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The Otago Spirit will get a severe examination of its ability when it takes on the Wellington Pride in Porirua today.
The Spirit has won its opening two games against North Harbour and Hawke’s Bay.
But Wellington is a different kettle of fish. The Pride opened its season with a disappointing loss to Hawke’s Bay but came back well to beat high-flying Canterbury 43-38 last Saturday. Wellington has Black Ferns who did not play against Hawke’s Bay but will front today.
Spirit coach Scott Manson expects his side will be tested.
"They will be bigger, faster and stronger than anything we have come up against. So it is going to be a tough game," he said.
"We need to just be well organised, show some good line speed and put them down early."
Wellington is a side with a solid set of forwards and quick backs. It was relegated from the top tier last year.
Manson said the team culture was good after two wins to start the season.
Centre Islay Fowler was concussed last week and has been replaced by Georgina McCullough. Southlander Amy du Plessis comes on to the bench and will make her debut at this level should she get on the field.
No8 Rebecca Todd left the field last week with an arm injury but has recovered and will be back today.
The Spirit will come under pressure in its set piece but will look to run the big Wellington forward pack around and play a high-tempo game.
The game kicks off at 11.30am today. Otago will fly back to Dunedin this afternoon, denying the side the opportunity of attending the test in Wellington tonight.
Spirit v Pride
Wellington, today, 11.30am
Otago: Sheree Hume, Kiana Wereta, Georgina McCullough, Greer Muir, Cass Engler, Rosie Kelly, Trisha Hopcroft, Rebecca Todd, Georgia Mason, Morgan Henderson, Kate Smith, Julia Gorinski, Eilis Doyle, Tegan Hollows (captain), Isla Pringle. Reserves: Zoe Whatarau, Amy Rule, Jess Kendall, Rachel Scott, Sammy Wong, Amy du Plessis, Cheyenne Cunningham
Wellington: Timena Tuma’ai, Monica Tagoai, Fa’asua Makisi, Amanda Rasch, Ayesha Leti-Iiga, Acacia Te Iwi Mate, Ana-Maria Afuie, Tina Paulo, Gina Williamson, Nina Foaese, Jackie Patea-Fereti (captain), Joanah Ngan-Woo, Janet Taumoli, Alicia Print, Angelica Uila. Reserves: Rosie Stirling, Isadora Laipola, Shaye Whareorere, Sanita Levave, Courtney Clarke, Brooke Tauaneai, Bernadette Robertson
Referee: Tim Griffiths