Taranaki will field the same starting XV for two games in a row for the first time in 40 games when they face Hawke's Bay on Friday.
Taranaki will field the same starting XV for two games in a row for the first time in 40 games when they face Hawke's Bay in Napier on Friday.
On a rare occasion when injuries have not cut into the options available, Taranaki coach Colin Cooper has grabbed hold of the chance to send the same men who ground out a 9-9 draw against Counties Manukau forward again.
It is a luxury he has not enjoyed since September 18, 2010, when Taranaki fronted for the union's 125th jubilee match against Canterbury.
The only change for the playing squad comes on the bench where Toa Halafihi comes in for Leighton Price in a broad hint the second-row will be asked to front for 80 minutes on Wednesday against Waikato.
“It gives us a bit better balance off the bench as well,” said Taranaki assistant coach Leo Crowley.
“That means Blade [Thomson] will give us cover at lock.”
No matter how they try and put the issue to one side and concentrate on Hawke's Bay, the fact they have three games in 10 days will have an influence on the tight five selections, especially.
“They are going to struggle to get 80 minutes in every game, so matter how you look at it, it gives us better balance and puts Leighton on ice for Waikato,” added Crowley.
There was no temptation to make changes, with the coaching staff reasonably happy with the way the starting side fronted against Counties Manukau.
“At the end of the day we put what we thought was our strongest side out against Counties,” explained Crowley.
“While we feel we didn't really fire a shot in a lot of ways, even though we competed really well, we didn't quite nail it, so why wouldn't we put the same side out and try and do that?”
More to follow…
Hawke's Bay: tbc
Taranaki: 15 Codey Rei, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 James Marshall (c), 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Berny Hall, 6 Mitchell Crosswell, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Riki Hoeata, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Sione Lea, 18 Toa Halafihi, 19 Doug Tietjens, 20 Warwick Lahmert, 21 Jackson Ormond, 22 Beaudein Waaka.
Date: Friday, August 22
Kick-off: 20:05 local (09:05 BST, 08:05 GMT)
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Referee: Michael Lash