The Mooloos have named their squad for what promises to be a crucial ITM Cup match against Taranaki in New Plymouth on Friday night.
Wharenui Hawera will start at first five in a surprise selection by coach Sean Botherway as ITM Cup joint point leading scorer Damian McKenzie moves to fullback for the first time this season.
The selection of Hawera has come as a surprise to many.
Hawera has only come off the bench twice for Waikato this season after returning from two separate broken arms playing club rugby this year.
McKenzie himself has admitted he doesn’t mind playing at either fullback or first five, but given the current scintillating form the 20-year old is in; some Waikato fans would say that the switch is a gamble heading into such a crucial encounter against Taranaki.
Stephen Donald is still suffering from a niggling hamstring injury and has been bracketed on the bench but it won’t be known if he can play until Friday.
Declan O’Donnell is out with a broken finger, giving exciting Old Boys winger Regan Ware his first opportunity for Waikato this year after a strong club season.
Waikato face a tough period ahead in ITM Cup with three games in nine days including an assignment against Canterbury down in Christchurch before returning home to play Wellington.
A win in at least one of these games is going to be crucial if Waikato want to make the finals but Sean Botherway will be expecting his side to be more than competitive in the two away matches against tough opposition.
Waikato currently sits fifth on the ITM Cup points ladder for the premiership division.
The Mooloos squad vs Taranaki:
- Loni Uhila (15)
- Hame Faiva (16)
- Josh Hohneck (21)
- James Tucker (5)
- David Morgan (9)
- Whetu Douglas [co-captain] (19)
- Zane Kapeli (15)
- Adam Burn (21)
- Brad Weber [co-captain] (22)
- Wharenui Hawera (20)
- Shaun Stevenson (5)
- Jordan Payne (13)
- Anton Lienert-Brown (14)
- Regan Ware (7)
- Damian McKenzie (15)
- Tyrone Te Ruruku (1)
- Atu Moli (3)
- Ben Tameifuna (17)
- Josh Tyrell (12)
- Murray Iti (3)
- Harrison Levien (2)
- Stephen Donald (58) / Chauncy Edwardson (3)
- Dylan Collier (10)