By date 9 of Super Rugby Aotearoa Highlanders will make only the required changes to visit Crusaders in Christchurch, the Sunday live from 0.35 on ESPN Play and delayed at 11 on ESPN 3.
Head coach Aaron Mauger decided that Jona Nareki will replace Scott Gregory in the starting team.
Nareki, regular starter in the first part of the season, has had a great impact coming from the bench in the last two games and that’s why now he will have his chance with the 11th shirt.
The rest of the starting team will have another chance to challenge themselves in what has been the toughest Super Rugby competition in recent years.
The novelty will be on the bench with the inclusion of six forwards and two bakcs: with Daniel Lienert-Brown back together with Teariki Ben-Nicholas and Ngatungane Punivai.
Mauger seeks a better performance from his team. “Playing against the Crusaders, we know we will have to be vigilant from the start, but it is another great opportunity for our boys to prove themselves against the leaders of the competition.”
Highlanders: 15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith (cc), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon (cc), 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Ngatungane Punivai, 23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas
Place: Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe