aucklandrugby.co.nz and James Mortimer 18.Sep.2013Getty Images
The inclusion of 19-year-old Hickey is one of four changes to the starting XV in the wake of Auckland’s disappointing 42-24 loss to Waikato last week.
“The reality is we’ve had five wins and a loss so those points are on the board,” Auckland head coach Wayne Pivac said.
“What we have to do is get back to the sort of form and preparation we had for the Taranaki game and that’s certainly what we talked about yesterday. We had a decent day which was all classroom-based looking at our game very hard and as a result we’ve made a couple of changes for Thursday.”
Sam Prattley replaces Pauliasi Manu at loosehead prop, while Jack Whetton will make his first start for Auckland ahead of Patrick Tuipulotu at lock.
18-year-old Ponsonby winger Vince Aso returns to the run-on team and Hickey takes over the reigns at first five-eighths in place of Orene Ai’i.
“Orene’s got a lot of experience but Simon brings a different dimension to the game. He’s been steering the ship well for the first part of the season and it’s certainly good to have him back,” Pivac said.
Grammar Carlton hooker Nathan Vella is named on the bench along with his club teammate Kara Pyror who is poised to make his Auckland debut and go head-to-head with his brother Daniel.
The Auckland team to face Northland at Eden Park on Thursday night (kick-off 7.35pm) is:
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15. Lolagi Visinia (Suburbs)
14. Vince Aso (Ponsonby)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Pakuranga)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (c) (Grammar Carlton)
11. George Moala (Grammar Carlton)
10. Simon Hickey (Grammar Carlton)
9. Piri Weepu (Maungarua)
8. Peter Saili (Marist)
7. Sean Polwart (University)
6. Joe Edwards (Pakuranga)
5. Jack Whetton (Grammar Carlton)
4. Liaki Moli (Manukau)
3. Angus Ta’avao (Marist)
2. Tom McCartney (Pakuranga)
1. Sam Prattley (Pakuranga)
16. Nathan Vella (Grammar Carlton)
17. Pauliasi Manu (University)
18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Grammar Carlton)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (Ponsonby)
20. Kara Pryor (Grammar Carlton)
21. Wayne Ngaluafe (Ponsonby)
22. Tenina Sauileoge (Papatoetoe)