While Jordie Barrett was always a likely inclusion for his first-ever match for Taranki in their opening Mitre 10 Cup derby, his brother Beauden’s inclusion comes as more of a surprise.

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Beauden was not named as one of the All Blacks who would likely be suiting up for provincial duties when New Zealand Rugby released a list earlier this week, prompting fears that the playmaker may be injured, but his addition to the lineup has derailed that train of thought and means that Taranaki can field an exceptional team for their match with Bay of Plenty.

New All Black Tupou Vaa’i has also been included in a 23 which boasts plenty of Super Rugby experience.

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Up front, coach Willie Rickards has opted for Jared Proffit, Ricky Riccitelli and recent recruit Ben May while Vaa’i will partner Josh Lord in the second row. Vaa’i and Lord would likely both have made the New Zealand Under 20 side this year had their season not been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The loose forward trio of Mitch Brown, Lachlan Boshier and Mitchell Crosswell boasts almost 100 caps of Mitre 10 Cup experience and should provide the Bulls with ample possession.

Beauden Barrett links up with Chief Lisati Milo-Harris in the halves while Super Rugby starters Teihorangi Walden and Sean Wainui will combine in the midfield.

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Out wide, speedsters Lewis Ormond and Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens are both threatening ball runners with the latter only graduating High School last year. Jordie Barrett will start the match with 15 on his back.

The Super Rugby trio of Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill and Donald Brighouse will add experience off the bench while the likes of Tom Florence and Kaylum Boshier are exceptionally talented loose forwards coming through the ranks.

The match kicks off from Taranaki’s new home for the season, Inglewood, at 2:00pm NZT on Sunday.

Taranaki: Jordie Barrett, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Sean Wainui, Teihorangi Walden, Lewis Ormond, Beauden Barrett, Lisati Milo-Harris, Mitchell Crosswell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Tupou Vaa’i, Josh Lord, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Jared Proffit. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill, Donald Brighouse, Tom Florence, Kaylum Boshier, Warwick Lahmert, Jayson Potroz, Cody Rei.

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