Josh Ione Back For Highlanders Against Chiefs

Highlanders Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, has named a largely unchanged side to face the Chiefs on Sunday 19th July, FMG Stadium, Hamilton @ 05:35 SA Time. The Highlanders beat the Chiefs in Round 1 (28-27) of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition and come off a loss against the Hurricanes (11-17) last weekend.

Josh Ioane returns to the matchday 23 who withdrew before the round one match against the Chiefs with a reaggravated groin strain the injury, will get his first taste of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“It’s been tough to be on the sidelines watching as there have been some great games going on and I’m excited to get the opportunity to get back out there,” said Ioane.

There are no changes in the forward pack with Dillon Hunt, who left the field last week after sustaining a finger in the eye, being declared fit to play. Jona Nareki, who has started every match so far for the Pulse Energy Highlanders, will be given a chance to make an impact off the bench this week. Scott Gregory will move from the right-wing to the left-wing making way for Josh McKay to make his competition debut.

On the bench, Folau Fakatava and Ethan De Groot will be included in the playing team for the first time after Kayne Hammington broke his hand in the final moments of the Hurricanes match and Daniel Lienert-Brown is unavailable due to dental surgery this week. Should de Groot take the field this will be his Super Rugby debut.

Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, is looking for improvement from his team, “We have had our chances in every game we’ve played and the guys are working at getting better every time they run out, we are all aware the standard of play in this competition is extremely high and you need your very best against any team.“

Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Paripari Parkinson, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Mitch Hunt, 11. Scott Gregory, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 13. Rob Thompson, 14. Josh McKay, 15. Michael Collins. Replacements: 16. Liam Coltman, 17. Ethan De Groot, 18. Jeff Thwaites, 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20. Jesse Parete, 21. Folau Fakatava, 22. Josh Ioane, 23. Jona Nareki.