Waikato will travel back down south this weekend to face Southland Stags at Rugby Park, Invercargill, in week 4 of the Mitre 10 Cup on Sunday afternoon.

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Waikato head coach, Andrew Strawbridge, has made several changes to his matchday 23.

There are two changes to the tight five, Rob Cobb and James Thompson have been elevated from the bench to start at loosehead prop and lock, respectively. Cobb and Thompson inclusion to the starting XV has, Ollie Norris and Hamilton Burr, moving to the reserve for this match.

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The Aotearoa Rugby Pod panel with James Parsons and Bryn Hall discuss what to expect from this All Blacks side heading into The Rugby Championship in the midst of a disrupted 2020 season coming off the back of a World Cup loss.

Waikato captain, Luke Jacobson, switches back to number 8 making room for brother Mitch to start in his preferred position of openside flanker.

In the backs, there is a new halves combination of halfback, Cortez Ratima, and flyhalf, Rivez Reihana. Regular starters, Xavier Roe and Fletcher Smith move to the reserves for this week.

Bailyn Sullivan, moves into the midfield to start at outside centre combining with Louis Rogers to make up this week’s centre’s pairing. Sullivan’s shift to the midfield sees, Valynce Te Whare, being named to start on the right wing. Te Whare has earned his first start of the season after a couple of impressive performances from the bench in recent weeks.

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Finally, in the reserves, the only notable changes have been the inclusion of Liam Messam and Matty Lansdown. Both players have a chance to play their first games for Waikato in this year’s campaign via the bench.

Waikato take on Southland at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Sunday afternoon, kick-off is at 2.05pm:

Waikato: Liam Coombes-Fabling, Valynce Te Whare, Bailyn Sullivan, Louis Rogers, Patrick Osborne, Rivez Reihana, Cortez Ratima, Luke Jacobson (c), Mitch Jacobson, Adam Thomson, Samipeni Finau, James Thompson, Sefo Kautai, Samison Taukei’aho, Robb Cobb. Reserves: Steven Misa, Ollie Norris, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Hamilton Burr, Liam Messam, Xavier Roe, Fletche Smith, Matty Lansdown.

– Waikato Rugby

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