United)
9 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Old Boys University)
7 Du'Plessis Kirifi (Northern United)
6 Vaea Fifita (Wellington)
5 Will Mangos (Old Boys University)
4 James Blackwell (Petone)
3 Joel Hintz (Old Boys University)
2 Asafo Aumua (Avalon)
1 Xavier Numia (Oriental-Rongotai)


16 James O'Reilly (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
17 Tolu Fahamokioa (Tawa)
18 Tietie Tuimauga (Johnsonville)
19 Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poneke)
20 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone)
21 Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
22 Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata)
23 Trent Renata (Oriental-Rongotai)