Paul Feeney has made one injury-enforced change to the Auckland team set to play Manawatu in Palmerston North on Sunday (kick off 2.35pm).
Lolagi Visinia was injured in Auckland’s loss to Canterbury and will be replaced by Ben Lam in a slightly re-jigged back line.
“In our backline we’ve a lot of players that can play a lot of positions, so this week Hadleigh returns to second five, Francis at centre and George pushes out to the wing. For us it’s about getting the right mix,” said Feeney.
The coaches resisted the urge to make wholesale changes after suffering a big loss at the hands of Canterbury on Saturday.
“We’ve decided to have faith in this team. It could have gone one of two ways, make a few changes after a poor performance or have faith and give everyone a second chance and get on with it,” said Feeney.
An improved performance this weekend will require better accuracy.
“We have pinpointed things that went wrong and have worked on rectifying those. We will have to be more accurate and play more up-tempo because last week we looked a bit lethargic at times.”
When Auckland travelled to Manawatu last season they recorded a narrow 21-18 victory, Feeney said he expects another tough competition this year.
“They’ll be buoyant after beating Northland so we’re expecting a strong showing. If you take Manawatu lightly it’s at your own peril,” said Feeney.
Auckland team to face Manawatu
1. Sam Prattley (Pakuranga)
2. Tom McCartney (Pakuranga)
3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar TEC)
4. Liaki Moli (Manukau Rovers)
5. Jack Whetton (Grammar TEC)
6. Joe Edwards (Pakuranga)
7. Sean Polwart (University)
8. Peter Saili (Marist)
9. Junior Poluleuligaga (Papatoetoe)
10. Gareth Anscombe (Ponsonby)
11. George Moala (Grammar TEC)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (Grammar TEC)
13. Francis Saili (Marist)
14. Ben Lam (Grammar TEC)
15. Charles Piutau (Pakuranga)
16. Gafatasi Su’a (Ponsonby)
17. Nick Barrett
18. William Lloyd (Marist)
19. Blake Gibson (Ponsonby)
20. Wayne Ngaluafe (Ponsonby)
21. Vince Aso (Ponsonby)
22. Simon Hickey (Grammar TEC)