Solia, Alaalatoa, Malolua to debut for Manu vs Heartland XV

Three players will make their debuts for Manu Samoa on Saturday at Eden Park against the New Zealand Heartland XV.

Tofatuimoana Solia has recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the Pacific Nations Cup to start at number eight.

Newcomers Michael Alaalatoa and Scott Malolua have been giving the starting tighthead prop and bench halfback roles.

Head coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson said he is looking forward to seeing the three debutants:

“We’ve selected a side which we believe can see opportunities and have the confidence to take them. 

“The players know that they can make these decisions with the full support of our coaching staff. 

“It’s time to express themselves and enjoy the occasion.”

Solia’s Manu Samoa 7s teammate Melani Matavao is making his own return from injury to start at halfback.

Returning Manu outside backs Ed Fidow and Tim Nanai-Williams come straight into the starting lineup after missing the Pacific Nations Cup.

Their inclusion means Ahsee Tuala shifts out to the wing, and there's no place in the 23 for Belgium Tuatagaloa.

Henry Taefu and Tusi Pisi cover the backs from the bench, with Ulupano Seuteni keeping the starting first five role.

Loosehead prop Logovi’i Mulipola has not been included, with Jordan Lay getting the start and Paul Alo-Emile joining James Lay on the bench.

With loose forward Piula Fa’asalele still out with a broken wrist, returning Manu Josh Tyrell gets a place on the bench over TJ Ioane, Henry Stowers and Pacific Nations Cup star Afaesetiti Amosa.

Vaeluaga said he is expecting plenty of passion and physicality from the Heartland XV:

“Having played in a rural town in Southland - I understand how they feel and how hungry they’ll be to go out on Eden Park and have a crack at beating an international side. 

“When those guys put on that black jersey, they’ll represent their country as much as what we will - so it’s going to be a really exciting game.”

Kickoff is at 3pm Samoan time.

Manu Samoa team:

1. Jordan Lay
2. Motu Matu’u
3. Michael Alaalatoa
4. Teofilo Paulo
5. Kane Le’aupepe
6. Chris Vui
7. Jack Lam (captain)
8. Tofatuimoana Solia
9. Melani Matavao
10. Ulupano Junior Seuteni
11. Ed Fidow
12. Reynold Lee-Lo
13. Alapati Leiua
14. Ahsee Tuala
15. Tim Nanai-Williams

16. Seilala Lam
17. Paul Alo-Emile
18. James Lay
19. Vaitoasa Senio Toleafoa
20. Josh Tyrell
21. Scott Malolua
22. Tusiata Pisi
23. Henry Taefu

New Zealand Heartland XV team:

1. Carl Carmichael
2. Troy Tauwhare
3. Scott Cameron
4. Josh Clark
5. Campbell Hart
6. Brett Ranga (captain)
7. Seta Koritamana
8. Jeff Lepa
9. William Wright
10. James Lash
11. Willie Paiaaua
12. Sione Holani
13. Peni Nabainvalu
14. Harry Lafituanai
15. Craig Clare

16. Glen McIntrye
17. Ralph Darling
18. Meli Kolinisau
19. James Goodger
20. Aaron Lahmert
21. Lindsay Horrocks
22. Timoci Serawalu
23. Kalavini Leatigaga

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