The three Steelform Wanganui players who were incumbent members of the New Zealand Heartland XV will start tomorrow's historic match with Manu Samoa at Eden Park.

New coach Mark Rutene has settled on his 23-man lineup, which will be captained by the 2018 Heartland Player of the Year in Brett Ranga, taking over the role from his retired Thames Valley team mate Alex Bradley.

Wanganui's Craig Clare retains his vice captaincy and his fullback spot, with Buller incumbent James Lash again at first-five.

Campbell Hart moves from blindside flanker into lock for this Heartland match, while Peni Nabainivalu returns at centre, where he was man of the match in the Heartland XV's second game last year – the 46-19 win over NZ Marist.


In total, 18 players are returning from that 2018 squad.

"It was pretty seamless coming in and the new faces we do have, have fit in really well," said Rutene.

This includes Wanganui halfback Lindsay Horrocks on the bench, having previously been part of the New Zealand team in 2015-16, while looking to make his debut will be reserve back Timoci Seruwalu, who has been loaned to Horowhenua-Kapiti for the second year in a row.

The other new faces are Buller No 8 Jeff Lepa, Thames Valley winger Harry Lafituanai, and South Canterbury reserve back Kalavini Leatigaga.

Rutene said the they know what to expect from the Samoa squad, who are building up towards the Rugby World Cup.

"We have had a bit of a look at the Samoa team, but it is more on us.

"We need to be ready to adjust to the intensity and pace of the game so that'll be our biggest challenge.

"The players are absolutely jumping out of their skin to get out onto the field, for many of them this match will be the biggest of their career.


"I want them to bring that excitement to the game."

The match will be the opening game of the Pasifika Challenge II at Eden Park, being followed by Tonga vs Fiji.

Kick off is 2pm, while the game will be broadcast live on SKY Sports 3.

The New Zealand Heartland XV is
1. Carl Carmichael (King Country); 2. Troy Tauwhare (West Coast); 3. Scott Cameron (Horowhenua Kapiti); 4. Josh Clark (North Otago); 5. Campbell Hart (Wanganui); 6. Brett Ranga – captain (Thames Valley); 7. Seta Koritamana (Mid Canterbury); 8. Jeff Lepa (Buller); 9. William Wright (South Canterbury); 10. James Lash (Buller); 11. Willie Paiaaua (Horowhenua Kapiti); 12. Sione Holani (West Coast); 13. Peni Nabainivalu (Wanganui); 14. Harry Lafituanai (Thames Valley); 15. Craig Clare (Wanganui).
Reserves – Forwards: 16. Glen McIntrye (Thames Valley); 17. Ralph Darling (North Otago); 18. Meli Kolinisau (North Otago); 19. James Goodger (Wairarapa Bush); 20. Aaron Lahmert (Horowhenua Kapiti). Backs: 21. Lindsay Horrocks (Wanganui); 22. Timoci Seruwalu (Horowhenua Kapiti); 23. Kalavini Leatigaga (South Canterbury).