Injured All Black Dalton Papalii is to make his return to the field this week after five weeks on the sidelines.
Papalii injured his ankle against Bay of Plenty in Round 3 of the Mitre 10 Cup but is set to return for Auckland against Southland this weekend.
Papalii will don the number six jersey allowing teammate Adrian Choat to continue in his favoured openside role.
The looseforward – who can play both open and blindside – was not considered as an All Blacks option due to the injury. With three caps to his name, the 21-year-old will be eager to throw his name into the mix should New Zealand suffered injuries to their backrow in Japan.
As well as Papalii, Auckland are boosted this weekend by the return of Scott Scrafton to the
The blue and white hoops currently sit outside a semi-final spot, but know that positive results in the final two rounds will give them every chance at playing finals footy in 2019.
Head Coach Alama Ieremia is adamant that the team can put in a performance to be proud of. With key players back in for this week, Scrafton and Papalii in particular, Ieremia is well aware of what the two will bring come Saturday.
“They bring a lot of enthusiasm and experience, and they’ve really fired into their work this
week. They’re leaders in their roles, and as a leader you tend to do what’s best with the rest
following on from there.”
Auckland team to play Southland:
1. Alex Hodgman (Suburbs, 8 caps)
2. Leni Apisai (Loaned, 8)
3. Marcel Renata (University, 40)
4. Scott Scrafton (Grammar TEC, 26)
5. Jack Whetton (Grammar TEC, 35)
6. Dalton Papalii (Pakuranga, 15)
7. Adrian Choat (Waitemata, 9)
8. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa (Ponsonby, 9)
9. Jonathan Ruru (University, 19)
10. Harry Plummer (Grammar TEC, 20)
11. Salesi Rayasi (Marist, 19)
12. TJ Faiane – C (Pakuranga, 36)
13. Tanielu Tele’a (Marist, 12)
14. Caleb Clarke (Suburbs, 18)
15. Jordan Trainor (Ponsonby, 21)
16. Robbie Abel (College Rifles, 15)
17. Jarred Adams (Suburbs, 14)
18. Marco Fepulea’i (Ponsonby, 15)
19. Jamie Lane (Ponsonby, 13)
20. Akira Ioane (Ponsonby, 44)
21. Danny Tusitala (Ponsonby, 8)
22. Daniel Kirkpatrick (University, 8)
23. Tumua Manu (College Rifles, 20)
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