Tasman co-coaches Andrew Goodman and Clarke Dermody have wasted no time injecting their off-season recruits straight into the action for the opening round of the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup, with Sevu Reece and Mark Telea set to start on the wings on Saturday evening.
Newly selected All Black Will Jordan will round out a deadly back three in a backline that’s comprised exclusively of players that featured in the recent North v South match.
Experienced Mako Finlay Christie and Mitch Hunt will combine in the halves while vice-captain Alex Nankivell partners up with Leicester Fainga’anuku, who continues his move from the outside backs into the midfield.
Despite the obvious strength of the backs, there’s ample talent in the pack too. Isi Tu’ungafasi, Andrew Makalio and Tyrel Lomax form a mighty front row while the returning Alex Ainley links up with relative rookie Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta in the locks.
All Black Shannon Frizell, off the back of an impressive season with the Highlanders packs down on the blindside flank while Crusader Sione Havili will be tasked with the fetching duties. That leaves former Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay representative, who will operate from the back of the scrum.
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All in all, the Mako will field 14 players in their starting lineup who’ve played Super Rugby, with 13 of those men featuring in the most recent season.
On the bench, Quentin MacDonald makes a return in the No. 16 jersey while new Highlander Fetuli Paea will cover the outside backs.
Tasman travel up to Counties Manukau for the opening game of the season and will look to get the most out of All Blacks Jordan, Reece, Frizell and Lomax before their pulled from the competition for international duties.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:05 pm NZT.
Tasman: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Alex Nankivell, Mark Telea, Mitch Hunt (c), Finlay Christie, Hugh Renton, Sione Havili, Shannon Frizell, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Alex Ainley, Tyrel Lomax, Andrew Makalio, Isi Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Isaac Salmon, Moni Ngakuru, Jacob Norris, Dwayne Polataivao, Tim O’Malley, Fetuli Paea.
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