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Lions Look to Lock Away Another Trophy as Counties Come to Town


After an impressive storm week showing, the Wellington Lions are well rested and ready for their next Ranfurly Shield defence, welcoming Counties Manukau to the Capital on Saturday night.


Already on a record winning streak of 17 matches, the Lions will also look to retain the Jonah Tali Lomu Memorial Trophy. Lomu played for both Wellington and Counties Manukau before his tragic passing in 2015.


Midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen will also run out for his 50th appearance, joining Xavier Numia and Billy Proctor in the 50 club this season.


Head Coach Tamati Ellison welcomes back a wealth of experience, after a young side defeated Canterbury in Christchurch on Sunday.


“We’re extremely proud of the whole group for their performances through the last week, especially the younger players who stood up in Christchurch. We have another opportunity to defend the Shield and are excited to be back in front of our home fans’ Ellison said.


In the front row, James O’Reilly starts at hooker with Xavier Numia and Siale Lauaki alongside as props.


Dominic Bird and Hugo Plummer partner once again in the second row, forming a more formidable combination as weeks progress.


As we’ve seen throughout the season, the wealth of depth in the loose forward department is on show once again. Brad Shields starts on the blindside, with Captain Du’Plessis Kirifi returning to the openside. Keelan Whitman also returns and will pack down at the back of the scrum.


Kyle Preston earns another start at halfback, and will link well with first five Aidan Morgan.


In the midfield, the familiar pairing of Peter Umaga-Jensen in his 50th as mentioned, alongside Billy Proctor who reached the same milestone only a matter of weeks ago.


Isi Saumaki and Losi Filipo occupy each wing, Saumaki on the left and Filipo on the right, with Ruben Love also returning to the side to start at fullback.


On the bench, hooker Penieli Poasa is set for another appearance, Cameron Orr and Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe are the two props on the bench.


The young pairing of Akira Ieremia and Dominic Ropeti have performed well in the early rounds of the season and will look to provide that same impact again from the bench.


Kemara Hauiti-Parapara backs up Preston, with Sam Clarke and Riley Higgins rounding out the 23. Clarke was impressive in his NPC debut last week playing alongside brother Tjay.


The Wellington Lions take on Counties Manukau in a Ranfurly Shield defence at 7:05pm on Saturday at Sky Stadium. Tickets are available from


Lions side to take on Counties:

  1. Xavier Numia
  2. James O’Reilly
  3. Siale Lauaki
  4. Dominic Bird
  5. Hugo Plummer
  6. Brad Shields
  7. Du’Plessis Kirifi ©
  8. Keelan Whitman
  9. Kyle Preston
  10. Aidan Morgan
  11. Isi Saumaki
  12. Peter Umaga-Jensen *
  13. Billy Proctor
  14. Losi Filipo
  15. Ruben Love
  16. Penieli Poasa
  17. Cameron Orr
  18. Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe
  19. Akira Ieremia
  20. Dominic Ropeti
  21. Kemara Hauiti-Parapara
  22. Sam Clarke
  23. Riley Higgins


*50th match


Unavailable for Selection:

Asafo Aumua, Bradley Crichton, Connor Garden-Bachop, Caleb Delany, Chicago Doyle, Pepesana Patafilo, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, PJ Sheck, Josh Southall, Tjay Clarke.