Brad Shields Lions team names for Canterwill return to his natural position of blindside flanker for Wellington’s top of the table NPC match with Canterbury at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Shields reunites with captain and No 8 Victor Vito and openside Ardie Savea after playing at lock in the Lions last match against Bay of Plenty.
The Lions gain some relief in the second row with the return of lock Mark Reddish to the starting side.
Reddish will partner Kaipati Gaualofa in the second row but there will be no specialist back up with loose forwards Genesis Mamea and Adam Hill providing cover from the reserves.
The loose forwards will be a key area against a Canterbury side bolstered by the availability of All Blacks openside Matt Todd.
NPC premiership leaders Wellington are well rested after a nine day break between matches, but still struggling with a heavy injury count.
Tongan international Tomasi Palu takes over at halfback from Frae Wilson, who suffered a season ending knee injury during Wellington’s 33-16 win over Bay of Plenty.
Upper Hutt’s Kayne Hammington will cover halfback from the bench with Wainuiomata utility back Tau Mamea also called into the squad.
Charlie Ngatai has been named at fullback despite a fractured finger and Tim Bateman, who is struggling with a calf injury, will take his place at centre.
Lions coach Chris Boyd said this week he’d give the pair until match day to prove their fitness.
Canterbury are expected to name a powerful side for the match with Todd set to be joined in the starting line up by hooker Corey Flynn, halfback Andy Ellis and fullback Colin Slade.
The match kicks off at 5.35pm.
Wellington: Charlie Ngatai, Ambrose Curtis, Tim Bateman, Shaun Treeby, Joe Hill, Lima Sopoaga, Tomasi Palu, Victor Vito (c), Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Kaipati Gaualofa, Mark Reddish, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Motu Matu’u, John Schwalger. Reserves: Reg Goodes, Eric Sione, Genesis Mamea, Adam Hill, Kayne Hammington, Tau Mamea, Afa Fa’atau. Canterbury: TBA
- © Fairfax NZ News
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