Preview: Auckland v North Harbour

Date published: September 19 2014

Auckland have been boosted by the return of Patrick Tuipulotu for their ITM Cup clash with North Harbour at Eden Park on Saturday.

Auckland have been boosted by the return of All Black Patrick Tuipulotu for Saturday's clash with North Harbour.

Tuipulotu came off the bench against South Africa last weekend and is now on ITM Cup duty as Auckland look to stay in touch with the top three.

In other changes to the XV, Hadleigh Parkes and Peter Saili return from injury at outside centre and number eight respectively while TJ Faiane makes his first start in the number 12 jersey alongside fly-half Gareth Anscombe. Simon Hickey is benched.

Meanwhile, North Harbour head coach Steve Jackson has rewarded the majority of the XV that overcame Manawatu with a further start this week.

Michael Farmer returns from injury to start at lock ahead of Gerard Tuioti-Mariner.

Jordan Manihera reclaims his starting spot at blindside flanker in place of Irwin Finau, while in the only alteration to the backline Tevita Li returns on the left wing for David Raikuna.

On the bench, replacement hooker Ray Niuia is back from injury while flanker Josh Blucher is in line to earn his second cap after making a lasting impression against the Turbos.

The teams:

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su'a, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 Jack Whetton, 19 Joe Edwards, 20 Leon Fukofuka, 21 Melani Nanai, 22 Simon Hickey.

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

Date: Saturday, September 20
Kick-off: 17.35 local (06:35 BST, 05:35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park
Referee: Michael Lash