Craig set for homecoming in Whangārei

Rookie Allan Craig will run out on his home turf for the first time in DHL Super Rugby Pacific, as Moana Pasifika hosts the Queensland Reds in Whangārei

Born and raised in Ahipara Craig spent his teenage years in the Northland city where he captained the Whangārei Boys High School’s 1st XV. 

The 21-year-old Northland Taniwha also led the Mid Northern Premier side to back-to-back titles last year. This weekend he’s earned his spot at lock. 

“Being born and raised there, playing for the Tanis (Taniwha) was a huge goal growing up and getting to do that means a lot. Now getting to play a Super game there it will be awesome to play in front of my home crowd,” said Craig.

Moana Pasifika Assistant Coach Stephen Jones said: “It’s going to be an awesome place to play. I’ve never been there and I’ve heard great things about the ground and the place. I know for Allan Craig it’s extra special and will be a proud moment for him and his family.”

Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has made changes to this week’s team with Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli and Sione Mafileo starting in the front row. 

Jacob Norris gets the nod to start at flanker, meanwhile Sione Havili Talitui will wear the skipper’s arm band at number 8. 

In the backline Ereatara Enari gets the start at halfback and William Havili at number 10. Fine Inisi moves out to the left wing and Henry Taefu rejoins the squad at centre. 

Viliami Fine shifts out to the right wing and Danny Toala returns to fullback.

Bringing impact off the bench is Sama Malolo, Sateki Latu, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Miracle Faiilagi, Melani Matavao, Christian Lealiifano and Nigel Ah Wong. 

“We’re fully aware that it’s been a tough three weeks for us. We’ve refocused and we’ve made it clear on what parts of our game we want to improve and how we’re going to do that. The effort has been excellent from the group.” said Jones.

“We see how hard the boys work on a daily basis. I know how good they are, I see how determined they are so without any shadow of doubt we’re very confident in the group.”

Lotu Inisi remains unavailable for selection following a concussion sustained against the Blues in Round 6. He is following HIA protocols. 

Unavailable due to injury/illness: Alamanda Motuga, Anzelo Tuitavuki, James Lay, Jonathan Taumateine, Kyren Taumoefolau, Lalomilo Lalomilo, Lotu Inisi Neria Fomai, Ofa Tauatevalu, Pepesana Patafilo, Samuel Slade, Solomone Funaki.


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