Big guns called to the front line
Coach Colin Cooper is taking no chances against Meads Cup winners Wanganui for Taranaki's third defence of the Ranfurly Shield, calling in a host of frontline players for tomorrow's match.
Cooper has made nine changes to the side that started against King Country.
Heading the list is former All Black Jarrad Hoeata, who comes in on the side of the scrum, while there are also starts for fellow Super Rugby players Michael Bent, Jayden Hayward and Kurt Baker.
Tenderlink Taranaki trained last night, with Cooper only finalising his starting XV after they had finished.
Chris Walker has all but recovered from an ankle injury he suffered in Tukapa's semifinal loss to New Plymouth Old Boys and has been bracketed on the bench with Mitchell Brown, giving Berny Hall a start at openside.
There was some conjecture that flanker Scott Waldrom, who was not included in the Chiefs squad for tomorrow night's Super Rugby final against the Sharks, would play but he has not been included.
Despite Taranaki cruising to a 67-16 win over King Country, Cooper and his coaching staff expect Wanganui to provide a much sterner test, hence the changes.
As well as the Shield being at stake, a number of players also get the opportunity to push their claims for inclusion in Taranaki's ITM Cup squad with pre-season matches against Waikato and Counties-Manukau to come before the national championship starts later this month.
With doubts over Shane Cleaver's short-term future because of continuing concussion issues, Sione Lea gets a chance to impress at loosehead prop.
One player who has satisfied the medical staff he has recovered from the sickening head knock he took in club rugby is Frazier Climo, who will start on the left wing.
Former Tasman first five-eighth James Marshall takes over the No 10 jersey from Jack Cameron, despite the experienced pivot scoring 27 points against King Country in a near flawless kicking display.
Marshall started at fullback against King Country and will combine with halfback Jamison Gibson-Park, who relegates Kylem O'Donnell to the bench.
In another positional switch, Kane Barrett moves from the side of the scrum into lock to partner Leighton Price in the second row.
Hurricanes wider training group member Jackson Ormond should get his first game of the year, at any level, after being cleared to play following shoulder surgery he underwent in February. He has been named on the bench.
HOW THEY LINE UP
Taranaki team to play Wanganui in a Ranfurly Shield match at Yarrow Stadium tomorrow.
TARANAKI: Kurt Baker, Waisake Naholo, Willie Rickards (captain), Jayden Hayward, Frazier Climo, James Marshall, Jamison Gibson-Park, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Berny Hall, Jarrad Hoeata, Leighton Price, Kane Barrett, Michael Bent, Laurence Corlett, Sione Lea. Reserves, Timo Tutavaha, Carl Carmichael, Nemia Soqeta, Chris Walker or Mitchell Brown, Kylem O'Donnell, Jack Cameron, Jackson Ormond
Taranaki Daily News