The Highlanders will face the Blues at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Sunday @ 05:35 SA Time in their round eight game in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. Coach Aaron Mauger has made one change and one positional change to his team that scored a last gasp victory over the Chiefs (21-17) last weekend. The Highlanders is currently second from the bottom on the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition log with two wins from five.
Bryn Gatland is the only new player included in the matchday 23 but a key positional change will see All Black first-five, Josh Ioane, get his first start of the new season in the driving seat. The well-performed Mitch Hunt will move to fullback but will no doubt have some time at flyhalf.
“Mitch has been outstanding for us and has really flourished with regular game time. We are truly blessed with the standard of flyhalves we have in our squad and I would be confident with any of the three of them at the helm. Josh deserves his chance though as he has worked very hard to get back to full fitness and we saw some nice touches from him against the Chiefs,” said Mauger.
Michael Collins has retained the centre spot having performed well against the Chiefs in that position, “Michael has been in good form, making good decisions and we believe he can make a real impact on the game from there”.
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Jeff Thwaites, 4. Pari Pari Parkinson, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Josh Ioane, 11. Scott Gregory, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 13. Michael Collins, 14. Josh McKay, 15. Mitch Hunt. Replacements: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ethan De Groot, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Jesse Parete, 21. Folau Fakatava, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23. Jona Nareki.