Head coach, Aaron Mauger, has largely stayed with the team from the first-round loss against the Sharks making only three selection changes to the starting fifteen.
In the forwards, All Blacks World Cup tourist Shannon Frizell comes into the starting side with Dillon Hunt dropping to the bench while Jesse Parete replaces an injured Pari Pari Parkinson in the second row. Parete’s promotion grants Jack Whetton a place in the matchday 23 for his first game of the 2020 season.
The only change in the backs sees Patelesio Tomkinson come onto the right wing for Tima Fainga’anuku.
On the bench, Counties Manukau and Irish prop, Conan O’Donnell (who came into the squad for the injured Jeff Thwaites), gets an opportunity to impress this week
Mauger is well aware of the challenge his team will face in the capital city.
The @BluesRugbyTeam have won just two of their last 28 matches against fellow NZ teams. Will they improve that statistic on Friday night at Eden Park against @CrusadersRugby? #SuperRugbyhttps://t.co/McU7lGlFlj
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 12, 2020
“[The Brumbies] are a tough team to play in Canberra and have a strong home record over the last few seasons, we are expecting a physical encounter on Saturday,” Mauger said.
“We took some positives out of our second-half performance last week, so we now have a good opportunity to build on that this round against the Brumbies.”
Highlanders: Josh McKay, Patelesio Tompkinson, Rob Thompson, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, James Lentjes (c), Shannon Frizell, Josh Dickson, Jesse Parete, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Conan O’Donnell, Jack Whetton, Dillon Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Michael Collins, Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
– with Highlanders Rugby
Highlanders forwards coach Mark Hammet is looking forward to the challenge of the unbeaten Sharks:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now