Planet Rugby

Preview: Waikato v Auckland

13th September 2013 10:10

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Jackson Willison on one knee for Waikato

Need a win: Waikato

Waikato head coach Johnny Walters has made three changes to his line-up for their ITM Cup clash with Auckland at Waikato Stadium on Saturday.

There is a forced change at prop with Paul Alo-Emile getting a start after Ben Tameifuna was recently handed a one-game suspension.

Other changes are at nine where Brad Weber starts while Semisi Masirewa is on the wing with Jackson Willison and Save Tokula at centre.

"It has obviously been a tough couple of weeks for us but our young team is learning plenty from every game," Walters told Waikato's official website.

"The boys are trying their guts out and we will stick with these young fellas because we know what they are capable of and we are confident they will come right over the next few weeks."

Meanwhile, Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made five changes to the starting XV.

After playing his debut season for the Chiefs this year, Pauliasi Manu will start at loosehead prop ahead of Sam Prattley and he is relishing the opportunity of going head-to-head against many of his Super Rugby teammates.

"He was a big Chiefs man this year so we think he's the right guy to go in against Waikato, he's very motivated to play in this game," Pivac said.

Sean Polwart claims the number seven jersey in the absence of Luke Braid who has a high ankle sprain and is expected to be out of action for a few weeks, while veteran fly-half Orene Ai'i comes in for Simon Hickey who has a tight groin.

"Orene's certainly got a lot of experience which is good and he's got a new lease of life as well. He's been working really hard on his game, he's been playing a bit of Sevens so he's fit and ready to go which is pleasing," added Pivac.

"We talk about how young our side is yet this week we've got a 30-year-old and a 33-year-old at nine and ten so it's a wealth of experience and I see that only as a positive coming up against a Waikato team that's pretty desperate. We're playing down there and it's forecast to be pretty wet so experience will need to be to the fore for us."

The teams:

Waikato: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Jackson Willison (c), 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Adam Burn, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Rory Grice, 5 Sam Kilgour, 4 Brian Alainu'uese, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vance Elliott, 17 Latu Talakai, 18 Chris Middleton, 19 Jono Armstrong, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Dylan Collier.

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 George Moala, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 Saleaula Silipa, 10 Orene Ai'i, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Joe Edwards, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Jack Whetton, 19 David Whitecliffe, 20 Wayne Ngaluafe, 21 Vince Aso, 22 Tenina Sauileoge.

Date: Saturday, September 14
Kick-off: 14:35 local (03:35 BST, 02:35 GMT)
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Chris Pollock

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