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Preview: Wellington v Waikato

15th August 2014 07:31

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Ambrose Curtis Wellington v Waikato ITM Cup 2013

Ambrose Curtis: Starts at 14 for Wellington

Wellington coach Chris Boyd has named a strong starting XV for Saturday's ITM Cup opener with Waikato in Wellington.

Boyd has opted to start Fa'atonu Fili at first fly-half, who will combine with Petone scrum-half Jared Kahu. Kahu has been a solid performer throughout the Lions' pre-season matches, as has school leaver and debutant Leni Apisai, who has been given a start at hooker.

Lock Christian Lloyd will also earn his first cap for the Lions on Saturday, while midfielder Wes Goosen will follow suit should he get a crack off the bench.

Loose forward Brad Shields will lead the Lions onto Westpac Stadium for the first time, after playing just 28 matches for the province.

The 23-year-old has been a strong performer and hard worker within the Lions environment since his debut in 2010, and as a result, has been handed the captaincy duties for 2014.

Shields revealed he was honoured and excited to have the opportunity to lead such a proud province, and one he had come through the system of.

"I'm excited for this first match, and I'm excited to work with a fresh bunch of guys who are keen to get stuck in and do the work, and give everything they have for the Lions jersey," he said.

"Personally, I won't be changing anything in terms of the way I play. I'm just planning to stick to my game, and help the team in any way I can as their captain."

Meanwhile, Waikato coach Johnny Walters has named his squad for this clash.

Five players in the starting fifteen will make their Waikato debuts with another three potential debutants named on the bench.

Walters said: "We are excited to finally start the 2014 ITM Cup campaign.

"We have been working towards this since the start of the year and the players are chomping at the bit to finally get stuck in."

There will be no easing into the competition for Waikato as the face fellow Premiership sides Wellington, Canterbury and Taranaki in the space of 12 days.

"It is obviously a pretty tough start for us but we are confident that we have prepared well and are ready for the challenge," added Walters.

The teams:

Wellington: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ambrose Curtis, 13 Ope Peleseuma, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Tau Mamea, 10 Fa'atonu Fili, 9 Jared Kahu, 8 Brad Shields (c), 7 Adam Hill, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Christian Lloyd, 4 James Wall, 3 Eric Sione, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Tolu Fahamokioa, 18 Taniela Koroi, 19 Henry Stowers, 20 Sheridan Rangihuna, 21 Wes Goosen, 22 James So'oialo

Waikato: 15 Albert Nikoro, 14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Jordan Payne, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (c), 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 David Morgan, 4 Nick Ross, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 James McGougan, 18 Josh Tyrell, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Harrison Levien, 21 Wharenui Hawera, 22 Shayne Anderson.

Date: Saturday, August 16
Kick-off: 18:35 local (07:35 BST, 06:35 GMT)
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Shane McDermott

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FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 24
North Harbour vs CanterburyNorth Harbour vs Canterbury Preview
Thursday , September 25
Bay Of Plenty vs Northland19:35
Friday , September 26
Taranaki vs Auckland19:35
Saturday , September 27
Waikato vs Manawatu14:35
Counties Manukau vs Wellington17:35
North Harbour vs Hawkes Bay19:35
Sunday , September 28
Tasman vs Otago14:35
Canterbury vs Southland16:35
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay vs Wellington19:35
Thursday , October 2
Auckland vs Waikato19:35
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Sunday , September 21
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
Sunday , September 14
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
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Premiership 2014
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PosTeamPPts
1Canterbury628
2Tasman727
3Taranaki727
4Auckland620
5Waikato715