Planet Rugby

Preview: Auckland v Counties Manukau

03rd September 2013 06:54

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Sean Polwart for Auckland

Openside: Sean Polwart

Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made six changes to his starting line-up for Wednesday's Round Four clash with Counties Manukau at Eden Park.

With Auckland boasting four Super Rugby props, Pivac has continued his rotation policy naming an entirely different front-row for the showdown.

Pauliasi Manu will start at loosehead in place of Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu'ungafasi replaces Angus Ta'avao three, while Tom McCartney is hooker.

New Zealand U20 player Joe Edwards has overcome a groin strain to start on the blindside flank as Sean Polwart reverts to his favoured position of openside in place of Luke Braid.

In the backs, Manu Samoa half-back Junior Poluleuligaga will make his first start of the season ahead of Piri Weepu, while Charles Piutau's return to the All Blacks sees Lolagi Visinia shift to full-back as Tenina Sauileoge starts on the left wing.

"We've got three games in seven days essentially and a trip thrown in down to New Plymouth so it's a tough week but that's what you have these squads for and we've put a side out that we believe is going to be capable of getting the job done," Pivac said.

Meanwhile, Counties Manukau Steelers coaches Tana Umaga and Steve Jackson have made multiple changes to their side for the game.

Hooker Suliasi Taufalele comes in for Hika Elliot who is sitting the match out as a precautionary measure after a head knock last week.

Ki Anufe is at fly-half as Baden Kerr recovers from a corked thigh, Ahsee Tuala starts onto the left wing for Toni Pulu who has been in hospital with an infection and Frank Halai returns from the All Blacks camp to start on the right wing.

Sikeli Nabou returns from injury to take his place on the bench and is joined by potential new cap Sione Molia from the Karaka Rugby Football Club.

"We know this is a big week for us but the fact is we need to concentrate on our game against Auckland and play much better than we did last week," said Umaga.

"It is obvious we have been hit hard by injuries but that is just part of the sport and this match provides several players the exciting opportunity to stand up."

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 George Moala, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (capt), 11 Tenina Sauileoge, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Jack Whetton, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Vince Aso, 22 Saleaula Silipa,

Counties Manukau: 15 Sherwin Stowers, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Ahsee Tuala, 10 Ki Anufe, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee (capt), 7 Maama Vaipulu, 6 Adam Cathcart, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Sam Aiono.
Replacements: 16 Micheal Lea, 17 Simon Lemalu, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Sean Reidy, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Sam Vaka, 22 Sione Molia.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe

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