Stags sticking with strong side

Southland Players celebrate their win against Hawke’s Bay in a Mitre 10 Cup match at Rugby Park...
Southland Players celebrate their win against Hawke’s Bay last weekend. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Just a handful of swapsies for Southland this week.

Stags coach Dale MacLeod has made a few tweaks to the starting XV for the game against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua on Sunday.

But he has stuck with the same squad which delivered an upset 16-10 win against Hawke’s Bay in Invercargill on Sunday.

In the well-performing pack, prop Joe Walsh replaces Ethan de Groot at loosehead.

Hardworking lock Mike McKee drops to the bench to make room for Ray Tatafu, and Glenn Preston gets his first start for Southland which means blindside Charles Alaimalo moves into the reserves.

There is just the one change in the backs. Halfbacks Logan Crowley and Raniera Takarangi are switching roles. Takarangi will start this time.

The Stags broke a 27-game losing streak in the Mitre 10 Cup last season and have started the 2020 campaign well.

"We are not in the competition just to participate," MacLeod said.

"We’ve got to back up our talk and it will be really important to do that this week."

The changes this week were always part of the grand plan.

"We are trying to create a different mindset. We know if we want to reach the goals that we’ve set then we’ve got to have a group where there is competition in the squad."

Southland will continue to make changes during the first four weeks of the competition to build depth and give people opportunities to show what they are capable of achieving.

"We have a plan in place of how we grow our depth and create that competition in the squad and this is the first part of that, really."

Southland has had a couple of wet training sessions this week. It hailed on Tuesday and the water was ankle deep on Thursday.

Midfielder Ray Nu’u was ill last week but will start from the bench.

"If we had had a full week’s prep [he may have started] but it is best for him to come off the bench and get his energy levels back to where they need to be."

The win against Hawke’s Bay has lifted some pressure but the match against Bay of Plenty will present "tough opposition".

"They are full of Super players and All Blacks and it just does not get any easier for us.

"But I was really proud of the effort against Hawke’s Bay."

MacLeod felt first-five Scott Eade had an impressive game. He cleared well and directed the team nicely.

The leadership group of Tony Lamborn and Ethan de Groot stood out and lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit carried and defended well.

Southland to play Bay of Plenty

Josh Moorby, Rory van Vugt,  Isaac Te Tamaki, Jaye Thompson, Amanaki Nicole, Scott Eade, Raniera Takarangi, Tony Lamborn, Matt James, Glenn Preston, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Ray Tatafu, Siate Tokolahi, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Joe Walsh. Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Ethan de Groot, Chris Apoua, Mike McKee, Charles Alaimalo, Logan Crowley, Greg Dyer, Ray Nu’u.

 

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