Headlining the alterations is promising rookie wing Freedom Vahaakolo, who comes into the starting side following Otago’s 38-6 drubbing at the hands of Auckland in last weekend’s opening round.
The 23-year-old made his provincial debut off the bench in that match, but has been handed a chance to prove his worth with the run-on side after being named to start on the right wing by head coach Tom Donnelly.
Those within Otago rugby circles have spoken highly of the sizeable speedster after he impressed in local club rugby with the Dunedin club following a move south from Auckland side Ponsonby earlier this year.
A former Auckland age-grade and sevens representative, Vahaakolo brings with him a reputation of churning out tries, scoring six in his first five games for Dunedin this year, and 21 for Ponsonby last season.
Timu fills the void left by the suspended Sio Tomkinson in the No. 22 jersey, and will be joined in the reserves by young Southland recruit Sean Withy, who is in line for his first-class debut.
In the forwards, Crusaders prop George Bower, who was part of the South Island team that won the North v South clash earlier this month, is a straight swap for ex-New Zealand Schools front rower Jonah Aiona.
The only other change comes at lock, with Canterbury loanee Will Tucker replacing New Zealand Maori U20 and New Zealand Universities starlet Josh Hill to partner up with former Ulster and Ireland U20 representative Jack Regan in the second row.
Otago team to play Manawatu:
1. George Bower, 2. Liam Coltman, 3. Josh Hohneck, 4. Jack Regan, 5. Will Tucker, 6. Charles Elton, 7. Slade McDowall, 8. Dylan Nel, 9. Kayne Hammington, 10. Josh Ioane, 11. Jona Nareki, 12. Aleki Morris-Lome, 13. Michael Collins (c), 14. Freedom Vahaakolo, 15. Vilimoni Koroi.
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