Chance for Fotheringham to push claims as Stags lock

Ben Fotheringham
Ben Fotheringham
Young lock Ben Fotheringham will get an opportunity to further stake a claim when he starts for the Southland Stags in their final pre-season hitout against Northland in Auckland today.

Fotheringham was not initially included in the Stags squad for this year's Mitre 10 Cup. However, the Galbraith Shield-winning Marist lock has been part of the pre-season preparation.

He will start alongside Blues lock Ray Tatafu against Northland.

The Stags have recruited former New Zealand sevens player Isaac Te Tamaki to bolster their outside back stocks and he will start on the right wing in Auckland today.

Te Tamaki was a standout winger during his time at Hamilton Boys' High School, but it is in the shortened format where he has made his biggest mark in New Zealand rugby circles.

Te Tamaki has previously been contracted as part of the New Zealand sevens programme and he just missed selection to play at the 2016 Olympics.

Stags coach Dave Hewett said Te Tamaki had been brought into the squad to add some more ''X-factor'' to the Southland attack.

He joined the Stags in Invercargill last Wednesday and on Friday came off the bench in Southland's pre-season game against Otago in Alexandra.

The Stags were dealt a blow yesterday, when first five-eighth Greg Dyer picked up an injury which is expected to rule him out for six weeks. Dyer has been replaced by Pedro Bezanilla in the squad for today's game.

Southland opened its pre-season with a 34-7 win over North Otago and then showed improvement in the 38-35 loss against tougher opposition in Otago last week.

It has been in camp this week in Queenstown as a team-bonding exercise, as well as fine-tuning its game for the Mitre 10 Cup competition.

Hewett said the camp in Queenstown was also put in place for logistical purposes.

Players will travel to Auckland from Queenstown this morning and will return to Queenstown straight after the game against Northland.

Hewett expected a more definitive call this week on Brayden Mitchell's potential involvement in this year's cup campaign.

Last season's Stags captain missed the bulk of the club season because of a neck injury and has not featured in any of the pre-season games so far.

Hewett said team management was awaiting more information from a specialist.

That had opened the door for Blues hooker Jaya More to come into the squad.

Fellow hooker Flynn Thomas and veteran back James Wilson have shared the captaincy duties so far, although Hewett said a fulltime captain for the Mitre 10 Cup season was yet to be confirmed.

Southland will open its cup campaign against Hawke's Bay, in Invercargill on August 19.

Southland Stags

Tauasosi Tuimavave, Isaac Te Tamaki, Aleki Morris, James Wilson (co-capt), Jackson Ormond, Tayler Adams, Jay Renton, Tony Lamborn, Phil Halder, Wade McRae, Ray Tatafu, Ben Fotheringham, Morgan Mitchell, Flynn Thomas (co-capt), Joe Walsh. Reserves; Shaun Stodart, Chris Apoua, Jaya More, Reuben Northover, Brenton Howden, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jack Capil, Bill Fukofuka, Nico Costa, Pedro Bezanilla, Matt Johnson, Rory van Vugt.

- By Logan Savory

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