Stags get start for NZ Maori against Leicester
Stags players Kade Poki and Elliot Dixon have both been named to start for New Zealand Maori against Leicester Tigers in the opening match of their three-game European tour.
Poki, who had a troubled 2012 provincial campaign mainly because of injury, will make his debut in the New Zealand Maori jersey starting on the left wing.
His former Highlanders team-mate Kurt Baker will start on the right wing, while his new Highlanders team-mate Declan O'Donnell will provide wing cover on the bench.
Dixon, 23, will start at No 8, giving him a prime opportunity to impress Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph, who is also the New Zealand Maori coach.
Dixon will form a strong looseforward trio with captain Tanerau Latimer on the openside flank and Shane Christie on the blindside.
Leicester have named a strong side.
Louis Deacon is back to captain the Tigers, while fellow internationals Mathew Tait, George Chuter, Jordan Crane, Geordan Murphy and Anthony Allen, if he isn't required by the England squad, are also in the 23.
The Tigers will wear lettered shirts that will also carry the Poppy Appeal logo.
The shirts will be auctioned online by the club to raise funds for the annual Royal British Legion Poppy appeal.
The game kicks off at 8.35am today (NZ time).
NZ Maori: Andre Taylor, Kurt Baker, Charlie Ngatai, Tim Bateman, Kade Poki, Willie Ripia, Frae Wilson, Elliot Dixon, Tanerau Latimer (capt), Shane Christie, Jason Eaton, Jarrad Hoeata, Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Ben May. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Jacob Ellison, Bronson Murray, Romana Graham, Nick Crosswell, Jamieson Gibson-Park, Jackson Willison, Declan O'Donnell.
Leicester Tigers: Mathew Tait, Niall Morris, Matt Smith, Anthony Allen, Adam Thompstone, George Ford, Patrick Phibbs, Julian Salvi, Jordan Crane, Ed Slater, Graham Kitchener, Louis Deacon (capt), Fraser Balmain, George Chuter, Boris Stankovich. Reserves: Jonny Harris, Jimmy Stevens, Kieran Brookes, Michael Noone, Richard Thorpe, Sam Harrison, Dan Bowden, Geordan Murphy.
- The Southland Times