Faumuina bracketed for Auckland

Getty Images     23 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Faumuina has been released for the match but has to get through a training session with the All Blacks today before he is fully cleared to join the Auckland team.

With Hawke’s Bay boasting a powerful scrum spearheaded by prop Ben Tameifuna and hooker Hika Elliot, Faumuina’s inclusion would be a huge boost for Auckland.

Should Faumuina start, Auckland will field a team featuring 14 Super Rugby players, with centre Malakai Fekitoa the only player not to have pulled on the Blues jersey.

20-year-old Fekitoa will make his Auckland debut, and despite earning a cap for the Blues earlier this year, wing Ben Lam will also make his first provincial appearance.

On the bench, New Zealand Under-20 prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi, hooker Nathan Vella and first five-eighths Tony Fennerare also poised to make their Auckland debuts.

Auckland head coach WaynePivac was thrilled he had a full complement of players to select from ahead of their first match of the season.

“A couple of weeks ago it wasn’t that flash with injuries and guys coming back from the break a little bit sluggish but certainly over the last 10 days or so things have come together nicely,” Pivac said.

“The medical team have done a really good job and having that full squad to choose from hasn’t probably happened to us for a while so we’re very pleased.”

Auckland face an arduous start to their 2012 ITM Cup campaign with consecutive away games against Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury, and Pivac said it was crucial for his side to hit the ground running.

"It’s a tricky first 10 days really with Hawke’s Bay away who are obviously a very good side and then defending champions Canterbury on the Wednesday,” he said.

“If we can get through those first two weeks it will set ourselves up really well, but if we don’t then we’ll be chasing the pack so it’s very important that we get a good start.”

The Auckland team to face Hawke’s Bay at McLean Park, Napier on Thursday night (kick-off 7.35pm) is:

1. Pauliasi Manu (University)
2. Tom McCartney (Pakuranga)
3. Charlie Faumuina (Papatoetoe) / Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar Carlton)
4. Liaki Moli (Manukau)
5. Andrew Van der Heijden (University)
6. Steven Luatua (University)
7. Daniel Braid (University)
8. Peter Saili (Marist)
9. Alby Mathewson (Grammar Carlton)
10. Gareth Anscombe (Ponsonby)
11. George Moala (Grammar Carlton)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (Grammar Carlton)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Pakuranga)
14. Ben Lam (Grammar Carlton)
15. Charles Piutau (Pakuranga)

16. Nathan Vella (Grammar Carlton)
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar Carlton)/ Angus Ta’avao (Marist)
18. Nathan Hughes (Suburbs)
19. Sean Polwart (University)
20. Auvasa Faleali’i (Marist)
21. Tony Fenner (Pakuranga)
22. Dave Thomas (Grammar Carlton)