His New Zealand obligations done for now, Colin de Grandhomme returns to the Auckland 12 for today's sixth-round Plunket Shield match against Wellington at Colin Maiden Park.

De Grandhomme replaces opener Jeet Raval, who is the unlucky player among a top order group who collectively failed against Otago in the last round.

The result is they remain on leaders Northern Districts' heels, five points ahead of third-placed Wellington.

Wellington have made three changes from the team which beat Canterbury at Rangiora on Monday. Stephen Murdoch is unavailable while Andy McKay and Jesse Ryder are on national team duty. Their places go to Craig Cachopa, Ronald Karaitiana and Michael Pollard.

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In the other sixth-round games, Canterbury host ND in Rangiora, while Otago play Central Districts in Queenstown.

Points after five rounds: ND 64, Auckland 50, Wellington 45, CD 34, Otago 29, Canterbury 27.

PLUNKET SHIELD

* Auckland v Wellington

* Colin Maiden Park, 10.30am today.

Auckland: Gareth Hopkins (c), Tim McIntosh, Brad Cachopa, Neal Parlane, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell McClenaghan, Bruce Martin, Dean Bartlett, Bhupinder Singh, Chris Martin.

Wellington: Grant Elliott (c), Michael Papps, Josh Brodie, Michael Pollard, Craig Cachopa, Harry Boam, Luke Woodcock, Jeetan Patel, Andrew Lamb, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ronald Karaitiana, Mark Gillespie.