After a couple weeks off to sharpen their skills the Austin Herd will host the Colorado Raptors in preseason action on Saturday. Colorado are fresh off a mini-camp held in Las Vegas that saw them defeating Rugby ATL in a scrimmage while the Herd last saw action against the Austin Huns on January 4.
It’s an experimental lineup from new Austin coach Brent Semmons. Zinzan Elan-Puttick captains the side wearing the unfamiliar No10 shirt, with he and Uruguay international Rodrigo Silva trading the positions they held last season. Peni Tagive steps into the midfield, where he has played previously with Old Blue, and recent arrival Gabe Farley takes up a spot on the bench.
A strong front row features South American duo Wilton Rebolo and Juan Echeverría, while Rikus Zwart and Potu Leavasa form the engine room in the absence of Tongan signing Dan Faleafa. Having played his previous club rugby at center, American football crossover Dominic Akina lines up on the flank in a mobile loose forward trio.
The bench sees hooker Tiaan Erasmus nominated to cover loose forward with no sign of Lindenwood pair Michael de Waal and Wesley White. Missing in the backs are key arrivals Enele Malele, Roland Suniula, and Frank Halai.
Colorado have named a starting side largely familiar to Raptors fans with only three new names. Versatile French front rower Xendy Tatibouet is at loosehead prop with Tasman recruit Mike Curry selected at No8. Glendale Merlins front rower Steve Karas is called up to the bench where newcomers Sam Slade and Mike Stewart are also found.
New Zealand u20 cap Mason Emerson is named on the right wing with Seth Halliman at fullback, the latter a regular starter in 2018 who missed the entirety of the 2019 campaign. New halfbacks Sean Yacoubian and Tomás Quinlan are among four backs reserves that includes Nick Boyer, the international scrumhalf set to cover the outside backs.
Among the missing are front row trio Blake Rogers, Zak Taulafo, and Jay Finau. Eagles back row pair Aladdin Schirmer and Hanco Gersmishuys are absent, as are top signings Rene Ranger and Digby Ioane. No captain has been indicated but 2019 vice-captain Luke White starts at lock.
Saturday’s contest is the headlining game in a full day of entertainment at Burr Field. Three club matches between the Austin Blacks and Austin Huns, a local high school game, a college match, live music and food will be present. Proceeds from the $10 entry fee will go towards fighting the wildfires in Australia.
Kickoff for the MLR match is set for 4pm local. There are no plans for a live broadcast.
1 LaRome White, 2 Wilton Rebolo, 3 Juan Echeverría, 4 Rikus Zwart, 5 Potu Leavasa, 6 Dominic Akina, 7 Moe Abdelmonem, 8 Lino Saunitoga, 9 Marcelo Torrealba, 10 Zinzan Elan-Puttick (capt.), 11 Reece Czarnecki, 12 Sione Fangaiuiha, 13 Peni Tagive, 14 Corey Jones, 15 Rodrigo Silva
Replacements: 16 Skyler Adams, 17 Chris Schade, 18 Mason Pedersen, 19 Maikeli Mudu, 20 Tiaan Erasmus, 21 Colby Stevens, 22 Gabe Farley, 23 Rodrick Waters
1 Xendy Tatibouët, 2 Chad Gough, 3 Kelepi Fifita, 4 Luke White, 5 Kody O’Neil, 6 Brendan Daly, 7 Connor Cook, 8 Mike Curry, 9 Carlo de Nysschen, 10 Ata Malifa, 11 John Ryberg, 12 Robbie Petzer, 13 Chad London, 14 Mason Emerson, 15 Seth Halliman
Replacements: 16 Steve Karas, 17 Marco Fepulea’i, 18 Sam Slade, 19 Mike Stewart, 20 Sean Yacoubian, 21 Tomás Quinlan, 22 Mika Kruse, 23 Nick Boyer
Date: Saturday, January 25
Venue: Burr Field, Austin
Kickoff: 16:00 local (14:00 Pacific, 17:00 Eastern)