Running out in a Mitre 10 Cup for Waikato while wearing the captain’s armband has been a long time coming for Luke Jacobson.

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The 23-year-old loose forward was named season captain of the 2018 squad but injury kept the All Black from taking park. Last year, having returned early from the World Cup in Japan due to concussion, Jacobson also sat out the majority of the provincial competition.

On Saturday in what should be an entertaining encounter with Wellington, Jacobson will captain Waikato while wearing the number 8 jersey. He’ll be joined by his older brother Mitch and experienced stalwart Adam Thomson.

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Up front, Ollie Norris, Samisoni Takei’aho and Sefo Kautai make up a powerful front row. Hamilton Burr and Samipeni Finau, who are equally as comfortable in the loose forwards, will provide plenty of mobility in the locks.

In the backs, former Taranaki representative Xavier Roe will make his Mooloo’s debut, combining with Fletcher Smith in the halves. The exciting Super Rugby midfield combination of Anton Lienert-Brown and Quinn Tupaea will continue to excel at a provincial level.

Patrick Osborne has been named on the left wing and will make his Waikato debut joining Bailyn Sullivan and Damian McKenzie to make up an electrifying outside back trio.

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All Blacks Lienert-Brown and McKenzie last featured for Waikato in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

In the reserves, Steven Misa, returns to Waikato for the first time since 2016 and has a chance to add to his eleven Waikato caps.

Rob Cobb, who earned minutes with the Chiefs late in the Super Rugby Aotearoa season, will wear the number 17 jersey and Highlander Josh Iosefa-Scott will also provide prop cover. The Hautapu duo of James Thompson and Simon Parker will cover the locks and loose forwards respectively and Rivez Reihana will likely slot in at first five or fullback late in the piece.

Finally, Otorohanga halfback, Cortez Ratima, and Fraser Tech utility back, Liam Coombes-Fabling will both have a chance to debut for the province via the bench.

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Waikato: Damian McKenzie, Bailyn Sullivan, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Patrick Osborne, Fletcher Smith, Xavier Roe, Luke Jacobson (c), Mitch Jacobson, Adam Thomson, Samipeni Finau, Hamilton Burr, Sefo Kautai, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ollie Norris. Reserves: Steven Misa, Robb Cobb, Josh Iosefa-Scott, James Thompson, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Rivez Reihana, Liam Coombes-Fabling.

– with Waikato Rugby

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