Wellington Lions name settled squad for semi-final

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The Wellington Lions have named a settled squad for Saturday's Mitre 10 Cup premiership semi-final against Auckland at Eden Park.

Just two changes have been made to the starting XV which defeated Taranaki in their last round robin match, with both coming in the pack.

The inclusion of Vaea Fifita in the All Blacks squad for the northern hemisphere tour has meant he is unavailable.

His spot at blindside flanker has been taken by newly named Wellington Player of the Year James Blackwell who moves from lock with his position in the second row filled by the experienced Sam Lousi.

The only other change comes in the front row where Sitiveni Paongo is promoted from the bench after he came on and made a real impression against Taranaki.

The All Blacks have allowed hooker Dane Coles to continue his comeback from injury and he will again come off the bench before joining the national squad.

There are a couple of changes in the reserves with Du'Plessis Kirifi returning from injury while Losi Filipo comes into the match-day squad after Thomas Umaga-Jensen was ruled out.

Lions head coach Chris Gibbes said the squad was excited at the opportunity to be involved in the play-offs.

"We have plenty of respect for Auckland and what they have achieved so far this season," he said.

"The fact they finished top of the premiership table in what has been a really competitive competition speaks for itself but we are really looking forward to the challenge."

Replacement Trent Renata will play his 100th provincial match if he plays having previously represented Waikato, Otago and Tasman.

Kick-off is 5.05pm.

The Wellington Lions squad to meet Auckland is:

15 Wes Goosen (Old Boys University)
14 Ben Lam (Tawa)
13 Matt Proctor (Oriental-Rongotai) (c)
12 Billy Proctor (Marist St Pats)
11 Malo Tuitama (Oriental-Rongotai)
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Northern United)
9 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara (Tawa)
8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (Old Boys University)
7 Mateaki Kafatolu (Petone)
6 James Blackwell (Petone)
5 Isaia Walker-Leawere (Poneke)
4 Sam Lousi (Marist St Pats)
3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen (Marist St Pats)
2 Asafo Aumua (Avalon)
1 Sitiveni Paongo (Tawa)


16 Dane Coles (Poneke)
17 Tolu Fahamokioa (Tawa)
18 Joel Hintz (Old Boys University)
19 Galu Taufale (Poneke)
20 Du'Plessis Kirifi (Northern United)
21 Carlos Price (Petone)
22 Losi Filipo (Petone)
23 Trent Renata (Oriental-Rongotai)