Preview: Counties v Wellington

Date published: September 25 2014

Victor Vito will make his return to the field for Wellington on Saturday, as they face off with Counties Manukau.

The number eight has been sidelined since June due to a neck injury and his return is a welcome boost to a side that has lost six straight games.

Vito’s return is the only change to the pack but Ambrose Curtis switches wings, while Jason Woodward returns from his ban and wears 14.

Coming back from a knee injury, Ope Peleseuma is at inside centre, and Jackson Garden-Bachop picks up the full-back jersey after a promising display off the bench last week against Tasman.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Tupou returns at lock for Counties along with Onosa’i Auva’a who is at openside and Sherwin Stowers at full-back.

Amongst the replacements, loose forward Sam Henwood will get an opportunity to make his ITM Cup debut from the bench and is joined by Sam Vaka and Tim Nanai-Williams.

Ronald Raaymakers will take over the captaincy for the game which is centre Reynold Lee-Lo’s 50th match for the Steelers. He is the sixth Steeler to reach the milestone this season.

The teams:

Counties: 15 Sherwin Stowers, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Ahsee Tuala, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Onosa’i Auva’a, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers (capt), 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Sean Bagsha, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Sam Henwoood, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Sam Vaka, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.

Wellington: 15 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ope Peleseuma, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Sheridan Rangihuna, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Adam Hill, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Taniela Koroi, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Tolu Fahamokioa.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Eric Sione, 18 Vaea Fifita, 19 Pau Halafihi, 20 Frae Wilson, 21 Tu Umaga-Marshall, 22 TBC.

Date: Saturday, September 27
Kick-off: 17:35 local (06:35 BST, 05:35 GMT)
Venue: ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Referee: Nick Briant