Stags make two changes for Taranaki clash
Elliot Dixon and Tim Cornforth are back in the Southland run-on side for their round three NPC game against Taranaki tomorrow night.
Dixon replaces Hale T-Pole, who was impressive in the loss against Northland last weekend, at No 8 with the Tongan international moving to the bench.
Cornforth comes back into the team on the left wing as Marty McKenzie moves to the reserves.
Stags coach David Henderson said T-Pole's demotion was not about form.
"He hasn't been dropped or anything, I've just got good loose forwards and I need to use them wisely," Henderson said.
"Hale has played the first four or five games, all 80 minutes, with regards to preseason and so forth.
"[We will] get a bit more time into Tim Boys and Elliot is back to. [Hale] can cover lock and loose forward from the bench."
McKenzie is having a disruptive start to the NPC as the Stags try to fit all their best players into one backline.
Since he started the first game at fullback, he has played on the wing and now off the bench.
He's likely to see some game time at first five against Taranaki.
"We've tried him on the wing and I'm not sure if that's a suitable position so we've put him in the reserves and depending on how the game goes he might get on at 10," Henderson said.
Despite an 0-2 start to the season, and 160 tryless minutes, the mood in the Southland camp was positive, Henderson said.
"From our perspective, we aren't panicking about the results.
"The boys have been pretty positive that we are creating opportunities but just not finishing them," he said.
"I guess our focus is on making sure that some of the reasons why we aren't finishing are being addressed.
"Hopefully we can improve on that at the weekend."
Colin Cooper's Taranaki team is missing the likes of skipper Craig Clarke, Michael Bent, Jason Eaton, Laurence Corlett and the injured Chris King from last season.
They have had a tough start to the season with losses to Canterbury and Wellington. They are the only winless team in the premiership after two rounds.
Henderson said there were similarities between the teams.
"They are a team that has had a lot of changes after winning the shield last year.
"They just aren't connecting at the moment - probably similar to us," he said.
"They are a good team, big forwards and backs out wide who can punish you if they get the ball.
"We are expecting them to be a lot [better] from their first two games and desperate for a win against us."
Southland: Robbie Robinson, Gareth Williams-Spiers, Bryan Milne, Cardiff Vaega, Tim Cornforth, Scott Eade, Tayler Adams, Elliot Dixon, Tim Boys, John Hardie, Michael Fatialofa, Josh Bekhuis, Nick Barrett, David Hall, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Talemaitoga Tuapati, Tuki Raimona, Hale T-Pole, Naulia Dawai, Nemia Kenatale, Willis Halaholo, Marty McKenzie.
Taranaki: Kurt Baker, Jackson Ormond, Andre Taylor, Isaia Tuifua, Waisake Naholo, Daniel Brooks, Chris Smylie, Blade Thomson, Berny Hall, Kane Barrett (captain), James Broadhurst, Jarrad Hoeata, Shane Cleaver, Rhys Marshall, Carl Carmichael. Reserves: Timo Tutavaha, Sione Lea, Nemia Soqeta, Mitchell Crosswell, Jamison Gibson-Park, Rick McKenna, Seta Tamanivalu.
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