Stags ignoring the ‘non’ part of their non-competition fixture

Try telling Southland coach Dale MacLeod the game against Wellington today is a non-competition fixture.

While there are no competition points up for grabs, the Stags are taking the game as seriously as they would any other match.

‘‘It is only the people looking in from the outside who think it is a non-competition game,’’ he said.

‘‘For us it is a competition game and a real important part for us in finishing off our season and it is a first-class fixture.’’

Southland will host Northland next weekend and play Taranaki the week after. Those games will count towards Southland’s final season tally.

Prop Joe Walsh will be making his 50th appearance for Southland today, so it will be a nice occasion for him.

Promising Marist loose forward Liam Udy-Johns has been named on the bench and will be making his debut if he gets on, and lock Joel Everson will be playing his blazer game (15th) for Southland.

Wellington has taken the opportunity to rotate some players. Only six starters from the 36-16 win against Manawatu have retained their spots.

Loose forward Peter Lakai is set to make his debut off the bench and there is a new-look front row of Vince Sakaria and PJ Sheck partnering in form hooker Tyrone Thompson.

MacLeod said Wellington still had its ‘‘big dogs’’ in the line-up. ‘‘They are still pretty talented and they’re second in the Premiership competition, so we are under no illusions.

‘‘This is a massive challenge for us.’’


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