Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has named an impressively experienced rugby side, naming Manu Samoa international and Crusaders front rowers, Michael Alaalatoa as captain.
The team is:
1: Daniel Lienert-Brown 2: Leni Apisai 3: Michael Alaalatoa (C) 4: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti 5: Naitoa Ah Kuoi 6: Peseta Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 7: Alamanda Motuga 8: Pita-Gus Sowakula 9: Folau Fakatava 10: Josh Ioane 11: Salesi Rayasi 12: Vince Aso 13: Fetuli Paea 14: Leicester Fainga’anuku 15: Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: Samisoni Taukie'aho, Jordan Lay, Sione Mafileo, Samipeni Finau, Tavake Manu, Dwayne Polataivao, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Taimalelagi Etene Nanai-Seturo
Halfback Folau Fakatava helped Hawke’s Bay secure a Championship Final last Friday, while Auckland’s Leni Apisai and Salesi Rayasi are now in the same side as Tasman champions – Dwayne Polataivao, Leicester Faingaanuku, Fetuli Paea - who edged them out of Saturday’s epic Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final title.
Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga said the squad had had a good preparation week and they were pleased to have a strong squad from which to select.
“We think we have picked a team that can do the job, but the reality is that we picked from a strong squad, and we know every player chose to be here, and that’s a big deal.
“We have a total 66 international test caps in the side – these guys know how to play rugby, so our focus this week has been on our purpose as a group.
“This is a really special match, and it’s been a very special week. We’ve really enjoyed being able to come together with common cultures, common stories, and rugby.
“We’re really pleased to name Michael (Alaalatoa) as our captain. On the field, Mike works hard on his rugby, and he works hard for any team he’s in. He’s a quiet, but formidable figure for the Crusaders and a stalwart for Manawatu. Mike is someone who is a Pasifika man at the heart of him, and I know he and his family were very proud when he was selected for Samoa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan last year.”