Turbos make four changes for Ranfurly Shield challenge
Impressive form off the bench has seen Sam Malcolm and Hamish Northcott called into the starting side for the Turbos’ Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki in New Plymouth on Friday.
Malcolm starts in place of Jade Te Rure at first five-eighth, while Northcott comes in at second five-eighth, pushing Rob Thompson to centre.
Lifeimi Mafi, who started at centre in the Turbos’ 24-19 win over Waikato, was ruled out through an ankle injury.
The Turbos have Nehe Milner-Skudder back on the left wing after he was again released by the All Blacks.
Malcolm and Northcott were injected into the last week’s game in the 56th and 49th minute respectively.
The Varsity duo combined well in the second half, looking dangerous on attack, which convinced coach Jeremy Cotter to make the switch.
It will be Malcolm’s second start in green and white in his 12th match over four seasons.
Malcolm has only been back in New Zealand for three weeks after spending the club campaign playing for West Harbour in Australia’s Shute Shield.
He said he needed to do something different this year, but he leaped at a chance to return to the Turbos for the Mitre 10 Cup campaign when he got the call from the coaching staff.
A season of injury-free rugby has helped the former New Zealand Under 20s triallist pull together some top preparation.
Northcott has also benefited from an injury free season.
The 26-year-old is now one of the squad’s most experienced players have donned the green and white 44 times.
He had additional duties in the preseason, filling in at No 10 for one and a half games.
The Turbos have made two further changes to their starting XV with Brad Tucker replacing the suspended Liam Hallam-Eames at lock and Michael Alaalatoa coming in for Sione Asi at prop after being rested in week one.
There are three debutants on the bench in former Auckland lock Sam Slade, loose forward Jackson Iose and utility back James Tofa.
The side will have extra motivation to wrestle the Log o’ Wood off Taranaki with this year marking the 40th anniversary of when Manawatu last held the shield.
Manawatu had won the Ranfurly Shield against Auckland in 1976.
But in 1978 the side controversially lost the shield to North Auckland in their 14th defence when the referee let the game run deep into extra time.
Manawatu Turbos: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Te Rangatira Waitokia, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 10 Sam Malcolm, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Brice Henderson, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri (c), 6 Liam Mitchell, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Brad Tucker, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Tim Cadwallader, 1 Fraser Armstrong. Reserves: 16 Sam Stewart, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Sione Asi, 19 Sam Slade, 20 Jackson Iose, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jade Te Rure, 23 James Tofa