Highlanders Super rugby head coach Aaron Mauger has named his team to play in the penultimate weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa in a game that could decide the tournament with the Crusaders a win away from clinching the inaugural title.
That won’t be on the mind of the Highlanders though as any time the Highlanders play the Crusaders there is always plenty of motivation such is the rich history of the southern clash.
A settled looking Highlanders team has been named for the Sunday fixture, with only Jona Nareki coming in for Scott Gregory in the starting team.
Nareki, a regular starter in the early part of the season, has made a real impact off the bench in the last two outings and been rewarded with the number 11 jersey.
The rest of the starting team will get another opportunity to test themselves in what has been the toughest Super Rugby competition in recent years.
On the bench there is a six/two split with Daniel Lienert-Brown returning along with Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Ngatungane Punivai.
Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, is looking for an improved performance from his team, “I didn’t feel we did ourselves justice last week as we allowed the Blues to dominate us early and rack up some points. We were better in the back half, but it was too late.
Playing the Crusaders, we know we will have to be tuned in from the very start but it’s another great opportunity for our guys to prove themselves against the competition leaders.”
15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Replacements : 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngane Punivai, 23 Jesse Parete