At number eight, Jon Dampney returns from injury to take on the role of captain again, a year after captaining the side in a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Counties-Manukau, where the men in green and gold showed that they had what it took to stick it with the top tier teams for most of the match.
He leads a team boasting a mix of youth and experience, with Tama Tuirirangi’s 17 years of senior rugby and two previous shield challenges leading the way in the front row, while at first-five, former Japanese international, now Auckland based, Murray Williams returns to steer the ship.
The backline features a couple of young stars in former Ashburton College players Nete Caucau at second-five and Seta Koroitamana on the wing, while Rakaia captain Andrew Letham is at fullback and his Hawke’s Bay opposite is a familiar face to most New Zealand rugby fans, in former All Black Zac Guildford.
Lock Adaam Ross is a former age group national representative, while in the loose, Scott Vessey is having his second crack at the prestigious Ranfurly Shield – his first came while playing for Northland, against then-holders Waikato.
There are some names missing, including Methven’s Brenton Connell and Christchurch based loan player Sam Franklin (both injured), while former Methven man Matt Thatcher will also miss the game as his Christchurch club side is preparing for their club final.
The Mid Canterbury team is: Viliame Finau, Jackson Donlan, Tama Tuirirangi, Adaam Ross, Maikeli Mudu, Scott Vessey, Tevita Ula, Jon Dampney (C), Mavae Tomasi, Murray Williams, Seta Koroitamana, Nete Caucau, Tuamoheloa Fa’aitu, Dwayne Burrows, Andrew Letham. Reserves: James Annabel, Mark Andrew, Simon Fleetwood, Eric Duff, Tyler Koning, Will Mackenzie, Andy Hamilton, Ewan Scott.
The Hawke’s Bay team is: Jason Long, Ricky Riccitelli, Mark Braidwood, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Mark Abbott, Tony Lamborn, Brendon O’Connor (C), Joseph Penitito, Chris Eaton, Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald, Shannan Chase, Billy Ropiha, Jonah Lowe, Mason Emerson, Zac Guildford. Reserves: Jorian Tangaere, Mason Kean, Jarvy Aoake, Sanaila Waqa, Tom Stanley, Ellery Wilson, Ihaia West, Ryan Tongia.
– By Erin Tasker http://www.guardianonline.co.nz/