September 25, 2020

Bulls named for shield defence against Otago

New All Blacks squad member & Gallagher Chief Tupou Vaa’i has been released to play for the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls in their first Ranfurly Shield defence against Otago at Inglewood’s TET Stadium and Events Centre on Sunday.

Vaa’i has played a major part in the Bulls winning their opening two Mitre 10 Cup matches in 2020 alongside second row partner Josh Lord who was also at the forefront of Taranaki’s determined and impressive 23-22 Shield win over Canterbury in Christchurch.

The absence of fellow All Blacks squad members Beauden and Jordie Barrett has seen two changes to pivotal positions, with Tukapa’s Jayson Potroz to wear the No 10 jersey while Stephen Perofeta returns from an injury he suffered during Super Rugby to start at fullback.

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls captain & Gallagher Chief Mitchell Brown has failed a fitness test on a minor hamstring injury with Mitchell Crosswell again named to start on the side of the scrum, alongside Gallagher Chief Lachlan Boshier & Kaylum Boshier, the former catching national attention for his performance against Canterbury while his younger brother also impressed at Orangetheory Stadium.

In other changes to the pack, Gallagher Chiefs rake Bradley Slater will start with Ricky Riccitelli set to come off the bench while veteran prop Ben May has a minor injury and has been replaced at tighthead by Gallagher Chief Reuben O’Neill. That sees Jared Proffit start at loosehead with Chris Gawler coming into the reserves.

“While it has been an extraordinary week since we lifted the Ranfurly Shield, and it’s been truly humbling to see all the support we have received locally, it has not been hard to bring the squad back to a grounded level,” Yarrows Taranaki Bulls coach Willie Rickards said.

“We realise the magnitude of the challenge we will face from Otago and we are all really looking forward to meeting that in front of our home fans. The prospect of a full house and a real atmosphere has everyone in our group really excited. ”

Rickards has also made several changes to the bench, with Findlamor Hoeata coming in for potentially his first appearance of 2020 while reserve halfback Kylem O’Donnell replaces Warwick Lahmert who was injured in the Ranfurly Shield win. Kick-off on Sunday is 2.05pm.

Taranaki Bulls to face Otago (RS):

1. Jared Proffit
2. Bradley Slater
3. Reuben O'Neill
4. Josh Lord
5. Tupou Vaa'i
6. Mitchell Crosswell
7. Lachlan Boshier
8. Kaylum Boshier
9. Lisati Milo-Harris
10. Jayson Potroz
11. Lewis Ormond
12. Teihorangi Walden (c)
13. Sean Wainui
14. Jacob Ratumaitayuki-Kneepkens
15. Stephen Perofeta

16. Ricky Riccitelli
17. Chris Gawler
18. Donald Brighouse
19. Findlamor Hoeata
20. Tom Florence
21. Kylem O'Donnell
22. Daniel Waite
23. Brayton Northcott-Hill

Bulls named for shield defence against Otago