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Berquist Back For Hawke's Bay

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland, Oct 9 NZPA - First choice five five-eighth Matt Berquist makes his return from a month-long injury break when Hawke's Bay seek to extend their recent dominance over Waikato in an Air NZ Cup rugby quarterfinal at Napier on Sunday.

In another boost for Hawke's Bay, on-loan tighthead prop Anthony Perenise, briefly recalled to Wellington to cover for injuries to Neemia Tialata and John Schwalger, was heading back to Napier today.

He has been named in a forward pack unchanged from the eight who started in last weekend's 46-12 win over Bay of Plenty in Napier.

Berquist is the only change in the starting 15, the first five-eighth returning to action for the first time since breaking a finger on his left hand against Taranaki on September 4.

"We're at full strength, I can't ask for anything more," coach Peter Russell said.

Berquist replaces Aayden Clarke, who drops to the reserves bench at the expense of Mark Jackman.

Hawke's Bay are seeking their fourth successive win over the 2006 provincial champions in Napier, although Waikato have been bolstered by the inclusion of All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina.

Waikato release their side after training tomorrow although it is already apparent Muliania will make his first appearance of the season -- and first for the province since Waikato won the inaugural Air NZ Cup in 2006.

H e missed yesterday's training session due to an medical appointment but Waikato coach Tony Hanks confirmed Muliaina would start ahead of incumbent fullback Sosene Anesi.

"Mils has had the last three days with us, plus he's done the odd training over the last two or three weeks and he's the best fullback in the world so it's easy to bring him back in," Hanks said.

Anesi and Tim Mikkelson are jostling for one wing berth -- Sitiveni Sivivatu has the other locked down -- while Jackson Willison and Dwayne Sweeney are the contenders at second five-eighth, and All Black Richard Kahui will be at centre.

However, first five-eighth Stephen Donald is expected to be ruled out after damaging a rib cartilage against Taranaki last weekend.

Versatile loose forward Liam Messam is also unlikely to be named as he continues to nurse a persistent hamstring strain.

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