Verney earns start against Tasman
Old Boys University second-five Regan Verney and Waikato loan player Du’Plessis Kirifi have been named to start for the Wellington XV against Tasman in Seddon on Thursday.
Verney’s selection comes just days after his man of the match performance in the Jubilee Cup final where he spearheaded OBU to victory over Hutt Old Boys Marist.
Verney is one of seven players from the premier club final called up for Wellington’s second preseason match before the start of the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup.
The 24-year-old former rugby league player will start in the midfield with young Marist St Pats centre Billy Proctor in a side that will be captained by Hurricanes and Petone loose forward James Blackwell.
Verney’s Jubilee Cup winning OBU club mates and loose forwards Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Will Mangos are among the reserves in the 26-strong squad.
Kirifi, a New Zealand Under-20s trialist this year, will start at openside after being brought into the squad on a loan agreement with Waikato.
Wellington Lions head coach Chris Gibbes has retained just ten of the squad that played Manawatu in Otaki last weekend, and just three of that squad, fullback Trent Renata, lock Kane Thompson and hooker Ben Power, will start against Tasman.
Power is one of four players from the Hutt Old Boys Marist side that lost the Jubilee Cup final alongside halfback Sheridan Rangihuna, lock Lui Okeamoa-Luamanu and prop Joe Apikotoa.
The Wellington XV’s starting side also features the return of Hurricanes wider squad members Malo Tuitama, who starts ono the right wing, and Samoan blindside Galu Taufale.
New Zealand Under 20s prop Alex Fidow has been named in the reserves where he will also provide cover at hooker.
“This is another chance for guys to put their hands up for Lions selection ahead of the Mitre 10 Cup squad naming on Friday,” Gibbes said. “We got some valuable learning from the Manawatu match and now we’ll be looking to take those forward with an improved effort against Tasman.”
*Updated 9am, Wednesday 9th August.
The Wellington XV to play Tasman at Awatere Rugby Club in Seddon on Thursday, August 10 (Kick off 2.30pm):
15 Trent Renata (Oriental-Rongotai)
14 Malo Tuitama (Oriental-Rongotai)
13 Billy Proctor (Marist St Pats)
12 Regan Verney (Old Boys University)
11 Paddy Hughes (Wellington)
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop (Northern United)
9 Sheridan Rangihuna (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
8 James Blackwell (c) (Petone)
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi (Loan Player)
6 Galu Taufale (Poneke)
5 Lui Okeamoa-Luamanu (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
4 Kane Thompson (Johnsonville)
3 Joe Apikotoa (Hutt Old Boys Marist)
2 Alex Fidow (Ories)
1 Vince Sakaria (Marist St Pats)
16 Chris Mafi (Johnsonville) 17 Sitiveni Paongo (Tawa) 18 Ha'amea Ahio (MSP) 19 Will Mangos (OBU) 20 Greg Foe (Poneke) 21 Teariki Ben-Nicholas (OBU) 22 Carlos Price (Petone) 23 Dan Kirkpatrick (Petone) 24 Levi Harmon (Poneke) 25 Andrew Wells (MSP) 26 Lester Maulolo (Petone)
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