Wes Goosen will return from injury to play his 50th game for the Lions in this Sunday’s clash with Auckland at Eden Park.
The 24-year-old has been a fixture of the squad since making his debut against Waikato in 2014. Since then, he’s gone on to accumulate 24 tries (120 points) for his province.
Head coach, Leo Crowley says he’s excited to see the winger in action.
“Wes has played a lot of games for the Lions so to be running out for his 50th is special for him. No doubt he will be seeking opportunities to express himself.”
The Lions will be looking to bounce back from a rough start to the season, which saw them go down to Waikato 52 – 28 in round one. Whilst not an ideal start to the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup campaign, Crowley says the team’s been working hard at training.
“While obviously disappointed with last week’s performance, the team has had another week together to fine-tune a lot of our play. No doubt Auckland have as well, so we’re definitely expecting a big battle on Sunday.”
Goosen’s inclusion in the starting XV means there has been a re-jig of the midfield and backline Peter Umaga-Jensen takes over the number 13 jersey, whilst Billy Proctor moves to fullback.
“It was always our intention to get as many of our players into the 23 early in our campaign – hence there being a few positional changes this week. Next week is a 5-day turnaround so we will adjust to that when the time comes as well,” Crowley says.
Caleb Delany and Ben Aumua-Peseta are also set to debut this weekend, being brought onto the bench.
Both players have been through Wellington’s academy system and Crowley says they’ve earned their spot in the squad.
“Caleb has grown through the Lions Academy programme over the last few years and while this will be his debut match, but I’m sure there will be plenty more to follow. Ben has also come through the academy and local club scene and his game has progressed nicely over the last twelve months.”
The Lions beat Auckland 34 – 15 when they came across each other in September last year.
The Wellington Lions team to face Auckland on Sunday is:
1 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa
2 Asafo Aumua
3 Alex Fidow
4 James Blackwell
5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi
6 Vaea Fifita
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi [C]
8 Ardie Savea
9 TJ Perenara
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop
11 Julian Savea
12 Vince Aso
13 Peter Umaga-Jensen
14 Wes Goosen [50th GAME]
15 Billy Proctor
16 Tyrone Thompson
17 Morgan Poi
18 Ben Aumua-Peseta [DEBUT]
19 Caleb Delany [DEBUT]
20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas
21 Connor Collins
22 Trent Renata
23 Pepesana Patafilo