Waikato have rung the changes in the wake of losing the Ranfurly Shield.
Head coach John Walters today named a side featuring nine changes, including six personnel and three positional, for Thursday's match against national champions Canterbury in Christchurch.
In the forward pack tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna and openside flanker Zak Hohneck come in for their first starts of the season in place of Paul Alo-Emile and Jack Lam respectively.
Lam is unavailable due to family reasons, while skipper and No8 Matt Vant Leven has been ruled out due to injury after just one game for Waikato this season and he is replaced by Adam Burn who started the opening national provincial championship game against Northland.
The Waikato backline has been completely revamped with halfback Kylem O'Donnell the only one to remain in the same position from the team that lost the shield to Otago last Friday night at Waikato Stadium.
Twenty-year-old first five-eighth Wharenui Hawera will start in the pivot position in place of Sam Christie who drops out of the match 22 completely, while Jackson Willison resumes the captaincy and moves from second-five to centre with Joe Perawiti to wear the No12 jersey for the first time this season.
Save Tokula moves from centre to wing and New Zealand Under-20 representative Joe Webber from the wing to fullback, while Semisi Masirewa gets his first ITM Cup start on the right wing in place of New Zealand Sevens star Tim Mikkelson.
On the bench Nick Ross is in line for his first game for Waikato in place of previous reserve lock Chris Middleton, while Mikkelson and fullback Trent Renata join him among the reserves.
Walters said it had been ''a bit of a tough week'' but they had to pick themselves up and go again with a long season ahead.
''We are hurting from last Friday but there is a lot of character and spirit in this team and we will move on,'' Walters said.
Waikato: Joe Webber, Semisi Masirewa, Jackson Willison (c), Joe Perawiti, Save Tokula, Wharenui Hawera, Kylem O'Donnell, Adam Burn, Zak Hohneck, Rory Grice, Sam Kilgour, Brian Alainu'uese, Ben Tameifuna, Brayden Mitchell, Toby Smith. Res: Vance Elliott, Paul Alo-Emile, Nick Ross, Jono Armstrong, Mick Snowden, Tim Mikkelson, Trent Renata.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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