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Lions to Close Out Storm Week in Christchurch


After two successful Shield defences in Round 3, the Wellington Lions round out their storm week in Christchurch, a repeat of last year’s Bunnings NPC Final, taking on Canterbury.


Head Coach Tamati Ellison has stuck with rest and rotation at the back end of a heavy week, making multiple changes to the side that defeated Tasman on Wednesday night.


“We’re stoked to have defended the [Ranfurly] Shield twice in the space of five days. Storm week is the toughest week on the schedule and we’re looking to give some fresh players a run, aiming to round out the week on a high” Ellison said.


Two changes in the front row see Josh Southall and PJ Sheck elevated off the bench to the starting lineup, alongside Loosehead Prop Xavier Numia, who backs up from Wedensday night.


Hugo Plummer also returns to the starting lineup, and will partner Dominic Bird who made a successful return from injury against Tasman mid-week.


In the loose forwards, a first appearance of the season for the powerful Sione Halalilo on the openside. Brad Shields suits up on the blindside, with Peter Lakai at the back of the scrum, both backing up after 80 minutes.


A brand new halves pairing will see Kyle Preston starting at halfback, with Sam Clarke in line for his Bunnings NPC debut running the backline from first five.


Riley Higgins will wear the #12 jersey and partners Peter Umaga-Jensen in the midfield. Umaga-Jensen moves one spot out and takes over the captaincy for the weekend in the absence of Du’Plessis Kirifi.


Losi Filipo starts on the right wing, with Chicago Doyle on the left, Tjay Clarke will start at the back after two impressive performances in the last week.


On the bench, Penieli Poasa, Cameron Orr and Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe provide cover across the front row.


Former Samoan international Teofilo Paulo and Dominic Ropeti cover the second row, Ropeti coming off the back of some impressive minutes off the bench on Wednesday.


A potential debut for Pōneke’s Sam Howling, which would make him the latest Academy graduate should he get on at halfback. Aidan Morgan and Isi Saumaki round out the 23.


The Wellington Lions take on Canterbury at Apollo Projects Stadium in Christchurch, 2:05pm on Sunday. The match will be live on Sky Sport.


Lions side v Canterbury:

  1. Xavier Numia
  2. Josh Southall
  3. PJ Sheck
  4. Hugo Plummer
  5. Dominic Bird
  6. Brad Shields
  7. Sione Halalilo
  8. Peter Lakai
  9. Kyle Preston
  10. Sam Clarke
  11. Chicago Doyle
  12. Riley Higgins
  13. Peter Umaga-Jensen ©
  14. Losi Filipo
  15. Tjay Clarke
  16. Penieli Poasa
  17. Cameron Orr
  18. Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe
  19. Teofilo Paulo
  20. Dominic Ropeti
  21. Sam Howling*
  22. Aidan Morgan
  23. Isi Saumaki


*denotes debut


Unavailable for Selection:

Asafo Aumua, Bradley Crichton, Connor Garden-Bachop, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea.