The big winger, who was in outstanding club form for Waiuku this season, will start on the left flank, in one of two changes to the PIC Steelers backline.
Twenty-year-old Karaka player Orbyn Leger, a member of this year’s winning New Zealand Under 20s World Cup side, gains his third cap in the Steelers’ midfield, after coming off the bench against Auckland and Waikato.
They have big boots to fill, coming in for star veterans Tim Nanai-Williams and Stephen Donald, who are both likely to make appearances off the bench.
“These guys have impressed this season both at game-time and on the training field with their skills and attitude and deserve their chance,” said PIC Steelers Head Coach Darryl Suasua. “Both Tim and Stephen picked up niggles and while they could start, we have a tough schedule and need to be sensible about their load.”
Co-captain Jimmy Tupou, who impressed in his return last week, moves to No 8 with Sam Henwood moving to his regular role at No 7 in place of an injured Fotu Lokotui. The middle row is completed with Viliame Rarasea returning after missing the Waikato game with injury to partner with the imposing Matiaha Martin.
Coach Suasua said the team need to make a better start and show more discipline than in their loss to neighbours Waikato.
“The penalty count was 9-0 in the first half against us with a yellow card, and we turned over ball with a lot of mistakes. We can’t afford to give teams such a head start like we did against Waikato. We must show better discipline and learn quickly to adapt to the referees.”
Last year Taranaki snuck home 30-29 in a thriller at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe with the last win by the Steelers back in 2013 which was a Ranfurly Shield defence, with a whopping 44-7 victory, the biggest differential between the two sides.
The teams played each other in the recent Game of Three Halves.
The game starts at 7.35pm on Saturday at Yarrows Stadium in New Plymouth.
The team is: 15. Luteru Laulala, 14. Nigel Ah-Wong, 13. Sam Furniss, 12. Orbyn Leger, 11. Tevita Nabura, 10. Baden Kerr, 9. Augustine Pulu (c); 8. Jimmy Tupou © 7. Sam Henwood, 6. Ronald Raaymakers, 5. Matiaha Martin, 4. Viliame Rarasea, 3. Kalolo Tuiloma, 2. Gafatasi Su’a, 1. Pauliasi Manu.
Reserves: 16. Joe Royal, 17. Coree Te Whata-Colley, 18. Sean Bagshaw, 19. Leroy Jack, 20. Johnathan Kawau, 21. Jonathan Taumateine, 22. Stephen Donald, 23. Tim Nanai-Williams.
Not considered because of injury: Glen Fisi’iahi, Suliasi Taufalele, Fotu Lokotui and Matt Vaai.Since you’re here… we have a small favour to ask. More and more people want the Post than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Post’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. With investigative reporting, we often don't know at the beginning how a story will unfold and how long it might take to uncover. This can mean it is costly – particularly as we often face legal threats that attempt to stop our reporting. But we remain committed to raising important questions and exposing wrongdoing. And we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as NZ$5, you can support the Post – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Post