Planet Rugby

Preview: Auckland v Tasman

29th August 2014 14:28

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Steven Luatua Auckland ITM Cup 2012

Steven Luatua: Returns from All Blacks duty for Auckland

All Blacks Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau will start for Auckland in Sunday's clash with Tasman at Eden Park.

Auckland coach Paul Feeney has made just two other injury-enforced changes to his side that got a bonus point victory over Manawatu last weekend.

"We were poor against Canterbury so come away from Manawatu with five points was pleasing," he said.

"The first 20 minutes were good, in the middle 40 there were a few too many errors and we know that so I think we've made improvements but still have plenty to do."

The inclusion of Faumuina, Luatua and Piutau has been a boost to the team.

"It's great to have them," added Feeney.

"Those three inject some enthusiasm and confidence and they've been a big part of our group for a couple of years so they get along with the boys and they enjoy coming back and playing for Auckland."

The other changes see Hadleigh Parkes and Liaki Moli rested due to injury, with Francis Saili moving in to inside centre and William Lloyd promoted for his first start in an Auckland jersey.

Feeney said the high-flying Tasman will present a tough challenge on Sunday.

"We love playing at home but know Tasman is a very good side, they have attacking weapons all over the park," he explained.

They've scored something like 11 tries in two games so we know we're in for a battle."

Auckland players will celebrate Schools Day by playing in their high school's First XV socks on Sunday.

More to follow...

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14. Ben Lam, 13 George Moala, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Vince Aso, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 William Lloyd, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney (c), 1 Sam Prattley.
16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Joe Edwards, 19 Nepia Fox Matamua, 20 Leon Fukofuka, 21 Lolagi Visinia, 22 Simon Hickey.

Tasman: tbc

Date: Sunday, August 31
Kick-off: 16:35 local (05:35 BST, 04:35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Damian Mitchelmore

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1Taranaki1038
2Tasman1038
3Canterbury1034
4Auckland1030
5Counties Manukau1028