Athletic loose forward Vaea Fifita will make his first appearance for the Wellington Lions on Sunday when they meet defending Mitre 10 Cup champions Auckland at Eden Park.


Fifita suffered a minor knee injury after he was released from the All Blacks but has recovered fully and will start at No 8.

He is one of only two changes to the starting side which helped the Lions to a 54-24 win over Otago last round with the other being at first five-eighth where Jackson Garden-Bachop returns after being on the bench last Sunday.

Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes has made four changes to the bench which features a potential debutant in Northern United halfback Campbell Woodmass who has replaced Connor Collins after he was ruled out with injury.

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Gibbes was more than happy with the first 60 minutes against Otago and the improvements they had made in some areas.

“That’s one of the reasons why we have made minimal changes,” he said.


“We are starting to work really well together and we are building some real depth in our squad. It’s great to welcome Vaea back into the mix and he has the potential to be really influential.

“It’s tough on Teariki Ben-Nicholas who has been in really good form but we know he will provide us with some real energy off the bench, along with a number of other players, against a quality Auckland side.”

Kick-off is 2.05pm.

The Wellington Lions squad to meet Auckland is:


15 Billy Proctor (Marist St Pats)
14 Wes Goosen (Old Boys University)
13 Vince Aso (Paremata-Plimmerton)
12 Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wainuiomata)
11 Ben Lam (Tawa)
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Northern United)
9 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
8 Vaea Fifita (Wellington)
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi (Northern United) (c)
6 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone)
5 James Blackwell (Petone)
4 Josh Furno (Western Suburbs)
3 Alex Fidow (Oriental-Rongotai)
2 Asafo Aumua (Avalon)
1 Xavier Numia (Oriental-Rongotai)


16 James O’Reilly (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
17 Sitiveni Paongo (Tawa)
18 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa (Petone)
19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Marist St Pats)
20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Old Boys University)
21 Campbell Woodmass (Northern United)
22 Trent Renata (Oriental-Rongotai)
23 Pepesana Patafilo (Tawa)

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