Rugby: Steamers trial team exciting mix of youth

By Greg Taipari

Youth and excitement seems to be the call for when the Steamers take to the field in their final preseason hit-out against North Harbour.

Steamers coach Kevin Schuler has again elected to experiment with some of his younger players for today's match in Katikati.

Rotoiti captain Jesse Acton has been given the nod on the blindside of the scrum. The 23-year-old was instrumental in his club side's success this season.

The hard-working, no-nonsense No8, has been moved to the side of the scrum and will team up with Super 15 heavy weight Luke Braid (open side) and former New Zealand Secondary Schools player Carl Axtens at the back of the scrum. Schuler has gone for the tried and true with Greg Pleasants Tate, Dan Perrin and Tristan Moran making up the front row, while work horses Culum Retallick and Leon Power will be locking the scrum.

Halfback Jamie Nutbrown will wear the captain's armband and will look to build a working combination with Chris Noakes at first-five. The midfield has a look of excitement and dependability with Phil Burleigh (12) and former Queensland Red's Mafi Kefu at centre.

The back three has pace and power written all over it with Lance MacDonald (left wing), Jack Wilson (right wing) and Kenny Lynn taking up the fullback's role.

Paroa centre Maru Henry obviously still has the eye of Schuler. The former Rotorua Boys' High School student, who was selected in the Development Squad, has forced his way on the bench after his solid work rate in the last two matches.

A large crowd is expected for the match at Katikati's Moore Park, which was due to kick off at 2.30pm today.


Steamers squad: Greg Pleasants Tate, Dan Perrin, Tristan Moran, Culum Retallick, Leon Power, Jesse Acton, Luke Braid, Carl Axtens, Jamie Nutbrown (captain), Chris Noakes, Lance MacDonald, Phil Burleigh, Mafi Kefu, Jack Wilson, Kendrick Lynn. Reserves; John Pareanga, Mike Kainga, Pingi Tala'apitaga, Keepa Mewett, Lewis Hancock, Nick McCashin, Simon Rolleston, Maru Henry, Josh Hall, one more to be added.

North Harbour squad: James Parsons, Ben Afeaki, Chris Smith, Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, Glenn Preston, Malakai Ravulo, Solomon King, Bryn Hall, Michael Hobbs, Nafi Tuitayake, Francis Saili, Cory Aporo, David Raikuna, Luke Devcich. Reserves; Manu Leiataua, James Afoa, Filo Paulo, Sam Hayes-Stevenson, Brenton Helleur, Pita Ahki, James Semple, Cody Rei, Taione Vea, Alex Woonton.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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