The Wellington Lions will kick off their Mitre 10 Cup Rugby Premiership season by hosting Otago at Westpac Stadium this Sunday.
by Luke Jackson
This season is especially promising for the team, after just losing only of its games last seasons – by only two points, against Tasman.
Despite losing two former All Blacks, Julian Savea and Brad Shields, to the international scene, the Lions pack boasts all of Wellington’s current All Blacks. However Dane Cole, TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea’s availability throughout the season is unclear and they will be playing against the Waalbies in Sydney this weekend.
Vaea Fifita, who was not picked in the recent All Blacks championship squad, has a lot to prove in No. 6 this season.
All Black Head Coach Steven Hansen attributed his decision not to select Fifita to the Hurricanes playing him at lock instead of flanker, where he believes Fifita is best suited.
Yet, he chose Jackson Hemopo for flanker, despite him playing lock for the Highlanders.
Fifita initially questioned this decision, but the two have apparently come to an agreement and Hansen is confident that Fifita will have a chance to wear the black jersey once again.
“You want to be a great All Black. That’s still my dream. Hopefully after the Mitre 10 Cup, if I have a good season, hopefully things change,” Fifita told Stuff.
While the Lions are the clear favourites, last time the two sides faced off, Wellington just got away with a 27-24 win, after a successful penalty in the 75th minute.
Wellington mascot Leo the Lion at last year’s game against Bay of Plenty. Photo by RADAR Photography NZ
Kick off is at 2:05pm Westpac Stadium.
Curtain raiser: Wellington v Hawkes Bay U19 at 11:35pm