aucklandrugby.co.nz and James Mortimer 17.Oct.2013Getty Images
Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made five changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s ITM Cup Premiership semi-final against Canterbury at AMI Stadium in Christchurch (kick-off 2.05pm).
Luke Braid and Vince Aso made successful returns from injury off the bench against Otago last week and have been promoted to the starting XV, while props Sam Prattley and Angus Ta’avao replace Pauliasi Manu and Ofa Tu’ungafasi respectively.
Sean Brookman will make his first start of the season at lock ahead of Jack Whetton, with impressive Auckland under-20 lock William Lloyd is poised to make his provincial debut after being named on the bench.
Auckland head into Saturday’s match on the back of two disappointing losses to Wellington and Otago, however Pivac said the team had cast that aside and were focussing on one game of knockout rugby.
“We’ve put that to bed, obviously the round robin is about gaining enough points to be in the play-offs and we’ve achieved that so our focus is on a one-off 80 minute game of rugby,” Pivac said.
“We need to adjust the mindset in terms of winning at all costs, whether it’s a win by 1 point or 10 points it doesn’t matter, it’s just about winning a game of rugby.”
Pivac said his team had revisited their impressive 39-19 victory over Canterbury at Eden Park in round seven during the week to remind themselves of how well they could play, and said it came down to getting the attitude right.
“We’re well aware of how well we can play and we have reverted back to that game (against Canterbury) earlier in the week but we also has a good look at the Wellington and Otago performances and looked at how poor we can be at times, so really it’s about attitude.
“It’s about preparation and individuals taking ownership and making sure that when they front up on Saturday they know their roles inside out and they apply themselves, it’s as simple as that really.”
However Pivac conceded Canterbury would pose a far greater challenge on their home turf as they endeavour to make it a record six successive titles.
“It’s a Canterbury team playing at home and it’s a Canterbury team in the play-offs defending the title they’ve won for the last five years. They know all about playoffs footy, they’ve got a lot of experience, they’ve got a lot of key players playing well so it’s going to be a big game for us.”
The Auckland team to face Canterbury at AMI Stadium on Saturday afternoon is:
15. Lolagi Visinia (Suburbs)
14. Vince Aso (Ponsonby)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Pakuranga)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (C) (Grammar Carlton)
11. George Moala (Grammar Carlton)
10. Simon Hickey (Grammar Carlton)
9. Wayne Ngaluafe (Ponsonby)
8. Peter Saili (Marist)
7. Luke Braid (University)
6. Sean Polwart (University)
5. Sean Brookman (University)
4. Liaki Moli (Manukau)
3. Angus Ta’avao (Marist)
2. Tom McCartney (Pakuranga)
1. Sam Prattley (Pakuranga)
16. Nathan Vella (Grammar Carlton)
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar Carlton)
18. Kara Pryor (Grammar Carlton)
19. Jack Whetton (Grammar Carlton)
20. William Lloyd (Marist)
21. Junior Poluleuligaga (Papatoetoe)
22. Tenina Sauileoge (Papatoetoe)