Preview: Taranaki v Wellington

Date published: August 14 2015

Taranaki head coach Colin Cooper has named a powerful line-up to face Wellington on Saturday at Yarrow Stadium, with James Broadhurst included.

The defending champions are expecting a relentless Lions side hurting from their 2014 relegation, when they open their 2015 ITM Cup campaign.

The amber and blacks have been bolstered by the release of Broadhurst by the All Blacks. He will partner with Hurricanes team-mate Blade Thomson at lock. James Marshall will lead from full-back.

Exciting New Zealand U20s half-back Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will make his first class debut for the Bulls, following a season-ending injury to Jamison Gibson-Park. Caleb Mawson, Reuben O’Neill, David Ormrod and Latu Vaeno are also on debut and are eager to impress off the bench come Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Lions welcome All Black Cory Jane into their starting line-up this week. Jane will occupy the right wing on Saturday, after returning from an ankle injury that has kept him on the sidelines for the past three weeks.

Ardie Savea and Matt Proctor will also return for their province, after being out with knee and ankle injuries, respectively.

Coach Earl Va'a is confident the line-up he has named to face Taranaki will put together the strong performance they need to kick off their 2015 Championship campaign.

"These guys have been working extremely hard throughout the pre-season and a lot of work has gone into focusing on our structures," he said.

"We've named a good mix of experience to help lead some of our younger guys, and they're all looking forward to getting out on the park and having a crack."

Lock Hoani Matenga and fly-half Jonny Bentley are set to make their debuts for Wellington, as will Ben May, James Blackwell and Tomasi Alosio, should they take the field.

The teams:

Taranaki: 15 James Marshall (c), 14 Codey Rei, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Iopu Iopu-Aso, 7 Berny Hall, 6 Mitchell Crosswell, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Caleb Mawson, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Sione Lea, 19 Riki Hoeata, 20 Mitchell Brown, 21 David Ormrod, 22 Jackson Ormon/Avon Lewis, 23 Latu Vaeno.

Wellington: 15 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Joe Hill, 10 Jonny Bentley, 9 Frae Wilson, 8 Brad Shields (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Ben May, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Greg Foe, 21 Tomasi Palu, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Tomasi Alosio.

Date: Saturday, August 15
Venue: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Kick-off: 14:35 local (02:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock