Taranaki make mass changes

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - GLENN MCLEAN

The re­ward of fin­ish­ing top of the Mitre 10 Cup premier­ship ta­ble with a game to spare has been well and truly high­lighted by Taranaki coach Colin Cooper who has opted to rest the en­tire start­ing XV from Wed­nes­day’s suc­cess­ful Ran­furly Shield de­fence against Manawatu.

Taranaki will meet North Har­bour at Al­bany on Sun­day in what has fast be­come a mean­ing­less game for them, although it could de­cide which teams fin­ishes third or fourth on the ta­ble de­pend­ing on how Tas­man’s match with Coun­ties Manukau goes.

Sud­denly, Taranaki’s ‘storm’ week has be­come a week­end off for the front­line play­ers with just a hand­ful who did not start against Manawatu asked to ei­ther start or sit on the bench.

That in­cludes cap­tain Char­lie Ngatai, who will lead from full­back, while Wed­nes­day night re­serves Kylem and De­clan O’Donnell, along with Fin Hoeata, Adrian Wyrill and the en­tire front row will be in the XV who run on.

First five-eighth Ciarahn Ma­toe and No 8 Tom Florence will get their first run-ons for Taranaki af­ter play­ing late roles off the bench ear­lier in the sea­son for ex­pe­ri­ence while there will be full de­buts for well per­formed devel­op­ment play­ers Mi­ca­iah Tor­ranceRead and Daniel Waite.

A num­ber of play­ers could also ap­pear for Taranaki for the first time if they are called on from the re­serves, in­clud­ing promis­ing hooker Bradley Slater, son of for­mer long-serv­ing pro­vin­cial cap­tain An­drew, and Clifton full­back Matt McKen­zie.

Another ma­jor talk­ing point in the se­lec­tion is the re­turn to the start­ing side of 56-game veteran Jack­son Or­mond who has not played since he frac­tured his leg for South­ern in their club semi­fi­nal loss to Coastal back in July.

The over­all se­lec­tions will cer­tainly raise eye­brows, and might even evoke some crit­i­cism, but Taranaki have sim­ply opted to take ad­van­tage of their own sit­u­a­tion.

Af­ter all, some crit­ics would point to the fact that sides are se­ri­ously dis­ad­van­taged hav­ing to play three games in 10 days, while other qual­i­fiers have had only two matches in a fort­night.

Taranaki also had the tax­ing sit­u­a­tion of win­ning the Ran­furly Shield off Can­ter­bury on the Fri­day night and then hav­ing to back up and de­fend it on the Wed­nes­day.

Even through that Shield de­fence it was no­tice­able that a num­ber of Taranaki play­ers, who have clocked up a lot of min­utes in the cam­paign, were strug­gling in the sec­ond half and they will now en­joy some rest be­fore they meet ei­ther Har­bour or Tas­man in next week’s semi­fi­nal.

As top qualifier, Taranaki should also be able to dic­tate what day that is played and by some re­ports they will want it on the Satur­day night at Yar­row Sta­dium.


Don­ald Maka will make his start­ing de­but for Taranaki when they meet North Har­bour.

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