Taranaki pair bring up half century

Thursday, Oct 07 2021

Taranaki pair bring up half century

Will Johnston

Photo: Stuff

Two proud Taranaki teammates will bring up a milestone when they run on for the Bulls on Saturday night.

Prop Reuben O’Neill and flanker Lachlan Boshier will play in their 50th match against Otago in Dunedin.

Both will start in the fifth national provincial championship match, where Taranaki are aiming for an unbeaten record. It will be Boshier’s first start of the year after recovering from a foot injury.

The two Chiefs teammates from New Plymouth Boys’ High School were selected in the New Zealand Secondary School team together in 2012.

Boshier made his Taranaki debut in 2014, while O’Neill played in his first game a year later.

O’Neill was selected in the 2018 All Blacks end-of-year tour before making his debut for the Chiefs but never played a game.

Rugby fans expected Boshier to be selected for All Blacks squad after topping breakdown statistics for the last few seasons. Any hopes of a call up were dashed when he signed a lucrative deal with Panasonic in the Japanese top league.

Prop Kyle Stewart earns his blazer for playing 20 matches should he be required off the bench.

Taranaki coach Neil Barnes has made minimal changes to the squad. The side enjoyed a break after their drubbing of Bay of Plenty a fortnight ago.

The only casualty from the match is Mitchell Crosswell, who joins Jessie Parete, Kaylum Boshier and Johnny Faletagoa’i-Malase on the injury list.

Lock Josh Lord has been selected after his All Blacks call up during the week. It will be his last match before he joins the national team for their end-of-year tour.

Number 8 Pita-Gus Sowakula survived a citing scare and retains his start. The New Zealand Rugby judiciary did not uphold a claim of striking in Tauranga.  

Barnes has stuck with the same back three who fired against Bay of Plenty.

Wings Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens and Kini Nahlo and fullback Stephen Perofeta dominated when the ball was spread wide.

Mitchell Brown will co-captain the side off the bench.

Otago had the wrong side of the draw post the Covid-19 lockdown. The southerners have only played three games, with one win. They were meant to play Auckland based teams in the early stages of the competition.

Kick off at Forsyth Barr Stadium is at 7:05pm on Saturday.  

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls v Otago: Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Daniel Waite, Teihorangi Walden, Kini Naholo, Jayson Potroz, Logan Crowley, Pita-Gus Sowakula, Lachlan Boshier, Tom Florence, Fin Hoeata, Josh Lord, Michael Bent, Ricky Riccitelli, Reuben O’Neill. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Jared Profitt, Kyle Stewart, Mitchell Brown, Mills Sanerivi, Liam Blyde, Daniel Rona, Vereniki Tikoisolomone.