Planet Rugby

Preview: Manawatu v Auckland

22nd August 2014 13:07

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Ben Lam Auckland ITM Cup 2012

Ben Lam: Starts on the wing for Auckland

Auckland coach Paul Feeney has made one injury-enforced change for Sunday's clash with Manawatu in Palmerston North.

Speedster Lolagi Visinia was injured in last weekend's loss to Canterbury and will be replaced by Ben Lam in a slightly re-jigged backline.

"In our backline we've a lot of players that can play a lot of positions, so this week Hadleigh returns to second five, Francis at centre and George pushes out to the wing. For us it's about getting the right mix," said Feeney.

The coaches resisted the urge to make wholesale changes after suffering a big loss at the hands of Canterbury on Saturday.

"We've decided to have faith in this team," added Feeney.

"It could have gone one of two ways, make a few changes after a poor performance or have faith and give everyone a second chance and get on with it."

An improved performance this weekend will require better accuracy.

"We have pinpointed things that went wrong and have worked on rectifying those," explained Feeney.

"We will have to be more accurate and play more up-tempo because we looked a bit lethargic at times."

When Auckland travelled to Manawatu last season they recorded a narrow 21-18 victory, Feeney said he expects another tough assignment this year.

"They'll be buoyant after beating Northland so we're expecting a strong showing," he said.

"If you take Manawatu lightly it's at your own peril."

More to follow...

The teams:

Manawatu: tbc

Auckland: 15 Charles Pitau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Liaki Moli,3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 William Lloyd, 19 Blake Gibson, 20 Wayne Ngaluafe, 21 Vince Aso, 22 Simon Hickey.

Date: Sunday, August 24
Kick-off: 14:35 local (03:35 BST, 02:35 GMT)
Venue: FMG Stadium, Palmerston North
Referee: Mike Fraser

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