David Havili, the Crusaders vice-captain who was lighting up Super Rugby before a fractured thumb pulled the pin on the utility back’s season, has been named in the Tasman midfield alongside fellow Crusader Fetuli Paea.
The front row remains unchanged however experienced lock Alex Ainley has made way for Mahonri Ngakuru while openside flanker Jacob Norris has also been promoted from the bench to start in place of Sione Havili.
In the halves, Hunt partners up with Dwayne Polataivao, who’s taken the place of Finlay Christie.
All five replaced players, Ainley, Havili, Christie, Telea and Alex Nankivell, are absent from the match-day squad entirely.
Havili was one of the Crusaders’ most impressive performers throughout both Super Rugby and Super Rugby Aotearoa. During the Crusaders’ second round match with the Chiefs, the five-cap All Black was asked to cover flyhalf.
Havili’s injury partway through the Aotearoa season made it impossible for the 25-year-old to earn an All Blacks recall but with Ian Foster set to take a supersized squad to Australia for the Rugby Championship in November, he still has time to make a case for selection.
Tasman’s match with Northland kicks off at 7:05pm NZT on Friday evening.
Tasman: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Fetuli Paea, David Havili (c), Leicester Fainga’anuku, Mitch Hunt, Dwayne Polataivao, Hugh Renton, Jacob Norris, Shannon Frizell, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Mahonri Ngakuru, Tyrel Lomax, Andrew Makalio, Isi Tu’ungafasi.
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