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Divided loyalties for Waldroms

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Saturday, October 11, 2008    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Having grown up playing alongside each other for their club Avalon, Wellington and the Hurricanes, the past couple of years have seen the brothers square off against each other instead.

This Saturday the latest instalment in the sibling rivalry will be played out at Westpac Stadium as Thomas lines up at No.8 for favourites Wellington, while elder brother Scott, packs down on the flank for Taranaki.

So far the ledger is definitely in Thomas' favour following last year's 53-12 win in the capital and the 25-year-old forward is determined to keep it that way.

"Last year was pretty intense. Mum and Dad won't know who to cheer for now. So they'll be there at the Stadium cheering us both on I think," said Thomas.

"I think it is [quite tough on them]. But they are just happy that we're both playing and injury free."

Taranaki earned their date with the Lions thanks to Northland's upset win against Auckland – a match both brothers watched.

"Scott gave me a call with about 20 minutes to go and said 'if they keep playing like this we'll be playing each other'.

"[At the end] he rang me back again and just said 'see you in Wellington'," Thomas said laughing.

In the build-up to the match not so much as been said but Thomas is expecting a full post-mortem at Sunday dinner.

"We'll probably have a chuckle after the game. I think they will have a good look at what we're trying to do and we're doing exact the same.

"We'll have a chat after the game and see if we knew each other's moves so that will be quite hard case around the dinner table on Sunday."

Thomas remains part of an unchanged loose forward trio alongside Scott Fuglistaller and Chris Masoe meaning returning All Black Rodney So'oialo will start from the bench on Saturday.

But otherwise the starting XV looks vastly different to the one that took to the field against Otago last weekend when coach Jamie Joseph opted to rest several first-choice players.

John Schwalger, Dane Coles and Tim Fairbrother are the new-look front row, while lock Jeremy Thrush returns to pack down alongside Ross Filipo.

In the backs the biggest change has been the switch of Piri Weepu to first five-eighth in place of new father, Daniel Kirkpatrick.

"It hasn't been an ideal build-up for Daniel because him and his partner have just had their first child and his mind at the start of the week was a wee bit consumed," explained Joseph.

"Piri is a quality player and Alby Mathewson has been playing good rugby as well and that's the luxury of having a bench like we do. [Weepu's] got the nod this week and we'll see how he goes."

Weepu is unconcerned about his move to first-five having already played two matches there this season – against Southland and Bay of Plenty.

"I'm not too fussed at all just as long as I'm out there trying to help my team out," he said.

"Alby has been playing well [at halfback] and deserves the start. I don't have any problems moving out to 10 at all."

Hosea Gear, Cory Jane and Tamati Ellison all return to the back line, while Ma'a Nonu makes his first start of the year at second-five and Buxton Popoali'i moves from fullback to the right wing.

Joining So'oialo in the reserves are Ged Robinson, Jacob Ellison, Api Naikatini, Michael Hobbs, Kirkpatrick and Tane Tu'ipulotu.