Preview: Southland v Waikato

Date published: September 5 2013

Waikato will be craving a victory that would see them close the gap on the leading three when they face Southland at Rugby Park on Friday.

Waikato will be craving a victory that would close the gap on the leading three when they face Southland at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Friday.

Former Otago scrum-half Brad Weber, who has joined the Mooloos for the remainder of the season, is the notable inclusion. He has been bracketed to start alongside Kylem O'Donnell.

Other changes include the return to the starting line-up of openside flanker Jack Lam and outside backs Tim Mikkelson and Trent Renata.

Fly-half Sam Christie also returns via the bench after missing the Canterbury match and wing Semisi Masirewa drops back into the reserves.

“We are looking forward to getting back out on the field after a tough loss to Canterbury,” head coach Johnny Walters told the Waikato website.

“Despite the result we had our moments in that match and we feel our young side is not far off from putting in an 80 minute performance.”

Meanwhile, the Stags have made several changes to their backline for the game as Willis Halaholo replaces Bryan Milne at centre, with Milne moving to wing while Cardiff Vaega shifts out one position to the number thirteen jersey.

Marty McKenzie has been named at fly-half, swapping positions with Scott Eade who this week drops to the bench.

The teams:

Southland: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Bryan Milne, 13 Cardiff Vaega, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tim Cornforth, 10 Marty Mckenzie, 9 Tayler Adams, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Nick Barrett, 2 David Hall, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (capt).
Replacements: 16 Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17 Tukiterangi Raimona, 18 Hale T-Pole, 19 Naulia Dawai, 20 Nemia Kenatale, 21 Gareth William-Spiers, 22 Scott Eade.

Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Joe Perawiti, 11 Save Tokula, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Brad Weber/Kylem O'Donnell, 8 Adam Burn, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Brian Alainu'uese, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacments: 16 Vance Elliott, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Nick Ross, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Kylem O'Donnell/Brad Weber, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Semisi Masirewa.

Date: Friday, September 6
Kick-off: 18:05 local (07:05 BST, 06:05 GMT)
Referee: Matt O'Brien (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kirk Rae, Andrew Rowland
Television match official: Peter Wilkinson