Box Hill Bronco stars Joseva Tamani and Nailati Ukalele are set to earn their first NRC starts when the Melbourne Rising take on NSW Country in Adelaide this Saturday.
The pair, who starred in a losing side in the 2019 Dewar Shield Grand Final, will look to guide the Rising to their first win of their NRC campaign.
Tamani’s opportunity comes after an impressive cameo off the bench against the Canberra Vikings last Saturday, which consistently saw him create headaches for the Vikings defence.
“Joseva is such an athletic guy with a freakish capacity,” said Rising head coach Pom Simona.
“Whenever he is around the ball you know something exciting is about to happen.
“He’s really good prospect and the more exposure he can get at this level the faster he will develop.”
For Ukalele, the start comes at the expense of Harlequin Taylor Acheson who left the field early with a calf injury during the Rising’s Round One match.
“Nailati packs a lot of punch for a small guy,” observed Simona.
“I’ve seen him stand up a lot of players who make the mistake of giving him too much space to move.
“His feet are electric and he can create some real headaches, particularly for tiring defenders.”
In another significant change, Simona has tasked Theo Strang this week with steering the ship around from scrumhalf.
“Theo brings a calm head to the team and help bring composure to our young backline," said Simona.
“Theo has played alongside most of the NSW Country team before at Club level, so he’ll know their game inside out, which is a bonus.”
Promising outside back Navarre Haisila look set to his first taste of NRC action after being named in the reserves.
South Australian native Michael Moloney will enjoy his homecoming; named at 10 for the clash at AA Bailey Reserve that will no doubt feature a healthy contingent of Barossa Valley Rams rugby supporters.
- Fereti Saaga
- Anaru Rangi
- Vaauli Faamausili
- Ross Haylett-Petty
- Esei Hangana
- Joseva Tamani
- Pat Morrey
- Ikapote Tupai
- Theo Strang
- Michael Moloney
- Lolohea Loco
- Semisi Tupou ©
- William Lewesi
- Nailati Ukalele
- Justin Marsters
- Mahe Vailanu
- Matt Gibbon
- Tetera Faulkner
- Will Clift
- Maciu Nabolakasi
- Reece Fuller
- Rodney Iona
- Navarre Haisila