PREVIEW: Canterbury v Otago (RS)

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Friday, August 25, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Canterbury will be filled with confidence as a result of their first round 39-0 win over Tasman, last season's beaten finalists. They completely dominated the effort in Nelson, showed plenty of pace and by denying Tasman points demonstrated the quality of their defensive game. Otago were not so fortunate in losing 17-19 to Premiership side North Harbour. However, Otago did enough to win the game but couldn't quite overcome the improved North Harbour spirit. There have been some great Shield games played between the two provinces down the years but it will take a massive effort by Otago to reach that level.

Played 163
Wins: Canterbury 90, Otago 63
Last match: Canterbury 45 Otago 34, 2016, Christchurch

The return of All Blacks squad member Matt Todd is another boost for the side. With 71 games for the province he offers a core of experience in a team increasingly reflecting the youth of the modern provincial championship. Otago are not without their own ability in the department, especially with Super Rugby performers in Dillon Hunt and former Cantabrian James Lentjes, but backing Todd will be the up and coming Reed Prinsep and the Highlanders' skipper Luke Whitelock. That will ensure Canterbury plenty of ability in attempting to stem the flow of the ball for the Otago side which enjoys the running game. To build on that area Mitchell Drummond will start again at halfback but with Ere Enari preferred as back-up this time around. 

A broken hand suffered at training on Tuesday has forced Matt Faddes out of the Otago side for eight weeks robbing the side of his attacking flair. For the Shield challenge Sio Tomkinson has been moved in from the wing to cover centre allowing New Zealand Under-20 wing Jona Nareki to make his starting debut for the side. Coach Cory Brown has made some big selection calls with Jonathan Ruru being the preferred choice to start at halfback ahead of Josh Renton while Josh Ioane will start at first five-eighths ahead of Fletcher Smith. Josh Dickson will play at lock while Italian Test lock Josh Furno will come off the bench. Adam Knight has been preferred at No.8 to Sione Teu.


Canterbury: 1.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.Mitchell Dunshea, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Matt Todd, 8.Luke Whitelock (captain), 9.Mitchell Drummond, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Josh McKay, 12.Rob Thompson, 13.Tim Bateman, 14.Poasa Waqanibau, 15.George Bridge.

Substitutes: 16.Nathan Vella, 17.Alex Hodgman, 18.Oliver Jager, 19.Tom Sanders, 20.Billy Harmon, 21. Ere Enari, 22.Brett Cameron, 23.Brayden Ennor.

Otago: 1.Aki Seiuli, 2.Sam Anderson Heather, 3.Donald Brighouse, 4.Blair Tweed, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Dillon Hunt, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Adam Knight, 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Jona Nareki, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Patelesio Tomkinson, 14.Mitchell Scott, 15.Vilimoni Koroi.

Substitutes: 16.Sekonala Pole, 17.Craig Millar, 18.Hisa Sasagi, 19.Sione Teu, 20.Josh Renton, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Leroy van Dam.