Highlanders Super rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has named Ash Dixon and Aaron Smith as co-captains of the team to play the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
Regular squad Captain, James Lentjes, has been sidelined for the season following a nasty injury to his ankle that occurred during last week’s match against the Rebels.
Dixon and Smith make the step up from co-Vice Captains and will provide plenty of experience for the younger members of the team as they prepare to take on the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Experience returns to the starting XV in the form of All Black hooker, Liam Coltman and fellow All Black, Shannon Frizell, who is back from his rest week.
Young Southland lock, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, comes into the middle row for Jack Whetton who moves to the bench and Dillon Hunt replaces the injured James Lentjes.
Only one change in the backs, Ngane Punivai, will make his debut for the Highlanders.
The hard running centre has worked his way back from a knee injury to take the place of Rob Thompson in an otherwise settled back combination including Mitch Hunt who will play his 50th Super Rugby game having previously played for the Crusaders.
Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, is his happy for his players,
“Ngane has worked incredibly hard since his arrival and his selection is reward for all that hard work and Mitch has been a class player for some time now and to play 50 Super Rugby games is a significant achievement for him”.
15 Michael Collins, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Ngane Punivai, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Tima Fainga’anuku