Canterbury v Auckland, ITM Cup
Auckland make five starting changes
ESPN Staff
October 17, 2013
Auckland 's Peter Saili makes a break, Auckland v Canterbury, ITM Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, September 28, 2013
Auckland need another powerful effort from Peter Saili © Getty Images

Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac has made five changes to his starting XV for the ITM Cup Premiership semi-final against Canterbury at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.

Luke Braid and Vince Aso made successful returns from injury off the bench against Otago to earn promotion to the starting XV, while props Sam Prattley and Angus Ta'avao replace Pauliasi Manu and Ofa Tu'ungafasi respectively. Sean Brookman will make his first start of the season at lock ahead of Jack Whetton, with impressive Auckland Under-20 lock William Lloyd poised to make his provincial debut after being named on the bench.

Auckland head into the fixture on the back of disappointing losses to Wellington Lions and Otago, but Pivac said his players were focused only on one game of knockout rugby. "We've put that to bed," he said. "Obviously the round-robin is about gaining enough points to be in the play-offs and we've achieved that so our focus is on a one-off 80 minute game of rugby.

"We need to adjust the mindset in terms of winning at all costs; whether it's a win by one point or 10 points it doesn't matter, it's just about winning a game of rugby."

Pivac said his team had revisited their impressive 39-19 victory over Canterbury at Eden Park in round seven. "We're well aware of how well we can play and we have reverted back to that game [against Canterbury] earlier in the week, but we also had a good look at the Wellington and Otago performances and looked at how poor we can be at times.

"So really it's about attitude. It's about preparation and individuals taking ownership and making sure that when they front up on Saturday, they know their roles inside out and they apply themselves, it's as simple as that really."

Pivac conceded Canterbury would pose a far greater challenge on their home turf as they chase a record sixth successive title. "It's a Canterbury team playing at home and it's a Canterbury team in the play-offs defending the title they've won for the last five years. They know all about play-offs footy, they've got a lot of experience, they've got a lot of key players playing well, so it's going to be a big game for us."

Auckland: Lolagi Visinia; Vince Aso, Malakai Fekitoa, Hadleigh Parkes (captain), George Moala; Simon Hickey, Wayne Ngaluafe; Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Sean Polwart; Sean Brookman, Liaki Moli; Angus Ta'avao, Tom McCartney, Sam Prattley. Replacements: Nathan Vella, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Kara Pryor, Jack Whetton, William Lloyd, Junior Poluleuligaga, Tenina Sauileoge.

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