Fijian is now Stags' first-choice hooker

Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014

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Talemaitoga Tuapati will slot into Southland's No 2 jersey tonight against North Harbour, replacing the injured Jason Rutledge.

The Stags were delivered a big blow when Rutledge was ruled out of the remainder of the 2014 national provincial season when he ruptured his left bicep while making a tackle in the round one game against Bay of Plenty on Friday night. He later underwent surgery.

The same injury ruled Rutledge's fellow veteran hooker, David Hall, out of the campaign.

Thankfully for the Stags management, there is plenty of depth in the hooker position in the province.

Tuapati has played 15 games for Southland during the past two seasons but just four in a starting role. The Fijian international now has the chance to make the hooking role his own in 2014.

Twenty-year-old Dillan Halaholo is the back-up hooker.

Young Blues hooker Malo Magele will now come into contention if there are any further injuries.

There is one further forced change from the Stags team which took to the field in week one.

Wing Qtulea Katoa has been ruled out with an injury which has prompted a shift from centre for Mark Jackman to the left wing tonight.

That has resulted in a change in the midfield with Willis Halaholo moving from the bench to start at second five-eighth, and Cardiff Vaega has moved out one spot to centre.

The two were a good combination in 2014 and Halaholo impressed when he came off the bench in the win over Bay of Plenty.

logan.savory@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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