Lions squad named in RD5 Clash with Southland Stags

Heading into Wellington Lions Storm Week – Head Coach Leo Crowley has named his team to face Southland at Invercargill in round five of the Bunnings Warehouse NPC competition.

The front row remains unchanged – with Xavier Numia and former Wallaby Pekahou Cowan alongside Asafo Aumua.

With James Blackwell unavailable for selection through injury, Marist St Pats Josh To’omaga gets his first start at the lock, partnering Dominic Bird who is returning from injury.

“We are thrilled for Josh. He came off the bench last week and did a good job for us. He’s missed a significant part of the club’s season through injury, and getting back to the state he’s in is a credit to Josh’s work ethic. We are really looking forward to him bringing his skills against Southland who we know will be a combative side,” Crowley said.

Caleb Delany starts at six, and with captain Du’Plessis Kirifi out with a minor injury, youngster and newcomer Oriental-Rongotai’s Sione Halalilo makes his second openside start of the season. 19-year-old Peter Lakai completes the loose trio.

“Sione has another opportunity to start with Du’Plessis injured. He gained confidence in his first start against Canterbury. We know he learned a lot there and we look forward to him putting that knowledge into practice in the paddock,” Crowley said.

TJ Perenara retains his spot and will lead the team from halfback.

Aidan Morgan retains the 10 shirt and will seek midfield support in the form of Peter Umaga-Jensen and Billy Proctor.

The back three remain the same with Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder on the wings and Connor Garden-Bachop at the back.

On the bench – James O’Reilly, Solomona Sakalia and Siale Lauaki of Tawa occupy the front row. Rounding out the forward substitutions are Tawa’s Hugo Plummer and MSP’s Keelan Whitman, with Plummer set to make his debut. Richard Judd, Jackson Garden-Bacho and Ruben Love of Wainui will complete the 23rd day.

The Lions take on Southland, Saturday September 3, 4.35pm at Rugby Park, Invercargill. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

The Wellington Lions will face Southland:

1 Xavier Numia, Oriental-Rongotai

2 Asafo Aumua, Avalon

3 Pekahou Cowan, Petone

4 Dominic Bird, Upper Hutt Rams

5 Josh To’omaga, Marist St Pats

6 Caleb Delany, Old Boys University

7 Sione Halalilo, Oriental-Rongotai

8 Peter Lakai, Petone

9 TJ Perenara, North United (c)

10 Aidan Morgan, Marist St Pats

11 Nehe Milner-Skudder, Eastbourne

12 Peter Umaga-Jensen, Wainuiomata

13 Billy Proctor, Marist St Pats

14 Julien Savea, Oriental-Rongotai

15 Connor Garden-Bacho, North United

IMPACT

16 James O’Reilly, Hutt Old Boys Marist

17 Solomona Sakalia, North United

18 Siale Lauaki, Tawa

19 Hugo Plummer, Tawa *

20 Keelan Whitman, Marist St Pats

21 Richard Judd, Paremata-Plimmerton

22 Jackson Garden-Bacho, North United

23 Ruben Love, Wainuiomata

*Indicates beginnings

Not available for selection: Vince Sakaria, Tietie Tuimauga, Taine Plumtree, Connor Collins, Iona Apineru, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Pepesana Patafilo, James Blackwell

Charles P. Patton