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PREVIEW: Canterbury v Otago

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Friday, September 23, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Form: Until their upset loss to Manawatu last weekend Canterbury had been carrying all before them in the manner associated with their record in the competition in the last decade. How they respond to that loss will be Otago's concern. Otago, on the other hand, remain unbeaten and leading the race to regain a premiership place.

Played: 163

Wins: Canterbury 90, Otago 63, Drawn 10

Last match: Otago 24 Canterbury 38, Dunedin, 2015

Teams:

Canterbury: 1.Alex Hodgman, 2.Ben Funnell, 3.Siate Tokolahi, 4.David McDuling, 5.Dominic Bird, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Billy Harmon, 8.Luke Whitelock (captain), 9.Ere Enari, 10.Richie Mo'unga, 11.Nathan Earle, 12.Rob Thompson, 13.Jack Goodhue, 14.Johnny McNicholl, 15.Jordie Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.Nathan Vella, 17.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18.Lee Roy Atalifo, 19.Scott Barrett, 20.Tom Sanders, 21.Jack Stratton, 22. Poasa Waqanibau, 23.Ben Volavola.

Otago: 1.Craig Millar, 2.Sam Anderson-Heather, 3.Hisa Sasagi, 4.Josh Dickson, 5.Blair Tweed, 6.Lee Allan, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Paul Grant, 9.Jonathan Ruru, 10.Fletcher Smith, 11.Fa'asiu Fuata'I, 12.Sio Tomkinson, 13.Matt Faddes, 14.Mitchell Scott, 15.Tony Ensor.

Substitutes: 16.Sekonaia Pole, 17.Mike Mata'afa, 18.Donald Brighouse, 19.Dillon Hunt, 20.Naulia Dawai, 21.Josh Walden, 22.Scott Eade, 23.Teihorangi Walden.

Squad Update: Six changes have been made to Canterbury's starting line-up after last weekend's loss at the hands of Manawatu. Prop Alex Hodgman, lock David McDuling and loose forward Reed Prinseep all start with Daniel Lienert-Brown, Scott Barrett and Tom Sanders on the bench. Billy Harmon will start on the openside flank. Among the backs Nathan Earle and Johnny McNicholl will start on the wings while in the reserves Poasa Waqanibau is set to make his debut.

Otago will be without fullback Michael Collins who has suffered a calf strain. He will be replaced by Tony Ensor while Matt Faddes will start at centre with Sio Tomkinson moving to second five-eighths and Tei Walden on the bench. Blair Tweed replaces Tom Franklin, who has a groin injury, at lock.

Key Players: Luke Whitelock's who plays his 50th game for the province will be looking to eliminate memories of the Manawatu loss as quickly as possible. Coach Scott Robertson has not been spooked, however, and has worked on the rotation theory, which is understandable with what lies ahead in the season. It's a chance for Billy Harmon to have another top level game in the absence of Matt Todd while halfback Ere Enari is also adding to his experiences at this level.

Otago too, have opted for changes in their approach but the clash at centre between Matt Faddes and Josh Goodhue should be a good battle and equally that between the five-eighths, the generally higher profile Richie Mo'unga for the home team and the below the radar Fletcher Smith for the visitors. Flanker James Lentjes also shapes as a key contributor for Otago with his abilities in the loose.