The 2018 Wellington Lions line up has been revealed, with centre Matt Proctor, 25, chosen as leader of the team. Procter will step in for Brad Shields, who is now playing for England.
By LUKE JACKSON
“Matt is incredibly well respected, not only in the Wellington region, but right across the country and we are all excited about what he will bring to the role,” said Lions head coach Chris Gibbes.
Injuries have kept Proctor off the field recently, from a shoulder injury last year during Wellington’s premiership season to a sternum issue during the Super Rugby tournament.
New Wellington Lions captain Matt Proctor. Photo by Mark Tantrum.
Vaea Fifita, who narrowly missed a chance at returning to the All Blacks premiership squad, will be joining the loose forwards. Dane Coles, who is in Sydney with the All Blacks this weekend, will hopefully get a chance on the field.
Other current All Blacks TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea were named but their availably is also unclear. Family roots run deep in this 38-strong squad. Centre Billy Proctor will be joining his older brother and twins Peter and Tomas Umaga-Jensen in the midfield.
The Wellington Lions were the winners of last year’s Mitre 10 Cup Championship, and will host Otago at the Westpac Stadium this Sunday in their first game of the season.
“We really want to carry on the momentum we had at the end of last season and the whole squad are really excited about getting the chance to do that against what is a quality Otago side,” Gibbes said in a statement.
Full 2018 Wellington Lions squad
Forwards: Leni Apisai, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, James O’Reilly,Tolu Fahamokioa, Alex Fidow, Joel Hintz, Xavier Numia, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Tietie Tuimauga, James Blackwell, Sam Lousi, Will Mangos, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Vaea Fifita, Greg Foe, Mateaki Kafatolu, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, Galu Taufale, Thomas Waldrom.
Backs: Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, TJ Perenara, Carlos Price, Sheridan Rangihuna, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Pakai Turia, TJ Va’a, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Billy Proctor, Thomas Umaga- Jensen, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Losi Filipo, Ben Lam, Trent Renata, Malo Tuitama