Highlanders tweak team for Hurricanes
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Highlanders return off the bye and head to the capital to take on the Hurricanes on Friday in their last game of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
The Highlanders have revealed a team that is largely unchanged from the team that decisively dispatched the Blues at home in Round Eight.
The only change in the forward pack comes in the front row where Ethan de Groot claims the starting loosehead prop position and Ayden Johnstone rotates back to the bench.
In the backs, Ngatungane Punivai is unavailable due to a recurring leg injury but is replaced by Sam Gilbert on the right wing who is returning from a nine-month injury hiatus and has been selected following good club rugby performances.
The only other change on the bench sees Hugh Renton come in for Marino Mikaele-Tu who is unavailable due to a lower leg injury.
The Highlanders will be hoping to continue their form from Round Eight and carry it through this last round before heading into the Trans-Tasman competition where they will play the opening round at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin against the in-form Queensland Reds on Friday, May 14.
Highlanders: 15 Josh Ioane, 14 Sam Gilbert, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan De Groot, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 James Lentjes.
Date: Friday, April 30
Venue: Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19.05 (07.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: James Doleman, Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill