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Mauger tinkers with Highlanders for Hurricanes

Rob Thompson of the Highlanders set-up midfield partner Sio Tomkinson for the try as the Highlanders edge the Chiefs 28-27 at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.

Rob Thompson sets-up midfield partner Sio Tomkinson for the try as the Highlanders edge the Chiefs 28-27 in Super Rugby Aotearoa opener at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.

Highlanders Super rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has largely retained the team that played in the first three rounds of Super Rugby Aotearoa to face the Hurricanes.

Siate Tokolahi will play his 50th game for the Highlanders after making his debut in 2017 following two seasons with the Chiefs.

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The Tongan born Tokolahi has recently announced his signing with the Southland Stags and returns to the starting front row with co-captain Ash Dixon and Ayden Johnstone.

Scott Gregory also returns to the starting side on the right wing in place of the injured Ngatungane Punivai.

In the forwards, lock Jack Whetton, earns a start after an impressive showing off the bench against the Crusaders.

Whetton replaced the well performed Josh Dickson who sustained a broken leg and will unfortunately have to sit out the rest of the Super Rugby season.

A 6:2 forwards to backs bench split gives Manaaki Selby-Rickit an opportunity this week alongside Jesse Parete and Teariki Ben-Nicholas while Kayne Hammington and Bryn Gatland will cover the backs.

“This is clearly an important match for both teams and our focus will be on converting the opportunities we create” said Head Coach Aaron Mauger.

“Our record in Wellington hasn’t been great in recent times so we are under no illusions about the difficulty of playing the Hurricanes in Wellington, we have shown a lot of resolve in the last month or so, but we will need to be at our best again”

Unavailable due to injury: Josh Ioane (quad), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Ngatungane Punivai (concussion), Nathan Vella (concussion),

Season ending injuries: Josh Dickson (leg), Conor Garden-Bachop (back), Sam Gilbert (knee), James Lentjes (ankle), Sione Misiloi (foot), Tevita Nabura (back), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder)


1. Ayden Johnstone 2. Ash Dixon (cc) 3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Pari Pari Parkinson 5. Jack Whetton 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Dillon Hunt 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10. Mitch Hunt 11. Jona Nareki 12. Patelesio Tomkinson 13. Rob Thompson 14. Scott Gregory 15. Michael Collins

Replacements : 16. Liam Coltman 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Jeff Thwaites 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Jesse Parete 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Bryn Gatland 23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas

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