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Preview: North Harbour v Waikato

29th August 2014 13:32

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Ben Tameifuna Waikato v Taranaki ITM Cup 2014

Ben Tameifuna: Back at three for Waikato

North Harbour coach Steve Jackson has made one enforced change to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with Waikato in Albany.

An injury sustained to centre Nafi Tuitavake against Southland last week has forced Jackson to bring Niko Ratumaitavuki in as his replacement.

"Nafi's got a high ankle sprain that's a little worse than what we first thought so we've brought Niko Ratumaitavuki in," explained Jackson.

"He's done a good job for us pre-season, he was supposed to start against Otago but through illness he was unable to take the field.

"I'm really looking forward to him getting out there, he's a smart footballer, he's strong defensively and at 12 he'll do a good job for us.

"It also gives us the chance to move Pita to 13 where he can have the freedom to move on the outside of players."

There's just one change on the bench. The front row stocks have been bolstered by the return of Adrian Smith for Franck Fricconet.

"We've had three front-rowers injured early on so we've been pretty short," added Jackson.

"Adrian's come back after a game for the B's and he's done everything right to get himself in contention for the ITM Cup side.

"He'll add some impact when he gets his chance."

Meanwhile, Waikato coach Johnny Walters has made nine changes to his starting line- up for this clash which is their third game in eight days.

Props Loni Uhila and Ben Tameifuna return to the starting front row with hooker Hame Faiva getting his first start of the year.

Flankers Whetu Douglas and Zak Hohneck are also back on the side of the scrum.

In the back-line, centre Chauncy Edwardson has been handed a Waikato debut while the exciting inside back trio of Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown all make a return to the run on side.

Waikato will be looking to bounce back to winning form on the North Shore after losses to Canterbury and Taranaki have followed an impressive opening round win over Wellington.

The teams:

North Harbour: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 David Raikuna, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Niko Ratumaitavuki, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Bryn Hall (c), 8 Jim Tuivaiti, 7 Zak Judge, 6 Jordan Manihera, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Mike Farmer, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Greg Pleasants Tate.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Adrian Smith, 18 Brandon Nansen, 19 Mario Ozich, 20 David Bason, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Luke Devcich.

Waikato: 15 Albert Nikoro, 14. Declan O'Donnell, 13 Chauncy Edwardson, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (c), 8 Adam Burn, 7 Zak Hohneck, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Jacob Skeen, 4 Luke Katene, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell. 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Nick Ross, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Wharenui Hawera, 22 Regan War

Date: Saturday, August 30
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: QBE Stadium, Albany
Referee: Glen Jackson

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