Wellington Lions name settled squad to face Counties Manukau

|   News

The Wellington Lions will head to Pukekohe with a settled squad as they prepare to face Counties Manukau in their Mitre 10 Cup Premiership match at Navigation Homes Stadium on Saturday.

Following last Sunday's 35-23 win over North Harbour, Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes has made just three changes to the starting XV.

All of those changes are in the forward pack where experienced prop Jeff To'omaga-Allen returns after being sidelined by a knee injury, openside flanker Mateaki Kafatolu replaces an injured Du'Plessis Kirifi while Isaia Walker-Leawere comes in for Will Mangos at lock.

Saturday's match will be a special occasion with the Jonah Tali Memorial Trophy to be presented to the winner.

The impressive trophy, which stands at one metre and is a symbol of the respect Lomu had in both unions, is currently held by the Wellington Lions after their 28-27 victory in 2016 when Jackson Garden-Bachop landed a last minute penalty in Pukekohe.

Gibbes said the match promised to be a special occasion with Lomu having such an impact playing for Counties Manukau and then Wellington.

"We all know the respect Jonah is held in and we want to put a performance together that reflects his standing within both unions," he said.

"We have the advantage of taking a settled squad away and that is a reflection of the work the guys put in against North Harbour, although we believe we can still improve in a number of areas if we continue to work hard.

"I know the guys are also really looking forward to the match and paying their respects to the Lomu family."

Kick-off is 2.05pm.

The Wellington Lions squad to meet Counties Manukau 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 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone)
6 Vaea Fifita (Wellington)
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poneke)
4 James Blackwell (Petone)
3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen (Marist St Pats)
2 Asafo Aumua (Avalon)
1 Xavier Numia (Oriental-Rongotai)

Reserves

16 James O'Reilly (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
17 Tolu Fahamokioa (Tawa)
18 Joel Hintz (Old Boys University)
19 Galu Taufale (Poneke)
20 Greg Foe (Poneke)
21 Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
22 Thomas Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata)
23 Pakai Turia (Poneke)