Head coach Alama Ieremia has named a strong and experienced Auckland team to take on Otago in Dunedin this Saturday afternoon. Out of the 23 that Ieremia has named, 14 were involved in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, including six All Blacks.

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The midfield will have a familiar look for Auckland fans as TJ Faiane and Reiko Ioane start at 12 and 13 for Saturday’s contest. Faiane will captain the side from second-five.

Ioane has made himself at home in the midfield position, playing his Super Rugby season and North V South game in the 13 jersey. As Head Coach and a former All Blacks midfielder, Ieremia has been observing Ioane in the midfield.

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“He (Reiko) played well during the Super Rugby season. He still has room to improve, but definitely has the potential to be a world class centre” said Ieremia.

Grammar TEC teammates, Jack Whetton and Scott Scrafton will link up in the second row again this year after both coming off impressive campaigns with the Highlanders (Jack Whetton) and Hurricanes (Scott Scrafton). Scrafton will run out for his 30th appearance in the Blue and White Hoops.

Coach Ieremia is thankful for the short pre-season that the team has had to get ready for the Mitre 10 season.

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“Of course, it is exciting to have our All Blacks back in the team, but the rest of the players have responded well to the one pre-season fixture. Although rusty in parts, the team are excited to wear the Blue and White hoops for another campaign”.

Forsyth Barr will be closed to fans on Saturday afternoon as Dunedin remains in Alert Level 2 due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Kickoff is at 4:35pm.

Auckland: Jordan Trainor, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane (c), Caleb Clarke, Harry Plummer, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Adrian Choat, Akira Ioane, Jack Whetton, Scott Scrafton, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Leni Apisai, Alex Hodgman. Reserves: Mike Sosene-Feagai, Jarred Adams, Angus Ta’avao, Liam Hallam-Eames, Blake Gibson, Danny Tusitala, Simon Hickey, Tumua Manu.

– Auckland Rugby

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