PREVIEW: Southland v Otago
Friday, August 19, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
Games played: 238
Wins: Southland 82, Otago 146
Last match: Otago 61 Southland 7 (2015)
There will be no shortage of pride in the Southland jersey with two centurions back in action. At halfback, Jimmy Cowan returns after four years away to partner former Waikato first five-eighth Wharenui Hawera in the halves. On the bench, 38-year-old, 138 cap veteran Jason Rutledge is back for another season in the maroon jersey.
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With Otago due to play four games in fourteen days to start their season, they have named a strong bench to showcase their depth. In the forwards, Highlanders Super Rugby props Aki Seiuli and Hisa Sasagi are joined by promising open side flanker James Lentjies. In the backs, 21-year-old first five-eighth Fletcher Smith made his Highlanders debut in 2016 and will be hoping to get more opportunities with Otago as the season wears on.
Southland have added some international talent to their front row in the form of Fiji international prop Peni Ravai and former Western Force prop Guy Millar. While Millar tips the scales at 117kg, Ravai is smaller at 105kg but has real pace for a front rower. Ravai has also excelled in rugby sevens and has the honour of being the only international prop to play sevens for the Fiji national side.
Southland will be motivated to bounce back from the 61-7 humbling at the hands of Otago last year but will need to be at their best to beat their southern neighbours. While hard to separate the teams on paper, Otago will hope their strong bench can bring them home in Invercargill.
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Southland: 15: Tauasosi Tuimavave 14: Jaye Thompson-Te Muunu 13: Dylan Collier 12: James Schrader 11: Mike Molloy 10: Wharenui Hawera 9: Jimmy Cowan 8: Mika Mafi 7: Phil Halder 6: Bill Fukofuka 5: Matthew Philip 4: Mike McKee 3: Guy Millar 2: Brayden Mitchell 1: Peni Ravai
Reserves; Jason Rutledge, Morgan Mitchell, Joe Walsh, Mike Stewart, Wade McRae, Jahvis Wallace, Greg Dyer, Junior Ngaluafe
Otago: 15: Tony Ensor 14: Fa'asiu Fuata'I 13: Michael Collins 12: Teihorangi Walden 11: Mitchell Scott 10: Scott Eade 9: Jonathan Ruru 8: Paul Grant 7: Dillon Hunt 6: Adam Knight 5: Josh Dickson 4: Tom Rowe 3: Donald Brighouse 2: Liam Coltman 1: Craig Miller
Reserves; Sekonia Pole, Aki Seiuli, Hisa Sasagi, Lee Allan, James Lentjes, Josh Walden, Fletcher Smith, Sio Tomkinson.
One of the biggest provincial rugby rivalries is set for Round 1 of #Mitre10Cup. @RugbySouthland v @OtagoRugbyTeam pic.twitter.com/sC4ZsR653L— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) August 17, 2016
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