Counties Manukau and Otago have named their strongest available line-ups for Friday's ITM Cup Championship Final in Pukekohe.
Counties Manukau and Otago have named their strongest available line-ups for the ITM Cup Championship Final at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe.
Otago are boosted by the inclusions of Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson as they look to topple the regular-season winners Counties.
“With Tamati and Ben back there I think it's going to help the team out a lot and hopefully in those crucial moments we'll make the right decisions,” Otago head coach Tony Brown told ONE News.
“They've been a big part of our team this year even though they've only played two or three games and it's great to have them back and the boys enjoy training and playing with them.”
The Steamers' line-up seems much the stronger with the likes of full-back Tim Nanai-Williams, hooker Mahonri Schwalger and wing Sherwin Stowers involved, but the visitors enter the finale confident following their 41-34 semi-final victory over the Tasman Makos.
Counties made their way to the final after beating Southland 48-23 in another entertaining clash where Stowers, Bundee Aki, Ray Lee-Lo (2), Tony Pulu and DJ Forbes all crossed.
Counties: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Tony Pulu, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 DJ Forbes, 6 Mark Selwyn, 5 Daniel Adongo, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Maka Tatafu, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 David Bason, 21 Kane Hancy, 22 Tyrone Lefau.
Otago: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Marshall Suckling, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Glenn Dickson, 11 Buxton Popoali'i, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Lee Allan, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Rob Verbakel, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tama Tuirirangi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Adam Hill, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Peter Breen, 21 Jayden Spence, 22 Tony Enso.
Date: Friday, October 26
Kick-off: 19:35 local
Venue: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Referee: Keith Brown
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly, Ben Skeen
Television match official: Garratt Williamson