Petone loose forward Brad Shields will lead the Ricoh Wellington Lions onto Westpac Stadium for the first time on Saturday, after playing just 28 matches for the province.
The 23-year-old has been a strong performer and hard worker within the Lions environment since his debut in 2010, and as a result, has been handed the captaincy duties for 2014.
Shields said he was honoured and excited to have the opportunity to lead such a proud province, and one he had come through the system of.
“I’m excited for this first match, and I’m excited to work with a fresh bunch of guys who are keen to get stuck in and do the work, and give everything they have for the Lions jersey.
“Personally, I won’t be changing anything in terms of the way I play. I’m just planning to stick to my game, and help the team in any way I can as their captain.”
Coach Chris Boyd has opted to start Fa’atonu Fili in first five-eighth, who will combine with Petone halfback Jared Kahu. Kahu has been a solid performer throughout the Lions’ pre-season matches, as has school leaver and debutant Leni Apisai, who has been given a start at hooker.
Upper Hutt lock Christian Lloyd will also earn his first cap for the Lions on Saturday, while midfielder Wes Goosen will follow suit should he get a crack off the bench.
The match against Waikato kicks off at 6.35pm on Saturday August 16.
The team to face Waikato at Westpac Stadium is;
1. Reggie Goodes (Poneke)
2. Leni Apisai (Northern United)
3. Eric Sione (Northern United)
4. James Wall (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
5. Christian Lloyd (Upper Hutt)
6. Vaea Fifita (Wellington)
7. Adam Hill (Old Boys' University)
8. Brad Shields (c) (Petone)
9. Jared Kahu (Petone)
10. Fa’atonu Fili (Marist St Pat's)
11. Tau Mamea (Wainuiomata)
12. Shaun Treeby (Tawa)
13. Ope Peleseuma (Hutt Old Boys' Marist)
14. Ambrose Curtis (Oriental-Rongotai)
15. Jason Woodward (Upper Hutt)
16. James O'Reilly (Hutt Old Boys' Marist)
17. Tolu Fahamokioa (Tawa)
18. Taniela Koroi (Tawa)
19. Henry Stowers (Wainuiomata)
20. Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys' Marist)
21. Wes Goosen (Old Boys' University)
22. James So'oialo (Tawa)