Auckland team to face Counties Manukau

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2013 ITM Cup Round 4
Wednesday September 4
Eden Park
Kick-off 7.35pm

Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made six changes to his side for tomorrow night’s round four clash with Counties Manukau at Eden Park (kick-off 7.35pm).

“We’ve got three games in seven days essentially and a trip thrown in down to New Plymouth so it’s a tough week but that’s what you have these squads for and we’ve put a side out that we believe is going to be capable of getting the job done,” Pivac said.

With Auckland boasting four Super Rugby props, Pivac has continued his rotation policy naming an entirely different front row.

Pauliasi Manu will start at loosehead prop in place of Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu’ungafasi replaces Angus Ta’avao on the tighthead while Tom McCartney comes in at hooker for Keven Mealamu who has rejoined the All Blacks squad in Hamilton.

New Zealand Under 20 player Joe Edwards has overcome a groin strain to start on the blindside flank as Sean Polwart reverts to his favoured position of openside in place of Luke Braid who moves to the bench.

In the backs, Manu Samoa halfback Junior Poluleuligaga will make his first start of the season ahead of Piri Weepu, while Charles Piutau’s return to the All Blacks sees Lolagi Visinia shift to fullback as Tenina Sauileoge starts on the left wing.

Despite winning all three of their games so far this season, Pivac said he was unhappy with his side’s performances and has implored them to cut down on their errors against Counties Manukau.

“We’re happy with three wins but as a group we’re not happy with how we’re playing the game. We’re playing well in little fits and starts but we haven’t put 80 minutes together or anything close to it so we’ve really talked about that.

“With short turnarounds you can’t do a lot of physical work on it but we’ve certainly addressed it and we’re hoping for better things tomorrow night. We’re our own worst enemies in terms of handling errors and conceding free kicks and penalties so the discipline has to be much better.”

Pivac said he was expecting a stern challenge from the Steelers who have named a full strength team for tomorrow night’s clash.

“They ran hot against North Harbour and cold in a couple of other games so they’re a bit like us probably in that they wouldn’t be happy with 80 minutes that they’ve put together in any of their games to date but they’re going to be a dangerous side.

“Last year we played them on Eden Park in the wet and we struggled to get through and just won in the end so we respect Counties and Tana’s a very astute man. I’m sure despite all the talk about their Ranfurly Shield challenge they’ll be totally focussed on the points that are up for grabs tomorrow night and you can see that by the side they’ve named.”

The Auckland team to face Counties Manukau at Eden Park on Wednesday night (kick-off 7.35pm) is:

N.B: Tickets are available from just $10 for adults and kids 14 and under are free. Visit Tickets.co.za or call 0800 111 999. Travel on selected trains with your match with your match ticket.

Starting XV

15. Lolagi Visinia (Suburbs)
14. George Moala (Grammar Carlton)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Pakuranga)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (C) (Grammar Carlton)
11. Tenina Sauileoge (Papatoetoe)
10. Simon Hickey (Grammar Carlton)
9. Junior Poluleuligaga (Papatoetoe)
8. Peter Saili (Marist)
7. Sean Polwart (University)
6. Joe Edwards (Pakuranga)
5. Patrick Tuipulotu (Ponsonby)
4. Liaki Moli (Manukau)
3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar Carlton)
2. Tom McCartney (Pakuranga)
1. Pauliasi Manu (University)

Reserves

16. Gafatasi Su’a (Ponsonby)
17. Angus Ta’avao (Marist)
18. Jack Whetton (Grammar Carlton)
19. Luke Braid (University)
20. Piri Weepu (Maungarua)
21. Vince Aso (Ponsonby)
22. Saleaula Silipa (Pakuranga)

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