Preview: North Harbour v Counties

21st Aug 2013, 14:44

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Hika Elliot: Debut for Counties Manukau

Hika Elliot: Debut for Counties Manukau

Counties Manukau boss Tana Umaga has made six changes to his starting XV for Thursday's clash with North Harbour in Albany.

Counties Manukau boss Tana Umaga has made six changes to his starting XV for Thursday's clash with North Harbour in Albany.

The Steelers will have a new front row with prop Sam Aiono starting alongside hooker Hika Elliot and prop Jarrod Firth, who will both be making their debut for the Steelers.

The other changes to the side will see Jimmy Tupou start at lock, the midfield pairing of Rey Lee-Lo and Sam Vaka with Frank Halai on the starting on the wing.

Simon Lemalu and Bundee Aki move to the pine and are joined by potential ITM Cup new caps, hooker Michael Lea and Samoan international Ki Anufe.

Umaga is determined to improve on last weekend's performance when they suffered a 55-16 defeat to Wellington in Pukekohe.

"This is important game for us and after the weekend we know teams will be targeting us so we need to be at our best to regains some confidence," he said.

"It is the first week we have had our full squad in with the exception of Frank Halai who was with the All Blacks which has been good. It is good to have Jimmy Tupou back and we are thankful to the Crusaders who have postponed his surgery till after the season."

Meanwhile, North Harbour are sweating over the fitness of their captain and hooker James Parsonsafter he suffered a head knock in their 27-20 defeat to Auckland last week.

More to follow...

The teams:

North Harbour: tbc

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