All Black sensation Isaia Toeava, the 20 year old fullback, will debut in the Vodacom Super 14 this weekend. Not in a jersey he would have expected, however.
Toeava, drafted from the Blues to the Hurricanes, will be hoping to make an impression against the team he will return to in five months time.
In New Zealand, the national coach has the power to force a player to be drafted, and after the Blues could not guarantee starting game time for Toeava to Graham Henry, the Grand Slam mastermind sent him to the ‘Canes.
He is not the only debutant, however. Lock Jason Eaton – who appeared for the All Blacks against Scotland late last season after an impressive NPC campaign – starts in the second row.
“We feel it’s the strongest team for this particular game,” Hurricanes assistant coach Murray Roulston told the Kiwi media..
“We’re happy but it wasn’t an easy selection.
“We had 13 internationals but we certainly chewed the fat for a long time over two or three positions,” Roulston said, making particular reference to the decision to play Ma’a Nonu on the wing to accomodate retired All Black captain Tana Umaga and Conrad Smith in the midfield.
“Because of the strength we’ve got in the midfield, and we’ve only got basically two specialist wingers in our squad, from time to time we’re going to have to make some decisions on a midfielder playing on the wing so it’s him this week.”
Isaia Toeava, Lome Fa’atau, Conrad Smith, Tana Umaga (capt),
Ma’a Nonu, Jimmy Gopperth, Piri Weepu, Rodney So’oialo, Chris Masoe, Jerry
Collins, Jason Eaton, Luke Andrews, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Joe
McDonnell. Res: Luke Mahoney, Tim Fairbrother, Paul Tito, Thomas Waldrom,
Brendan Haami, David Holwell, Shannon Paku.
Isa Nacewa, Doug Howlett, Ben Atiga, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko,
Tasesa Lavea, John Senio, Angus Macdonald, Daniel Braid, Nick Williams,
Greg Rawlinson, Ali Williams, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu (capt), Tony
Woodcock. Res: Tim Dow, Saimone Taumoepeau, Kurtis Haiu, Justin Collins,
Steve Devine, Rua Tipoki, Brent Ward.