Highlanders Name Team For Crusaders

 The Highlanders have named their team to face the Crusaders on Saturday 4 July, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin at 09:05 SA Time. A refresh for the front row and injuries have had an impact on Aaron Maugers’ team. Three players are unavailable due to injury, Nathan Vella (concussion), Nehe Milner-Skudder (shoulder), Josh Ioane (quad), while another six players suffered season-ending injuries, Sione Misiloi (foot), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (shoulder), James Lentjes (ankle), Tevita Nabura (back), Conor Garden-Bachop (back), Sam Gilbert (knee).

Impressive rookie winger, Sam Gilbert, who sustained a season-ending knee injury has been replaced by Ngatungane Punivai on the right-wing and the experienced Michael Collins will play at fullback.

Elsewhere, lock Jack Whetton will get an opportunity off the bench and the mercurial Vilimoni Koroi will cover the back three. The team will be co-captained by Aaron Smith and Ash Dixon.

In the forwards, a strong Crusaders scrum will be met by a new starting front row of Daniel Lienert-Brown, Liam Coltman and Jeff Thwaites. 

“Michael Collins is a great communicator, reads a game well and will organise the back three,” said Highlanders assistant coach, Tony Brown.

“We are fortunate to have some depth in our front row so we can make changes, this is a tough competition and as always the Crusaders will present a real challenge on Saturday night,” said forwards coach, Clarke Dermody.

 Team: 15. Michael Collins, 14. Ngatungane Punivai, 13. Rob Thompson, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 11. Jona Nareki, 10. Mitch Hunt, 9. Aaron Smith (CC), 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7. Dillon Hunt, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Josh Dickson, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 3. Jeff Thwaites, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Daniel Lienert-Brown. Replacements: 16. Ash Dixon(CC), 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Jack Whetton, 20. Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21. Kayne Hammington, 22. Bryn Gatland, 23. Vilimoni Koroi.