Whitelocks on either side of Cantabs scrum
Canterbury coach Tabai Matson is sticking largely with the tried-and-true as his side enter the middle leg of their three-match week tonight against Hawke's Bay.
Matson yesterday tweaked the side which thumped Northland on Friday for tonight's match against Hawke's Bay.
Flanker Matt Todd has been relegated to the bench, captain George Whitelock shifts to the openside while his younger brother Luke slots in at No 6.
"Matt has played a lot of rugby this year and has been amazing, so we see this game as a chance to let him recharge the batteries," Matson said.
"George has played at No 7 for the All Blacks, so he is no stranger to the position and, early on in his career, it was probably his first choice place to play.
"So we certainly don't lose anything by the change."
Despite a spot in next week's semifinals all but assured, Canterbury remain focused on closing out the round robin without mishap.
"Obviously our main goal is a home semifinal. You have a little bit of an advantage if you are playing at home but it's not our focus at the moment.
"We just want to string together two more really good games and then we can take things from there."
In Hawke's Bay, Canterbury can expect a side playing with plenty of passion and determination but may also face a side who have one eye on a Ranfurly Shield encounter with Waikato later in the week.
"We have had some really epic encounters with Hawke's Bay over the last few years. They are a team who are now battling relegation and also playing for pride and it's their last game at home for the season.
"So we expect them to be really tough.
"Their backline is really exceptional and they have a lot of players who have been real stars at different levels so it is going to be a good test for our guys."
Matson has continued his rotational policy at both halfback and hooker with Codie Taylor and Willi Heinz starting tonight ahead of Andy Ellis and Ben Funnell and the only other change in the side from Friday night is Luke Katene's inclusion at lock with Joel Everson moving to the bench.
The Steelers were meant to win against the Tasman Makos on their home ground in Pukekohe last night and atone for last Saturday's last minute 32-28 loss to Waikato.
But Tasman displayed even more resolve to grind out their fifth win of the season and keep alive their hopes of a home semifinal.
Tasman's enterprise, an effective scrum and powerful ball carries by No 8 Jordan Taufua helped the visitors to their win.
Canterbury: Johnny McNicholl, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Tom Taylor, Telusa Veainu, Tyler Bleyendaal, Willi Heinz, Nasi Manu, George Whitelock (c), Luke Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Luke Katene, Paea Fa'anunu, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett. Res: Ben Funnell, Andrew Olorenshaw, Joel Everson, Matt Todd, Andy Ellis, Kolio Hifo, Stephen Gee.
- The Press
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