Aaron Smith’s long-awaited return to the green and white jersey will be via the bench when the Turbos take on Northland in Whangarei on Sunday.
Smith is part of a powerful reserves bench which also includes Nehe Milner-Skudder and rising stars Tyler Laubscher and TK Howden.
Smith has not played for the Turbos since 2011 and has been stranded on 43 games ever since after his All Blacks commitments took over.
The 31-year-old will back up captain and two-time reigning Player of the Season Jamie Booth.
Feilding Yellow first five-eighth Ben Wyness will get the first crack in the No 10 jersey having beaten out Stewart Cruden.
Wyness has had a patient wait with his 2018 season ruled out through injury and his 2019 campaign cut short after one game through injury.
There is no lack of height in the loose forwards with Liam Mitchell and Micaiah Torrance-Read, both regular locks, set to pack done on the blindside and openside flanks respectively.
Teofilo Paulo will make his Turbos debut at lock alongside another debutant in former West Coast representative Sam Liebezeit.
Michael Alaalatoa is back in the Turbos’ starting side having spent last season in Canterbury.
He is joined in the front row by hooker Sam Stewart and prop Tietie Tuimauga.
Manawatu: Te Rangatira Waitokia, Newton Tudreu, Josiah Maraku, James Tofa, Adam Boult, Ben Wyness, Jamie Booth (c), Brayden Iose, Micaiah Torrance-Read, Liam Mitchell, Teofilo Paulo, Sam Liebezeit, Michael Alaalatoa, Sam Stewart, Tietie Tuimauga. Reserves: Siua Maile, Paulo Leleisiuao, Kyle Stewart, TK Howden, Tyler Laubscher, Aaron Smith, Stewart Cruden, Nehe Milner-Skudder.
– Manawatu Rugby
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