Highlanders mix-up backline for Chiefs encounter
The Highlanders take on the top of the table Chiefs after returning from their Australian road trip.
While results didn’t go the Highlanders way there is still plenty to play for over the remaining rounds as play offs loom.
Captain Billy Harmon returns to the forward pack after missing the Waratahs match and lock Josh Dickson returns to the playing twenty-three. A reshuffle in the backline has Sam Gilbert returning to fullback and Thomas Umaga-Jensen to the midfield while Jonah Lowe makes way for Connor Garden-Bachop on the wing.
Freddie Burns will take the reins from Mitch Hunt for his first start at first-five. The accomplished Burns has a strong kicking game and showed glimpses of his running ability against the Force. He is well used to the pressure of a big home game having 300 first class games under his belt.
Coach Clarke Dermody is glad to be home after a tough few games on the road:
“We didn’t get what we wanted from the last two rounds away, so we are delighted to be at home this week with our destiny still in our own hands. It’s a great opportunity for our players to deliver their best against the frontrunners in this competition. We have had some close contests over the years against the Chiefs so we will be working hard to give our home fans something to shout about on Friday night.”
Highlander v Chiefs – 7:05pm, Friday 5th May, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
1. Ethan de Groot
2. Andrew Makalio
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Fabian Holland
5. Will Tucker
6. Shannon Frizell
7. Billy Harmon (C)
8. Hugh Renton
9. Aaron Smith
10. Freddie Burns
11. Scott Gregory
12. Thomas Umaga-Jensen
13. Fetuli Paea
14. Connor Garden-Bachop
15. Sam Gilbert
Reserves: 16. Rhys Marshall 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Saula Ma’u 19. Josh Dickson 20. Sean Withy 21. Folau Fakatava 22. Mitch Hunt 23. Jona Nareki
The @NSWWaratahs move into the eight and @ChiefsRugby extend their lead ⬆️— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 30, 2023
How is your team looking with five rounds to play?#CultureRound #SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/toLXcUYwUH