National Rugby Championship: Palmyra trio called up to Perth Spirit

THREE Palmyra Rugby Union Club players have been selected in the Perth Spirit side to face Sydney Rays in round two of the National Rugby Championship at North Sydney Oval tonight.

Eighth man Onehunga Havili and full back Manihera Eden will start the game while prop Mees Erasmus in on the bench.

Head coach Dwayne Nestor has made three changes to the starting XV that beat Melbourne Rising 20-16 in round one of the competition, shuffling the front row but leaving the backline unchanged.

Nestor said the team was aiming to build on the momentum gained last week and looking forward to the challenge posed by Sydney.

“We can take a fair bit from last week into this game,” he said.

“In terms of positives, the boys started to use the ball really well in the second half, we started winning the collisions and earning the right to offload.”

Speaking on the unchanged backline Nestor said each of the backs warranted re-selection following strong performances in round one.

“I think a lot of the backs had really good games,” he said.

“Billy Meakes was awesome, Ryan Louwrens and Jono Lance both had good games, Ben Tapuai is really excited to be playing good rugby and then the club guys, Eric Vasukicakau and Manihera Eden were really good on debut.

“From watching the Rays last week they seem to play a similar style to us. They try to use the ball and the width of the field really well so I think we could be in for a really exciting game.”

The Spirit will field a new look front-row with Western Force hooker Anaru Rangi named to start after missing the opening round while Joondalup’s Laione Mulikihaamea and UWA’s Shambeckler Vui will make their run-on debuts after impressing off the bench last weekend.

The second row will again be an all Pindan Premier Grade duo with Cottesloe captain Kieran Stringer linking up with Grayson Knapp of Nedlands.

The backrow also remains unchanged with Western Force flanker Brynard Stander manning the blindside, Richard Hardwick at openside and Future Force Foundation product Onehunga Havili in the No.8 jersey.