Official team lists and injury news for this week's provincial rugby championship games.
With the All Blacks now counting down towards next month's Bledisloe Cup series, most will become unavailable for their provincial teams this week, although coach Ian Foster will used these games to finalise 11 extra players for his Rugby Championship squad.
WELLINGTON V BAY OF PLENTY
7pm Friday, September 25
Sky Stadium, Wellington
Wellington: 1-Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 2-Tyrone Thompson, 3-Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe, 4-James Blackwell, 5-Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 6-Vaea Fifita, 7-Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8-Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 9-Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 10-Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11-Julian Savea/Pepesana Patafilo, 12-Vince Aso, 13-Peter Umaga-Jensen, 14-Wes Goosen, 15-Billy Proctor
Reserves: 16-Bruce Kauika-Petersen, 17-Morgan Poi, 18-Ben Aumua-Peseta, 19-Caleb Delany, 20-Mateaki Kafatolu, 21-Connor Collins, 22-Trent Renata, 23-Patafilo/Ruben Love
The absence of All Blacks leaves former internationals Vaea Fifita and Julian Savea as the Lions' senior-ranking stars, although an injury cloud hangs over Savea.
Hooker Bruce Kaika-Petersen will probably debut off the bench, with Ruben Love another newcomer, if Savea is eventually scratched.
Bay of Plenty: 1-Tevita Mafileo, 2-Nathan Vella, 3-Jeff Thwaites, 4-Kane Le'aupepe, 5-Keepa Mewett, 6-Aaron Carroll, 7-Zane Kapeli, 8-Joe Tupe, 9-Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 10-Dan Hollinshead, 11-Fa'asiu Fuatai, 12-Chase Tiatia, 13-Regan Ware, 14-Joe Webber, 15-Kalen Trask
Reserves: 16-Nic Souchon, 17-Jordan Lay, 18-Ross Geldenhuys, 19-Stan van den Hoven, 20-Joe Johnson, 21-Luke Campbell, 22-Scott Curry, 23-Cole Forbes
No Sam Cane for the Bay this week, which means a start for Zane Kapeli in the No.7 jersey.
Halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi will be key for the Steamers against a stacked Wellington side.
Head to Head: Vince Aso v Chase Tiatia
The two No.12s are key members of the Hurricanes in Super Rugby, but on Friday night, the battle in the midfield will go a long way towards determining which side will come out on top.
TASMAN V WAIKATO
2pm Saturday, September 26
Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Tasman: 1-Isi Tu'ungafasi, 2-Andrew Makalio, 3-Isaac Salmon, 4-Alex Ainley, 5-Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 6-Jacob Norris, 7-Sione Havili, 8-Hugh Renton, 9-Dwayne Polataivao, 10-Mitchell Hunt, 11-Leicester Faingaanuku, 12-Alex Nankivell, 13-Fetuli Paea, 14-Mark Telea, 15-David Havili
Reserves: 16-Quentin MacDonald, 17-Ryan Coxon, 18-Samuel Matenga, 19-Mahroni Ngakuru, 20-Braden Stewart, 21-Louie Chapman, 22-Tim O'Malley, 23-Tima Faingaanuku
The Mako have named a formidable lineup, despite their All Blacks stars departing the team.
Mark Telea returns to the wing in place of Sevu Reece, while David Havili is at fullback instead of Will Jordan. With Havili moving to fullback, Alex Nankivell joins the midfield.
In the forward pack, Isaac Salmon comes into the starting side for Tyrel Lomax, while Jacob Norris moves from openside to blindside flanker in place of Shannon Frizell. Sione Havili takes his place in the No.7 jersey, with lock Alex Ainley also coming into the starting side.
Waikato: 1-Ollie Norris, 2-Samisoni Taukei’aho, 3-Sefo Kautai, 4-Hamilton Burr, 5-Samipeni Finau, 6-Adam Thomson, 7-Luke Jacobsen, 8-Simon Parker, 9-Xavier Roe, 10-Fletcher Smith, 11-Patrick Osborne, 12-Louis Rogers, 13-Quinn Tupaea, 14-Bailyn Sullivan, 15-Liam Coombes-Fabling
Reserves: 16-Steven Misa, 17-Rob Cobb, 18-Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19-James Thompson, 20-Hugo Nankivell, 21-Cortez Ratima, 22-Rivez Reihana, 23-Valynce Te Whare
The tight five features only one change, with Sefo Kautai starting at tighthead prop. Luke Jacobson moves in one spot to start at openside flanker, replacing brother Mitch, while Simon Parker comes off the bench to start at No.8 and Adam Thomson retains his place at blindside flanker.
In the backline, All Blacks duo Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie are unavailable, so Louis Rogers is named in the centres and Liam Coombes-Fabling shifts to fullback. Patrick Osborne will make his Waikato Mitre 10 Cup debut on the left wing.
Head to head: Mark Telea v Patrick Osborne
Winger Telea starred for the Blues in his first Super Rugby season, while veteran counterpart Osborne was won titles with the Chiefs and Highlanders.
SOUTHLAND V NORTH HARBOUR
4:30pm Saturday, September 26
Rugby Park, Southland
North Harbour: 1-Nic Mayhew, 2-Luteru Tolai, 3-Sione Mafileo, 4-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5-Jacob Pierce, 6-Ethan Roots, 7-Tim Sail, 8-Lotu Inisi, 9-Lewis Gjaltema, 10-Bryn Gatland, 11-Walter Fifita, 12-James Little, 13-Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 14-Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, 15-Shaun Stevenson
Reserves: 16-Zane Turner, 17-Teague McElroy, 18-Jimmy Roots, 19-Xavier Cowley-Tuioti, 20-Murphy Taramai, 21-Brad McNaughten, 22-Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u, 23-Kade Banks
As well as losing Karl Tu'inukuafe on All Blacks duty, Harbour will miss captain Dillon Hunt with concussion, while halfback Bryn Hall earns a rest.
In their absence, first-five Bryn Gatland and Crusaders flanker Ethan Roots will lead a side that still features considerable Super Rugby experience.
HAWKE'S BAY V CANTERBURY
7pm Saturday, September 26
McLean Park, Napier
Hawke's Bay:1-Pouri Rakete-Stones, 2-Ash Dixon, 3-Joe Apikotoa, 4-Geoff Cridge, 5-Tom Parsons, 6-Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7-Brendon O’Connor, 8-Devan Flanders, 9-Folau Fakatava, 10-Lincoln McClutchie, 11-Jonah Lowe, 12-Danny Toala, 13-Stacey Ili, 14-Lolagi Visinia, 15-Kurt Baker
Reserves: 16-Jacob Devery, 17-Jason Long, 18-Joel Hintz, 19-Isaia Walker-Leaware, 20-Gareth Evans, 21-Connor McLeod, 22-Caleb Makene, 23-Ollie Sapsford
Canterbury:1-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2-Shilo Klein, 3-Oliver Jager, 4-Sam Darry, 5-Mitchell Dunshea, 6-Tom Sanders, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Whetukamokamo Douglas, 9-Mitchell Drummond, 10-Brett Cameron, 11-Manasa Mataele, 12-Rameka Poihipi, 13-Ngatungane Punivai, 14-Josh McKay, 15-Andrew Knewstubb
Reserves: Scott Mellow, Finlay Brewis, Fletcher Newell, Reed Prinsep, Tom Christie, Enari Ereatara, Fergus Burke, Isaiah Punivai
Several changes for the red-and-blacks, but look out for hooker Shilo Klein, who was extremley infuential in Canterbury's near comeback against Taranaki last weekend.
The back row is still a strong combination, while Josh McKay replaces George Bridge on the wing, meaning a first start for sevens star Andrew Knewstubb at fullback.
Head to Head: Lolagi Visinia v Manasa Mataele
A epic encounter set between the Magpies No.14 and Canterbury's left winger - two excellent ball-runners and both will provide offensive sparks for their sides.
AUCKLAND V MANAWATU
2pm Sunday, September 27
Eden Park, Auckland
Auckland: 1-Jarred Adams, 2-Leni Apisai, 3-Angus Ta'aavao, 4-Scott Scrafton, 5-Jack Whetton, 6-Adrian Choat, 7-Blake Gibson, 8-Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa, 9-Taufa Funaki, 10-Simon Hickey, 11-Salesi Rayasi, 12-TJ Faiane, 13-Tumua Manu, 14-AJ Lam, 15-Jordan Trainor
Reserves: 16-Mike Sosene-Feagai, 17-Marcel Renata, 18-James Lay, 19-Patrick Tuipulotu, 20-Sione Tuipulotu, 21-Jonathan Ruru, 22-Harry Plummer, 23-Zarn Sullivan
Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu will play in his first game of hte Mitre 10 Cup season after being named on the bench for Auckland.
Overall Alama Ieremia has made eight changes to his starting side with a four-four split in the forwards and backs.
Jarred Adams and Angus Ta’avao come in at prop, with Blake Gibson and Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa in the loose forwards. Taufa Funaki will make his debut as starting halfback, while Tumua Manu and Salesi Rayasi join the backline.
Manawatū: 1-Tietie Tuimauga, 2-Siua Maile, 3-Mike Alaalatoa, 4-Liam Mitchell, 5-Tefilo Paulo, 6-Tyler Laubscher, 7-Shamus Hurley-Langton, 8-Brayden Iose, 9-Jamie Booth (c), 10-Stewart Cruden, 11-Adam Boult, 12-James Tofa, 13-Nigel Ah Wong, 14-Newton Tudreu, 15-Nehe Milner-Skudder
Reserves: 16-Sam Stewart, 17-Chris Eves, 18-Kyle Stewart, 19-Sam Liebezeit, 20-Micaiah Torrance-Read, 21-Bryn Wilson, 22-Ben Wyness, 23-Te Rangtira Waitokia
Young duo first five-eighth Stewart Cruden and loose forward Tyler Laubscher will make their first starts for the Turbos while Nigel Ah Wong and Bryn Wilson will both make their debuts from the province.
TARANAKI V OTAGO
2pm Sunday, September 27
TET Stadium & Events Centre, Inglewood
Taranaki: 1-Jared Proffit, 2-Bradley Slater, 3-Reuben O'Neill, 4-Josh Lord, 5-Tupou Vaa'i, 6-Mitchell Crosswell, 7-Lachlan Boshier, 8-Kaylum Boshier, 9-Lisati Milo-Harris, 10-Jayson Potroz, 11-Lewis Ormand, 12-Tei Walden, 13-Sean Wainui, 14-Jacob Raumaitayuki-Kneepkens, 15-Stephen Perofeta
Reserves: 16-Ricky Riccitelli, 17-Chris Gawler, 18-Donald Brighouse, 19-Findlamor Hoeata, 20-Tom Florence, 21-Kylem O'Donnell, 22-Daniel Waite, 23-Brayton Northcott-Hill
Otago: 1-George Bower, 2-:Liam Coltman, 3-Josh Hohneck, 4-Jack Regan, 5-Will Tucker, 6-Charles Eaton, 7-Slade McDowall, 8-Dylan Nel, 9-Kayne Hammngton, 10-Josh Ioane, 11-Jona Nareki, 12-Aleki Morris-Lome, 13-Michael Collins, 14-Freedom Vahaakolo, 15-Vilimoni Koroi
Reserves: 16-Ricky Jackson, 17-Jonah Aoina, 18-Yoshihisa Sasagi, 19-Josh Hill, 20-Nasi Manu, 21-James Ascott, 22-Josh Timu, 23-Mitchell Scott.
Otago have made just one change to their side as they look to beat Taranaki to claim the Ranfurly Shield.
The entire starting XV is unchanged with Mitchell Scott coming onto the bench.
COUNTIES MANUKAU V NORTHLAND
4:30pm Sunday, September 27
Navigation Home Stadium, Pukekohe
Counties Manukau: 1-Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 2-Zuriel Toniatama, 3-Conan O’Donnell, 4-Potu Leavasa, 5-Matiaha Martin, 6-Sam Slade, 7-Alamanda Motuga, 8-Kieran Read, 9-Jonathan Taumateine, 10-Baden Kerr, 11-Sione Fifita, 12-Latiume Fosita, 13-Orbyn Leger, 14-Kirisi Kuridrani, 15-Etene Nanai-Seturo
Reserves: 16-Joseph Casey, 17-Leigh Hughes, 18-Suetena Asomua, 19-Mickey Woolliams, 20-Jonathan Kawau, 21-Cameron Roigard, 22-Luteru Laulala, 23-Jason Robertson
Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read returns to the line-up, after missing last week's loss to Hawke's Bay, but the Steelers lose current internationals Nepo Laulala and Dalton Papalii.
Highlanders prop Conan O'Donnell will make his first start of the season, replacing Laulala in the front row.
Northland: 1-Luatangi Li, 2-Jordan Olsen, 3-Coree Te Whata-Colley, 4-Josh Goodhue, 5-Temo Mayanavanua, 6-Tom Robinson, 7-Kara Pryor, 8-Sam McNamara, 9-Sam Nock, 10-Dan Hawkins, 11-Pisi Leilua, 12-Blake Hohaia, 13-Rene Ranger, 14-Jordan Hyland, 15-Matthew Wright
Reserves: 16-Paddy Atkins, 17-Ross Wright, 18-Kalolo Tuiloma, 19-Sam Caird, 20-Saimoni Uluinakauvadra, 21-Will Grant, 22-Wiseguy Fiane, 23-Scott Gregory
Northland have made a host of changes to their side with prop Coree Te Whata-Colley and lock Temo Mayanavanua promoted to the starting side.
In the backs, Dan Hawkins returns to first-five with Blake Hohaia moving into the midfield, while Matthew Wright is named at fullback with Scott Gregory to come off the bench.
Loose forward Tom Robinson will play his blazer game for the Taniwha.